House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said socialism is “not the view” of the Democratic Party.
In an interview with the CBS program “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday, the California Democrat said that lawmakers on her side of the aisle “know that we have to hold the center.”
“I do reject socialism,” Pelosi added. “If people have that view, that’s their view. That is not the view of the Democratic Party.”
Pelosi’s comments come as members of the party who embrace some of the ideas behind socialism become more outspoken. Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, who has long called himself a democratic socialist, last week introduced “Medicare for All” legislation.
The idea of a government-run health-care plan for all Americans has been denounced by Republicans who are trying to paint all Democrats with the socialism brush and use it as a 2020 campaign weapon.
Centrist Democrats are also distancing themselves. Pelosi herself urged caution on Sanders’ health-care proposal, instead touting President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, despite a number of Democratic presidential candidates co-sponsoring Sanders’ Medicare for All bill. Presidential hopefuls Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., support Medicare for All and signed on to Sanders’ legislation.
In her “60 Minutes” interview, Pelosi said: “The Affordable Care Act is better than Medicare, there’s no question about that. The Affordable Care Act benefits are better, Medicare doesn’t have a catastrophic plan. So if you want Medicare for All, you have to change Medicare and let’s take a look at that.”
Though some Democrats, including freshman Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., have embraced aspects of socialism, Pelosi insisted that it’s only “like five people.”
Pelosi added that it’s been an “ongoing theme” for Republicans to accuse Democrats of adopting socialism, citing an example of when a newly conservative Ronald Reagan, before becoming a politician, warned that starting the Medicare system would create a “socialist dictatorship.”
The Republican National Committee did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Pelosi’s remarks.
Though Pelosi said she is not a socialist, the House speaker said she believes she’s still a progressive lawmaker.
Pelosi’s office did not respond to a request for additional comment.