Nancy Pelosi says she has the votes to be elected speaker

Pelosi: "I intend to win the speakership"

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is confident she has the votes to be elected speaker of the House, she said at a press conference Thursday, in advance of Democratic leadership elections that will be held later this month. Pelosi is currently unchallenged for the post of speaker of the House in the 116th Congress, when Democrats take the majority, but several Democratic members have expressed displeasure with her leadership and a desire to elect a new leader.

Asked about the leadership race, Pelosi encouraged other members to challenge her for the gavel. "Come on in -- the water is warm," she quipped.

When a reporter asked her about a letter from members opposing her candidacy for speaker, Pelosi noted that no one -- including the reporter -- has yet seen the letter. She also dismissed the importance of the race.

"I have a day job here that's different than just what's happening on the political side," she said. She also expressed confidence that if the election was held today, she would win the speakership. "I intend to win the speakership with Democratic votes. I have overwhelming support in my caucus to be speaker of the House," she said.

She has also raised the prospect of being a "transitional" speaker, forging the path for a new House leader after her term.

During the conference, Pelosi also praised the advancements Democrats made in the House in the midterm elections, saying that this year's freshman Democratic class was the largest since the "Watergate babies." She also noted the record number of women elected to Congress in 2018. When all the votes are counted, CBS News estimates there will be more than 100 women elected to the House of Representatives.

Bo Erickson contributed to this report.