Interviews

Rep. Tim Ryan challenging Pelosi for House minority leader

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," November 21, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Sometimes, not all the time, hell have no fury like liberals who don't respond to challenging one of their idols.

Meet the Democratic congressman who says, Nancy Pelosi, I respect you, I admire what you have done, but enough. It's time to step down, time for new blood, younger blood to come in.

He is the Ohio Democrat Congressman Tim Ryan. He joins us right no. He is seeking to lead the Democrats in this next Congress.

Sir, good to have you.

REP. TIM RYAN, D-OHIO: Thanks, Neil.

CAVUTO: We should say we put out a call to Nancy Pelosi. We haven't heard back, or we did hear back, and I think she just declined.

But let me ask you, Congressman, why are you doing this? It's an uphill battle, but you argue it's time for change.

RYAN: Well, there was an earthquake that went through the Midwest last Tuesday and white working class, and black working class, brown working class folks in my district rejected the national Democratic Party because I think we failed to talk about economic opportunity for them.

And we need to move in a direction where we can connect with those workers and say that we're going to provide opportunity for them, opportunity for increased wages, a secure pension, and a way to move forward. And we failed to do that.

And I think, you know, moving forward, we have to look in a new direction to someone who can connect to those working-class, blue-collar voters all over the country and pull them back in our fold, so that we can win the majority back and represent our people.

CAVUTO: Did you let Nancy Pelosi know first of your intentions to challenge her? And what did she say?

RYAN: Well, I let her know first that we wanted to extend the debate. And that's when we were able to move the election last week. And then I did leave her a message that I was going to announce, yes.

CAVUTO: Right.

The fact that you were able to move that election is, in and of itself, a big development, because those things are set in stone, and she sets it.

Now, she's very competent in a letter to colleagues to say she has the votes and she's a pretty good counter.

What do you think?

RYAN: Well, she is.

I mean, she's a very, very skilled politician. And I have a great deal of respect for her, and I love her, and I think she's terrific. But I think it is time for a change.

And people in our caucus know it's time for a change. I mean, here's the question I'm asking them, Neil. How many seats do we have to lose before we have to make a change? Because we have lost 68 since 2010. We're the smallest number for our caucus since 1929. So, what's the number? Is it, we have got to lose 70 seats, 80 seats, 90 seats? Like, what's the number where we're going to recognize that we are now not a national political party?

And we have got to make some changes. And we have got to make them now, because, if you look at the political landscape, when the Republicans are in complete control of the government, the opposite party, now the Democrats, have an opportunity to make some gains.

But if we put, you know, the same leadership team out there to make the argument, I don't think anyone is going to come our way, and I think it's really a missed opportunity and it's going to damage our party and our ability to rebuild.

And that's just how I feel. I'm not happy about that I feel that way. I take no joy in having to do this. But this needs to be done for the future of our party.

CAVUTO: Now, she's 76 years old. Her number two, Steny Hoyer, is 77. The average age of the Republican leadership is like 49 or 50 years old. So, oddly enough, the party of old people, which is generally thought to be Republicans, which has always been an unfair rap, is the case with the House leadership.

But yet that seems to stick for her and stick together for her. What is your fear if she gets to be the Democratic leader again? What do you fear happening?

RYAN: Well, let me just say that Nancy Pelosi has more energy and vigor than probably half of our caucus put together. She's an amazing woman, and Steny Hoyer the same. He's got a ton of energy.

CAVUTO: So, you're not making an age reference. You're making just a let's shake things up reference?

RYAN: Well, we have got to look a little bit in the past.

Since 2010, we have lost 68 seats. We got killed in 2010, a few gains in ‘12, killed in ‘14, gained six seats the last time in an overall tidal wave that I think we all bear some responsibility for. I'm looking about moving forward.

So how do we win the 30 or 40 congressional seats that we need to take back the majority in the House of Representatives?

CAVUTO: Well, how many are with you, Congressman? How many do you think are with you right now or quietly say, hey, I'm -- I like what you're doing, keep doing it, Tim?

RYAN: Yes.

Well, I'm getting a lot of pats on the back. I think a lot of people are glad we're having this conversation. I have got some votes in my back pocket, and I'm certainly not going to reveal -- more people are coming out publicly every single day to support my candidacy.

And, look, I realize it's David against Goliath. I understand that, but, you know, damn it, we have got to have this conversation as a party because the future of our party is at stake. We are not a national party right now. We can't be a coastal party. We can't lose places like Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan. And we almost lost Minnesota.

I mean, we can't be a national party. We will never win the House of Representatives back.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: She has said it's not a matter of liberal. And she keeps referring to the fact that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. It's not a matter of the message not hitting with Americans, that Democrats should remain aggressively progressive. And that brings the likes of Bernie Sanders and others to the fore. Does that worry you?

RYAN: Look, I don't mind being progressive. I'm progressive.

I'm worried about talking about being economically progressive and coming up with ways to grow our economy, and how do we make the United States the advanced manufacturing hub of the entire world? How do we make sure that millennials have the kind of government and economy that will allow them to thrive and take advantage of opportunity with, you know, portable health care, portable benefits, portable pensions, portable work force training money, all of these things that will allow them to thrive in a mobile economy?

How do we invest into advanced manufacturing, additive manufacturing, these next generation of technologies that are going to allow for economic growth?

I believe that there needs to be investment from the public side and partnership with the private sector to allow our economy to grow. And right now, we have not talked to working-class people. We do talk about some of those issues, but we also got to talk to working-class people, Neil, that don't want to learn how to run a computer.

They want to run a backhoe. These men and women who take showers after work, those are the people that we're missing. And the average median income in my district is $57,000 a year, which means a husband and wife make less than $30,000 a year with a couple kids.

They work very hard and they feel like the Democratic Party has left them, that we don't care about them, that we don't talk about them. And the evidence is last Tuesday, where they left us in droves. And if we don't get our act together now, we're going to be in a permanent minority here for a long, long time.

And that is going to be a very unhealthy situation for our democracy, our political system, and our economy.

CAVUTO: Congressman, I like that line. Take showers after work. That's well put.

Congressman, thank you very, very much.

RYAN: Thanks, Neil.

CAVUTO: All right.

And we do have a request out to Nancy Pelosi. And, again, hope springs eternal that she will change her mind and come on. Years ago, you know, we interviewed her. And then she realized that we were Fox, I guess, and just hates everything about us. Is that fair? Is that right?

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