Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) says she's warning fellow Democrats that if President Donald Trump isn't defeated by a sizable margin in the 2020 presidential elections that he won't respect the outcome of the vote and may refuse to leave office.
Mediaite reports that the newly crowned Speaker of the House has also been cautioning her colleagues to remain more moderate on the campaign trail so that they don't "play into Trump's hands" and accidentally verify his claims that Democrats intend to move the country toward socialism.
“If we win by four seats, by a thousand votes each, he’s not going to respect the election,” Pelosi told The New York Times in a wide-ranging interview published Sunday, adding that she had the same concerns before the 2018 election, when Democrats retook the House of Representatives.
“He would poison the public mind. He would challenge each of the races; he would say you can’t seat these people,” she told the NYT. “We had to win. Imagine if we hadn’t won — oh, don’t even imagine. So, as we go forward, we have to have the same approach.”
Pelosi then added that she and Democrats believe they have to "inoculate" against the possibility that "Mr. Trump would not give up power voluntarily if he lost re-election."
Part of her strategy of "inoculation" involves convincing fellow Democrats that impeachment is not the best route for challenging the president in Congress. Instead, she believes, Democrats should focus on making the 2020 elections a referendum on Trump's performance and his culpability in obstructing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russian officials to alter the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
"Do not get dragged into a protracted impeachment bid that will ultimately get crushed in the Republican-controlled Senate, and do not risk alienating the moderate voters who flocked to the party in 2018 by drifting too far to the left," Pelosi suggests, according to the NYT.
Pelosi's comments will be surprising to both Democrats and Republicans. Democrats are certainly anticipating the 2020 race for the presidential nomination to be between members of the party's far-left progressive wing, and not between moderates representing the center-left. Progressive activists are desperately pushing the party to nominate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) as a way of "making up" for the socialist candidate's defeat in 2016. And even though the more moderate former Vice President Joe Biden is in the lead, there is a visible, concerted effort to derail his potential campaign.
Republicans may be surprised to learn that Democrats, including Pelosi, are still operating under the delusion that President Donald Trump is the most likely 2020 candidate to refuse to accept election results, particularly given that former Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton is still re-litigating the 2016 election, and that key Democratic candidates, like former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, are refusing to accept even certified election results.
Clinton, for example, told a Los Angeles audience Saturday night that she believes she was robbed of the presidency back in 2016.
In response to a question about 2020 from @TedDanson, @HillaryClinton just said that “you can run the best campaign,” and “still have the election stolen from you.” #BillandHill pic.twitter.com/T5Unen8Kx6— Michael Soneff (@Soneff) May 5, 2019
Of course, Clinton didn't "run the best campaign," — and not even by Democratic standards. She skipped several key states, like Michigan and Wisconsin, where faulty internal polling showed her far ahead. As a result, she failed to get the number of Electoral College votes needed to solidify a victory.
Abrams told an audience last week that she wasn't governor of Georgia "yet," despite losing the state by more than 50,000 votes.