On Tuesday night's All In, MSNBC host Chris Hayes pressured Rep. Hakeem Jeffries on why he and other top House Democrats would endorse Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) against an AOC-style challenger when he is anti-abortion and gets an "A" rating from the NRA? Is it just because he's an incumbent?
HAYES: Final question for you about a contested primary that happened down in Texas. It happened against an interesting backdrop. Of course, we've seen the leak of what appears to be a draft opinion by the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. We're still waiting on whether that is going to be what the court issues, but many people expect it will. And of course, we've had the Uvalde shooting and discussions of guns and gun safety.
Henry Cuellar, who's an incumbent Democrat in the Rio Grande valley, primaried by a young lawyer named Jessica Cisneros. Cuellar has an A rating from the NRA. He's the lone member of your caucus now who is opposed to abortion rights, everyone else is on the side of Roe. You, Steny Hoyer, Jim Clyburn, Nancy Pelosi, the entire House leadership endorsed Cuellar. Some people went down to campaign for him. And I just want you to respond to people who say that this shows is what the Democratic leadership cares about is just a member of the club. They care about incumbency and who's part of the club, more than they do about issues like Roe, abortion, and guns.
Hayes is 100-percent speaking for AOC, but he didn't mention that after the May 24 primary votes were counted, Cuellar leads Cisneros by 136 votes, or 0.3 percentage points.
It would be exaggerating to suggest Cuellar is a hard-line pro-lifer. While NARAL Pro-Choice America expressed outrage that Cuellar voted last fall against the "Women's Health Protection Act" that aimed to remove all abortion restrictions nationwide, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund scored Cuellar as voting with them 70 percent of the time (although not all of those scorecard votes were abortion votes.)
Don't discount that the biggest bee in the leftist bonnet might be that Cuellar has criticized Biden for his lack of border control, and Cisneros is an avid amnesty-pusher.
Jeffries answered Hayes that he evaluates "the totality of someone's record," and while he may disagree with Cuellar on "reproductive freedom" and on "some gun violence protection measures," Cuellar "did support universal background check legislation that was passed by the House as well as closing the Charleston loophole."
He touted that Cuellar backed the Biden agenda, "whether that's the support for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, ultimately his support for Build Back Better, and many other areas, Henry Cuellar, from my standpoint, had earned my individual support."
Jeffries is positioning himself to replace Pelosi as House Speaker (or Minority Leader), so he's not going to get out of the step with the other leaders.
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