Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., expressed optimism that Democrats can be united following the retirement of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, arguing the party’s diversity would remain one of its strengths under his potential leadership.
“The thing about us… is that while we can have some noisy conversations at times about how we can make progress for the American people, what we’ve seen is that under the leadership of Speaker Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Jim Clyburn, we’ve constantly been able to come together,” Jeffries said Sunday during an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union.
Jeffries’ comments come two days after he announced his bid to become House Democratic Leader, filling the shoes of Pelosi, who announced her retirement last week after two decades in Democratic leadership.
“Today, I write to humbly ask for your support for the position of House Democratic Leader as we once again prepare to meet the moment,” Jeffries wrote in a letter to fellow House Democrats. “Our Caucus must unify with purpose, communicate with discipline, legislate with precision and partner with the Biden administration to vigorously address the continuing challenges impacting our constituents.”
Jeffries has so far faced no opposition for his bid to lead the party, setting the stage for him to easily be voted into the job.
But Jeffries faces challenges in the new rule, with CNN host Jake Tapper noting the potential party leader has at times clashed with progressive members of his caucus such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
Jeffries responded by expressing optimism that he can bring the various factions of the party together, arguing that Democratic diversity is one of the party’s strengths.
“I have great respect for Representative Ocasio-Cortez and every single member of the house Democratic Caucus,” Jeffries said. “The majesty of the House Democratic Caucus is that we are so incredibly diverse, in terms of race and gender and religion and sexual orientation, region, life experience, and even ideology from the left to progressives, New Dems, Blue Dogs, moderate and centrist Democrats, all points in between.”
Jeffries also pointed to his time as chair of the House Democratic Caucus, where he said he focused on bringing people in the party together.
“I’ve had the opportunity over the last two terms to serve as chair of the House Democratic Caucus,” Jeffries said. “And my goal has really been just to work hard to bring people together, to legislate with precision, to message with discipline, to communicate our values.”