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Rep. Lynch Endorses Ohio's Tim Ryan For House Minority Leader09:48
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U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., who sponsored a bill signed into law that will give federal workers who are also veterans extra time off to seek medical care, is seen in this 2013 photograph speaking in South Boston. (Steven Senne/AP)
U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., who sponsored a bill signed into law that will give federal workers who are also veterans extra time off to seek medical care, is seen in this 2013 photograph speaking in South Boston. (Steven Senne/AP)
This article is more than 2 years old.

Congressman Stephen Lynch said Monday he endorses Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio for Democratic leader. In a statement, Lynch said:

"While I have enormous respect for Nancy Pelosi, I believe the Democratic Party needs to change its direction and widen its focus in order to regain the trust and support of millions of hard-working American families who are our traditional base."

He also called the last election "an epic failure."

Democrats in the House are slated to vote Wednesday on whether Ryan or current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will lead the caucus. Pelosi has led the House Democrats since 2003.

Interview Highlights

On His Endorsement Of Ryan For The Democratic Party

"I think we need to expand our focus a bit. I think the epic failure in the most recent election is that issues that were foremost in people's minds, I think as far as working families, were traditional issues that the Democratic party has championed for generations. And we lost when those issues were prominent.

"We had someone like Donald Trump in the Republicans take that away from us. I think we talked very little about it in the campaign. There was a different strategy out there but I think in the end, of late, we have become a narrow focused party and that we've forgotten our roots — that people are going to work every single day and need our support. Millions of families haven't had a raise in a long, long time. The conditions were rife for us to win, but we did not have a forceful and meaningful argument to inspire a lot of families and a lot of workers who actually went for Donald Trump and went for the Republicans instead of us. I think we've become and now we're a party of the elite."

On If Either Minority Leader Can Recapture Base

"I absolutely think so. We're having a leader's election. I think that what Tim Ryan's candidacy is based on — it's the difference between San Francisco and Youngstown, Ohio. We're arguing that the economic struggles of average Americans is a unifying theme that captures people of all races and creeds and it does not simply compartmentalize the Democratic party. It's really one that hopefully will unify us in a way that carries a broader appeal, and really gets people to think about our collective destiny instead of just individual issues, as compelling as some of them might be.

MC: Individual issues, what do you mean by that?

"I think that we have long been, the Democrats have long been champions of oppressed people and I think we talk a lot about that. We talk a lot about trending issues but in this last election we talked more about free-range chicken than we talked about American workers, you know.

"I think that if you're going to name individual groups that you're trying to draw in, for instance with Hillary Clinton — I know that Mark Lilla wrote about this a couple of weeks ago in the New York Times — and he talked about at the campaign stops, when she would reach out to Latinos or immigrants that were trying to become citizens, or African American families, or the Black Lives Matter movement, transgender people, and she would call them out during her stops to identify with them and their struggle. But never mentioned white workers who might be 12 percent unemployed in that given location in Michigan or elsewhere. And when you call out to all these groups in your campaign stops and you leave other groups out, then they come to the belief that you don't care about them."

On Republicans Using White Identity Politics In The Election

"But we left a perfect opportunity for [Republicans] to grab the independents and the working class people that have been our base and should've been with us. They've got their shtick and it has never been about fairness for working people and opportunity for people that are trying to achieve the American dream.

"They've been the more elitist party in terms of growth in this country. My point is that we let them take away that group that has been with us forever and that really is our traditional base by never talking about them. We've gotta convince them that we do care about them and that we're in their corner. And we didn't do much of that. We didn't.

"There was a conscious decision to work on some other issues and tie Republicans to Trump and talk about a lack of experience and all of that, which was factually correct, but it didn't really inspire people and it was a change election. We were pounding away at how much better experienced and what a better resume and how someone was better, Hillary was much better qualified, but this was a change election. And we got our head handed to us in the election.

"So what I think Tim Ryan from Youngstown, Ohio brings is a perspective that I think resonates with a lot of working people that are struggling of all colors, of all creeds, and I think its a unifying theme. A lot of America hasn't had a raise in a very, very long time and those people should be with us — those are issues that we've been talking about for a long time. We're talking about raising the minimum wage, we're talking about preserving Davis Bacon so that you can't undermine the wages of workers in a given region by bringing in workers from another region, we're the ones that are talking about fair labor standards and trying to lift workers and help them in these difficult times."

Guest

Stephen Lynch, congressman serving the 8th Congressional District of Massachusetts, ranking Democrat on the House Subcommittee on National Security. He tweets @RepStephenLynch.

This segment aired on November 29, 2016.

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