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Two Losing House Democrats Ask Pelosi to Step Aside

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi CBS

During a meeting of House Democrats today, two Democratic lawmakers who lost their reelection bids this year asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi not to follow through on her plan to remain as party leader, CBS News Senior Political Producer Jill Jackson reports.

Pelosi's response was to point members of her caucus to her record and credentials. She stated that she led Democrats out of the political wilderness in 2006 and vowed to do it again.

Pelosi surprised political observers when she announced on November 5th that she would run for minority leader in the new Congress. In the wake of what President Obama dubbed a "shellacking" in the midterm elections, many in Washington expected the liberal California Democrat to voluntarily leave the leadership.

Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) said yesterday that he would challenge Pelosi's leadership bid. A member of the relatively conservative "Blue Dog" coalition of Democrats that saw their numbers decimated in the midterms, he said he would be more effective than Pelosi in recruiting moderate Democrats to win back the seats lost this year.

Pelosi says her leadership bid is "driven by the urgency of protecting health care reform, Wall Street reform, and Social Security and Medicare," and an aide told CBS News that she is the Democrat most effective in raising the money necessary to get Democrats elected in 2012.

Roughly two dozen Democrats in the House have either opposed Pelosi's bid or said they would prefer someone else, and two have pressed for postponement of the leadership elections set for tomorrow. Pelosi is widely expected to succeed in her bid to become minority leader in tomorrow's vote.

Members who lost their reelection bids each got five minutes to address the closed caucus meeting today, accordng to Jackson. Staff were kicked out of the meeting shortly after it began so members were more comfortable speaking freely.


Brian Montopoli is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of his posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.
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