White House paints Handel win as Trump triumph

But they quickly did a 180 when the Georgia race, and a less publicized House contest in SC that the Republican won by 3 percent, turned into an easy 4-point win for Handel.

"They always want to choose our leaders", Pelosi said Thursday. "Either that, or Democrats just aren't very good with numbers".

Ellison said the Georgia 6th was not as competitive as 64 other House seats that Democrats could win in 2018 to wrest control away from Republicans, adding, "They're the ones who better be anxious".

Pelosi "consistently polls very unfavorably", said John Rogers, the executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee - the House GOP's campaign arm.

Mrs Handel said at her victory rally that she knew it was going to "require all hands on deck" for Republicans to hold on to the district. Trump's dismal performance as commander in chief, the GOP's terrible record so far and Democrats dramatic over performance in the last four special elections in reliably red districts, all make for a mix of energy and optimism for us going into 2018.

The House Democratic leader is seeking to reassure Democrats dejected after a loss in a Georgia special election where the party invested millions of dollars. California Congresswoman Karen Bass says while the Pelosi attack ads might have worked in the traditionally red 6th District of Georgia. While speaking to the Iowa crowd, Trump called on Democrats to work with Republicans in Congress, before insulting them as "obstructionists".

"Look we need to win, everything else is bulls***", Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of NY told reporters leaving the meeting.

Wednesday, Pelosi stressed that now was the time for Democrats to come together. To pull this off Handel had to keep her distance from Trump.

The top three House Democrats are now Pelosi, who is 77; Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, who is 78; and South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, who is 76.

Inside a House Democratic Caucus meeting Wednesday morning on Capitol Hill, Pelosi labeled the loss as "clearly a setback", according to a person in the room who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a private meeting. One prime reason: Nancy Pelosi.

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"So", she said, "we are paving a way for a new generation of leadership". Yes, ads linked Ossoff to the minority leader - they also linked him to Kathy Griffin, black-block anarchists, and the guy that shot Steve Scalise.

Democrats supportive of Pelosi have long argued that even if she stepped aside, Republicans would demonize any new leader the party elevated.

During the general election, Trump ripped into Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton on a daily basis, going as far as promoting debunked conspiracy theories about her health. It would literally be too late for Pelosi to announce her departure the day after the election.

"Oh my gosh. Ugh", Handel said to Elliot about running again in a short matter of time. Democrats are lagging 0-4 in congressional elections this year, having earlier lost races in Kansas and Montana.

And progressive activists' willingness to pour millions of dollars' worth of small-dollar online contributions into Ossoff's campaign - donations fueled nearly entirely by a desire to deal Trump a political setback - was what convinced Democrats to take the race seriously.

She also dismissed the notion that the Republicans' longtime tactic to hold her up as a partisan lightening rod drags down public opinion about fellow congressional Democrats and candidates.

But some rank-and-file House Democrats scoffed at such explanations and raised questions about Pelosi's continued leadership.

Ossoff initially campaigned on a promise to "make Trump furious" but more recently backed off that approach.