House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she is "encouraged" by the ideological debates within the Democratic Party now represented by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and former Vice President Joe Biden, but lamented not having a female candidate in the general election.
Pelosi said during a Thursday press conference that there were "great candidates," specifically touting Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., but hypothesized as to why they came up short.
"I do think that there's a certain element of misogyny that is there. And some of it isn't really mean-spirited, it just isn't their experience," Pelosi said. She claimed that some people have "their own insecurities" that prevent them from voting for a woman.
Warren also pointed to sexism as a possible factor in the Democratic base essentially boiling down to two men. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is still in the race as the sole female candidate, but she has secured just one delegate in the primaries thus far after failing to qualify for the most recent debates.
At the same time, Pelosi said she believes that "the American people are ready" for a female president, and said she was surprised that the U.S. has a female speaker of the House before having a female president. Pelosi said she expected the general public to have been more ready than members of Congress to have a woman in charge.
"Every time I get introduced as the most powerful woman," she said, "I almost cry because I'm thinking I wish that were not true. I so wish that we had a woman president of the United States and we came very close to doing that."
Looking to the remaining front-runners, Pelosi was quick to brush aside the notion that she is concerned about the polarization of the party now represented by the democratic socialist Sanders and the establishment candidate Biden.
"I'm encouraged by the debate that is taking place, that I hope will take place now with clarity between two people," Pelosi said.
"Here's the thing, I'm so proud to be a Democrat because to be a Democrat is to respect other opinions," she said, adding that "our diversity is our strength, but our unity is our power." Pelosi pointed out that differences within the party are small compared to the "chasm" between them and President Trump.
When Warren announced the suspension of her campaign Thursday, she said she entered the race believing that there could be a middle lane between the progressive and establishment wings of the party, and was disappointed that this was not the case.