Nancy Pelosi: Glass of Water Could Take Districts Like Mine and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's—'That's Not Where We Have to Win the Election'

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has played down Democratic victories in districts such as her own and that of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, fending off calls from some of the party's newer members and politicians to shift leftward.

Ocasio-Cortez, 29, a self-described democratic socialist, defeated 10-term incumbent Joe Crowley in a Democratic primary before winning New York's 14th District last November. She is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress and has become the face of a movement that's pushing for Democrats to adopt more "progressive" policies, such as free health care, free tuition and a higher minimum wage.

But the movement faces resistance from the party's center and right factions, which believe a significant move left would not win votes and would be a major electoral mistake that would keep the Republican Party in the presidency and hand it control of both chambers of Congress.

"When we won this election, it wasn't in districts like mine or Alexandria's. And she's a wonderful member of Congress, I think all of our colleagues will attest," Pelosi, a California Democrat, told an audience Monday night at a London School of Economics event during a U.K. visit.

"But those are districts that are solidly Democratic. This glass of water would win with a D next to its name in those districts," she said, picking up the water at her table.

"And not to diminish the exuberance, and the personality, and the rest of Alexandria and the other members...but the 43 districts—we won 43, net gain of 40—were right down the middle. mainstream, hold-the-center victories.

"If we're going to be helping the one-in-five children in America who goes to sleep hungry at night, who lives in poverty in our country, we have to win."

CBS' 60 Minutes interviewed Pelosi on Sunday, during which she dismissed the far-left wing of Democratic representatives, including Ocasio-Cortez, as "like five people." She previously referred to the Green New Deal as "the green dream" to Politico.

"Now, I'm a liberal from San Francisco," Pelosi said on Monday night. "I can compare my liberal credentials across the board. And I said to them, anything that you're about, I got that down in my basement 25 years ago. Single payer, all of this. Been there, done that, pushing a stroller many decades ago with all of that, so I share those values."

She continued: "What we're saying is to have a message that appeals to people that does not menace them, that really does address their concerns. When we win, and we have the White House, and we have that, then we can expand our exuberances to some other things.

"But our message, our progressive message, is down the middle."

Pelosi said a strongly left-wing message such as that of Ocasio Cortez "works great in my district, I get over 80 percent in my district, these folks do as well, but that's not where we have to win the election."

She added: "It doesn't mean we...curb those enthusiasms. Reach for the moon. Put out there what you want, go for it, talk about it. But when we have to go into the districts that we have to win, we have to cull that with which we have most in common with these people.

"Not compromising our values, our principles. Not even changing our message. Just, taking a piece of the message that we put forward. This is about winning. This is about winning because so much is at stake."

A spokeswoman for Ocasio-Cortez told Newsweek they had no comment.

This article was updated to say Ocasio-Cortez's office had no comment. The headline on this article was also changed to clarify Pelosi's comments.