OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
CNN host Jake Tapper shut down a leading Democratic congressman who was attempting to put a good face after his party lost control of the House to Republicans during this year’s midterm elections. Tapper pushed back on rosy claims made by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), who may become the leader of his party after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced earlier this month she would be stepping down as the party’s leader.
After Jeffries claimed that Democrats saw a “historic overperformance” during the midterms that was “almost beyond comparison when you look at the last 100 years,” Tapper reminded the New York Democrat that come January, his party would be in the minority after four years in the majority.
“I want to ask you, though, you’re portraying a very rosy scenario about how well Democrats are doing. You just lost the House. I mean, your party was just defeated at the House,” Tapper said.
“I get that it wasn’t as bad a defeat as it could have been, but it wasn’t exactly a vote of confidence in House Democrats” either, Tapper continued.
Here is a partial transcript of the conversation:
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES: Well, what I’ll say is that it was historic overperformance by every single measure, almost beyond comparison when you look at the last 100 years.
When there’s a single party in power that controls the House, the Senate, and the presidency, in a President’s first midterm election, the average loss of seats is 27.
In fact, I think in 2010, in a similar scenario, we lost about 63 seats, and so obviously, it was an incredibly strong performance under very difficult circumstances.
But you’re correct, Jake, we’re not satisfied, our top nongovernmental goal must be reclaiming the House in 2024, and I’m committed to making sure that that happens for the good of the American people.
But if you take a step back, we held the Senate.
Election deniers are on the run, have gone down in flames, have been defeated all across America, held key governorships in the heartland of America in Pennsylvania and Michigan and Wisconsin, and of course flipped state legislative bodies including in Michigan and one house in Pennsylvania, which is almost unheard of in a midterm election.
TAPPER: Yeah, I notice you’re not mentioning New York there because Democrats didn’t do too well in New York, and I know you said you want to get an after-action report on that.
CNN's Jake Tapper to new House Democrat leader (and election denier) Hakeem Jeffries:
"You're portraying a very rosy scenario about how well Democrats are doing — you just lost the House. I mean, your party was just defeated…it wasn't exactly a vote of confidence." pic.twitter.com/2t2tp89guq
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) November 20, 2022
Last week, Pelosi made official her decision to step down during a speech on the House floor:
BREAKING: PELOSI: “I will not seek re-election as Democratic leader of our caucus in the next Congress." pic.twitter.com/4eNKsAs0ti
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) November 17, 2022
NEW: On the House floor at noon, Pelosi will say in a speech crafted in part by Jon Meacham that she intends to pass the torch to the next generation of leadership but will stay on as a backbencher to help guide future leader Hakeem Jeffries https://t.co/2tIhc85niv
— Tara Palmeri (@tarapalmeri) November 17, 2022
A report from Politico reveals that Democrats held a “secret meeting” on Sept. 1 to determine who will replace Pelosi as the leader of House Democrats, with Jeffries, along with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), both being mentioned.
“Jeffries, the fifth-ranking House Democrat who aspires to be the first-ranking House Democrat in the next Congress, was picking up heightened chatter from colleagues about California Rep. Adam Schiff’s outreach expressing his own interest in the top caucus job. The 52-year-old Jeffries was concerned enough that he offered to fly to South Carolina to seek the counsel of the 82-year-old Clyburn. The younger lawmaker wanted to gently make sure his elder in the Congressional Black Caucus knew of Schiff’s quiet campaign — and to even more gently warn Clyburn about the risk of splitting votes between them and opening a path for the ambitious Californian,” Politico reported.
“There’s nothing I would ever do to impede the progress of our up-and-coming young Democrats and I see him as an up-and-coming young Democrat,” Clyburn said in an interview about Jeffries. “He knows that, I didn’t have to tell him that — but I did.”