Cokie Roberts: Nancy Pelosi will be next speaker because she's a 'master politician'

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11:45 | 11/25/18

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Transcript for Cokie Roberts: Nancy Pelosi will be next speaker because she's a 'master politician'
I think Nancy Pelosi when the history is written will go down as one of the most effective legislative leaders this country's ever seen. Her skill, tenacity, toughness, vision is remarkable. President Obama out this week all but endorsing Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the house. We'll talk about that now with cokie Roberts, CNN contributor and Republican strategist Amanda carpenter, Michelle Cottle and Jason Riley. Let's begin with the speaker run. More than a couple Democrats ran for election this year said they're not going to support her. She said I'm going to be the next speaker and you see the opposition slowly -- Crumble. It hasn't completely caved yet. It better. She's going to be speaker and they're going to be on the wrong side. She's a master politician. She learned it at her father's knee as the mayor of Baltimore and she's taken it through her political life. She's using all kinds of lures to people to say this is the way you can succeed in the house of representatives and they are then saying okay that works for me, I'll vote for you. The fact she's not a shoe-in tells you something about the split in her caucus. There are people who want to move in a different generationally. Nancy Pelosi is 78 years old. Her number three is 79. Number three Democrat is 78 years old. Some people want to make room for a new generation. There's also the issue of whether she'll be able to control the caucus. Democrats will be in control of a couple different oversight committees. Will they want to work across the aisle? Will they want to hold hearings endlessly? The Democrats are in a situation here. This is the argument for Pelosi though. You need someone who knows how to herd the cats. She does this better than anyone. She can control that caucus better than anyone they can put forward. If the Democrats overreach and look like they're being punitive or political, then they're going to get blow back and shoot themselves in the foot. This is an argument for her. The question of why some Democrats are reluctant to back her is fascinating to watch. There's been questions is it ageist? No. She's an effective legislator, she does great at member relationships, but she's a terrible message. Her key legislation package was the ACA. She mired the package of the ACA saying you have to pass it to see what's in it. Democrats want someone who can be a bold voice. She can put other people out to be the messenger. This disruption in the democratic caucus is hardly news. That's been true for -- remember working through the leadership there. I was there, yes. It was always a problem. The fact is that the people who thought that she was a problem for them in their races were inexperienced. Whomever the democratic leader was was going to be a problem for them in their races. You remember morphing into tip o'neil. And the Republicans had to deal with morphing into newt Gingrich in later years. That's going to be the case for whomever is the leader. That person will be the signature person in the Democrat party and the Republicans will run against that person. Jason, you pointed out she doesn't have it done yet. You have these Democrats who made rock hard promises to not support. Some have already changed her minds. She's trying to do something. She's handing out some goodies. She ought to. Ask Republican legislators what that can do to your plans. Nancy Pelosi can have that equivalent if she doesn't change her plans. It's not just generational. It's also geographical. The legislators on both coasts. We want to make appeals to middle America. Is Nancy Pelosi the person to do that? Or should we be going for a different face? It doesn't appear to be ideological. It is not. You don't have her members saying she's too X, she's too Y. What they talk about is she's been at the top too long. She spent 15 years leading this caucus. What she needs to do -- and she started doing it already. She needs to talk about herself as a transitional leader. She has used the phrase I'm a transitional figure. The house Democrats have been terrible about grooming the next generation of leaders. They have had members leave the house. If you're a young ambitious Democrat, you leave the house. There's no place to move up. What she have needs to do -- what the entire leadership team needs to do is look to people like hakeem Jeffries. They have a dozen up and comers who need to be put in a position so come 2020 they can take over this. It has to be done in a way that doesn't alienate a lot of people. That cab -- that can be -- remember, house fights can be really rough. What can happen is a whole generation of members are marred by a fight in the leadership. So far at least there isn't even a candidate taking on Nancy Pelosi. The person who was going to be the speaker was Joe Crowley. I think they're finding a way to find their voice knowing Nancy Pelosi is going to be in charge. Will the first bill begun violence? The great new deal will ultimately be become a part of a democratic platform and something that someone campaigns on in 2020. Hr1 is going to be the democracy reform bill. That's in some ways to aye piece Marcia fudge who might have possibly run against her. You mentioned investigations. I wonder if the discussion of overreach is overdone. If the Democrats choose to look at how Matt Whitaker got his job and if they chose to look at the president's statements about Saudi Arabia and the khashoggi murder, if they choose to look at how the military has been sent to the border, is that a danger for them? I think there's a danger of oven reach and promises they made. When we have the gavel, we're going to do the oversight the Republicans refused to do when they controlled the chamber. They made promises to voters to look into things. There is a temptation there for show boat. There's a difference between these kinds of issues and drilling down on hush money payments to former mistresses. Stormy Daniels. Right. You need to avoid the overtly political ones. The challenge is there are so many legitimate avenues of inquiry. You have to prioritize. They're working on meetings. They're very aware of this issue. There's a difference between overreach and oversight. The truth is it's congress' job to do oversight. That is one of the things they're supposed to be doing. If you have government agencies that are doing things that are inappropriate or illegal, the congress has a duty to oversee that. Amanda, this is a brand new world for the trump white house who has escaped any kind of oversight for the last two years. I don't think what the trump white house realizes is that the Democrats are going to get his tax returns. The house ways and means chairman can just ask for them. Treasury can put up a fight. It will probably go to court. There's an old 1924 law that allows them to get that. Not only that, the ways and means chairman can't publicly disclose it, but he can look at what he learns to talk to other law makers to inform other investigations. Adam Schiff has already forecasted where he's going to go. Head of intelligence committee. Yes. He wants to look at the finances in terms of money laundering to see if the Russians had any leverage over trump. That's the best framing I've seen a Democrat put on this that has not reached overreaching. Let's talk before we go about the midterm elections that aren't quite over yet. Let's talk about the Mississippi race where the Republican candidate has made some statements related to lynchings and hangings. Let's listen. For anyone that was offended by my comments, I certainly apologize. This comment was twisted and turned into a weapon to be used against me. I don't know what's in your heart. We all know what came out of your mouth. What's caused our state harm is it's given our state another black eye that we don't need. It's rejuvenated old stereotypes we don't need anymore. New revelation this morning she attended a segregated school. And sent her child to one. That is more important. Is it conceivable the Republican in Mississippi loses? No. Anything is conceivable. We have a Democrat out of Alabama. It's think it's a long shot. It has degenerated into all racial politics. Although espy is trying really hard not to make it all about race. He keeps talking as you heard him say, it's about Mississippi going forward. It's about not having this old image of Mississippi as a racist state where you can't do business. A lot of businesses have pulled their money out of her campaign because they did see it exactly that way, that she was making racist statements that they didn't want to be associated with. It gets to the question about how rapidly the south is changing. This has been in the democratic playbook for decades. Paint the Republican candidate as racist. We saw it in this race. We saw it in Georgia there was voter suppression. We saw it in Florida, they're trying to steal the election. We've seen this come out of Democrats before. I don't think espy is playing it down. I think he's playing it up. I think he saw an opening here. There's a difference between hanging and lynching. No one seems to be making that distinction. I think when your senate race ends up being a debate over the difference between hanging and lynching -- It was also wearing the confederate hat. There were hundreds if not thousands of schools that opened after brown for this purpose. A lot of them are integrated today. Blaming someone for where their parents send them to school -- That's why I said it was more important to where she sent her daughter. I question why she was appointed to that seat. She has a troubled background. I think GOP women just wanted another quiet woman in the senate who wouldn't fight.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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