"How many times can we answer the door or the phone and send somebody here or there?" she says. "There has to be a different way. We have to have different public policy to meet the needs of people."
Pelosi came of age in a prefeminist era. Her politics did not grow out of anger or struggle but culture and conviction. As a student at Trinity College (now Trinity Washington University), she was inspired by President Kennedy's call for service. "Because we were in Washington, daughters of Catholic politicians came here in large numbers," says Pat McGuire, president of Trinity. "The Kennedy era was a time of great political fervor and change, a point not lost on students at the nation's leading Catholic college for women."
Pelosi didn't get into the family business right away. When House majority leader Steny Hoyer, her main rival on the way up in House Democratic ranks, was elected to the Maryland State Senate in 1966, Pelosi was caring for her young family in New York City: her husband, Paul, a financier, and three babies, soon to be five children in six years.