House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) claimed on Sunday that she respects Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), a far-left “Squad” member who has openly criticized the Democrat Party’s leadership, telling CBS News’s Leslie Stahl she is “not dismissing” people like AOC despite years-long rumors of infighting within the caucus.
During a comprehensive interview on CBS News’s 60 Minutes, Stahl asked the speaker to address complaints from AOC — particularly regarding Pelosi’s purported failure to seek younger members to lead the party in the future.
“Why does AOC complain that you have not been grooming younger people for leadership?” Stahl asked.
“I don’t know, “Pelosi quipped. “You’ll have to ask her … because we are.”
Stahl characterized Pelosi’s response as “kind of sharp, kind of dismissive,” but the 80-year-old lawmaker disagreed, contending that she respects the younger progressive.
“I’m not dismissing her. I respect her. I think she’s very effective, as are … many other members of our caucus that the press doesn’t pay attention to. But they are there, and they are building support for what comes next,” Pelosi added:
It seems that AOC and Pelosi have a wonderful relationship pic.twitter.com/egS6EBUUoJ
— Icculus The Brave (@FirenzeMike) January 11, 2021
Pelosi and far-left members of the “Squad” have been at odds over the past two years as the party continually attempts to strike a balance, satisfying the establishment Democrats and more progressive members who seek radical changes, such as defunding the police.
In last month’s interview with The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill, Ocasio-Cortez stated, “We need new leadership in the Democratic Party.”
“I think one of the things that I have struggled with — I think that a lot of people struggle with — is the internal dynamics of the House has made it such that there’s very little option for succession if you will, you know?” she said, adding that there are no “viable alternatives” to Pelosi, who recently won the speakership election with 216 votes — short of a House majority.
She said in part:
When you have really talented members of Congress that do come along, the opportunities to lead are so few and far between, that they leave, that the kind of path of ascension, if you will, for a lot of members looking around, both progressive and conservative alike, is to run for a statewide office and get out of there.
While the New York lawmaker expressed the belief that Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) need to go, she emphasized that the party needs a plan to fill the void.
“Because if you create that vacuum, there are so many nefarious forces at play to fill that vacuum with something even worse,” she said.
“And so the actual sad state of affairs is that there are folks more conservative than even they are willing to kind of fill that void,” she continued, adding, “We need to make sure that we have a transition of power in the leadership of the Democratic Party.”