Obama backs Pelosi as 'one of the most effective legislative leaders' in US history

Former President Obama on Tuesday voiced his support for Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., saying that the former House speaker “will go down as one of the most effective legislative leaders this country has ever seen.”

Speaking to David Axelrod, one of his former strategists, in a wide-ranging interview on his podcast “The Axe Files” at Hyde Park in Chicago, Illinois, Obama said Pelosi — who is vying for her old role as speaker as Democrats are slated to retake the House in January — praised her record as a congressional leader.

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“Nancy is not always the best on a cable show, or with a quick sound bite or what have you, but her skill, tenacity, toughness, vision is remarkable,” Obama said. “Her ability to stand her ground and do hard things and to suffer unpopularity to get the right thing done — I think stands up against any person that I’ve observed or worked directly with in Washington during my lifetime.”

Pelosi, 78, has served in the House of Representatives since 1993 and from 2007 to 2011, served as speaker of the House. She currently represents congressional House Democrats as Minority Leader.

Obama said Pelosi knows what it takes to “actually get things across the finish line” in Congress and said, “she was an extraordinary partner for me throughout my presidency.”

Obama's Tuesday comments preceded Rep. Martha Fudge's, D-Ohio, announcement that she would drop her bid in the race for House speaker, and would instead support Pelosi for the role.

Fudge said she wanted to "ensure diversity, equity and inclusion at all levels" in the House and she's "now confident" they can "move forward together."

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The 44th president also told Axelrod that he was “particularly happy” following the 2018 midterm elections to see an increase in voter turnout among young people and others.

Obama noted that Democrat Beto O’Rourke, who lost his Senate race against incumbent Republican Ted Cruz, is an “impressive young man” who appears to be a politician running on a platform that he actually believes.

“What I oftentimes am looking for first and foremost is, ‘Do you seem to mean it? Are you in this thing because you have a strong set of convictions that you are willing to risk things for?'” Obama said, noting that O’Rourke struck him as that kind of person.

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O’Rourke, a representative for Texas in the U.S. House, ran a tight race against Cruz, to whom he lost 48 to 51 percent.

Obama has made a series of recent public appearances as his wife, former first lady Michelle Obama, promotes her new memoir, “Becoming.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.