As the Republican Party prepares to reset the nation’s political agenda, Democrats are seeking new governing strategies under a revamped GOP mandate. While post-election analysis points to several Party missteps among key voting blocs, the Democratic Party itself has opted to stay the course with the current leadership in the House. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MO) and Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn (D-SC) were re-elected to the top leadership positions, despite calls for change from within the party.

Democratic Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) was re-elected to only his second term in November. As a junior member of the party, Beyer sits down with Soledad to discuss next steps and how to win back the Rust Belt voters.

*THIS IS A ROUGH TRANSCRIPT. COPY MAY HAVE SOME ERRORS. O'Brien: Democratic congressman Don Beyer was reelected for his second term representing northern VA, nice to have you with us Beyer: Thank you Soledad O'Brien: do you think the democrats are in crisis? Beyer: It feels that way. I've been back in congress the last two weeks and there have been many many long meetings and not so much finger pointing but hand wringing. Everyone tries to figure where to go from here. The good news is that I haven't seen this energy in the democratic party in a long time. O'Brien: That's encouraging for democrats. Republicans did the autopsy after they lost and looked at what went wrong, what would you analyze as what went wrong in this election? Beyer: We have lost the saliency of our brand, and I think I read that Clinton lost rural small town America by a 3 to 1 margin and if it had been 2 to 1 she would be the pres elect. We do wonderful on the coast - CA, NY, VA. but we have to get the middle part of America O'Brien: A lot of analysis focused on the white working class voter but it's actually the white middle class and the wealthy white voter that went for Trump. People who were typical republicans remained typical republicans, and some of the people that voted for Obama in 2012, a couple hundred counties would then the next time voted for trump. Is the strategy now to try to get back those voters? those trump voters? Or do you look at the lifelong democrats who didn't come out in this election Beyer: I give you great credit for putting your finger on exactly the existential problem, exactly the debate in the democratic party. We have always been the party of the underdog. And these have been underdog groups. These are the groups need that legitimacy, need embracing. The dilemma was, in some ways, we have lost the folks that aren't part of those identity groups and so the other part realizes we need to go to coal communities, farm communities, manufacturing communities that have been devastated and have real messages of economic growth and jobs and opportunity for them just as well O'Brien: Don't you think white was an identity in this election? we talk about identity politics and I think white is an identity that can be identified in this particular election. There was an article in TIME. They interviewed a young woman talking about her vote and she said - I'll paraphrase - she said Clinton reached out to minorities and immigrants but didn't care about everyday Americans. Beyer: I think, perhaps even the emphasis on identity politics or these other groups has almost created, by reaction, the sense of a white identity which maybe didn't exist before. I think some stats yesterday that Hillary's percentage of the white vote was the lowest anyone has had in many years. Its been a slow decline. So it is my hope that the democratic way forward will not be to abandon this wonderful base but to find ways to bring everyone together O'Brien: Can you, within 2 years before the midterm elections, reach those people? Beyer: Truly rebuilding the dem brand in rural america, the small town america, the middle of the country, is going to be a generational challenge. We're not going to do in two years but we got to get out there right away and we start with authentically caring about their issues and their lives and building policy and leadership around that. O'Brien: we'll see congressman thank you for your time Beyer: thank you soledad very much
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