“It’s almost liberating to be here, with a Democratic president whose commitment to the future is based on shared values with the American people,” Pelosi said. “I don’t want to say it’s better than having the gavel, but it’s better than the last term – infinitely better than the last term because some of the people, the antigovernment ideologues, some of them are gone, and that message has largely been rejected by the American people.”
But standing shoulder to shoulder with many of her 60 female Democratic House allies, she also heralded the diversity of the caucus as drawing her back to leadership. House Democrats will be the most diverse caucus in history, a majority of them being women and minorities.
“This picture before you is worth millions of votes. Millions of women’s votes that it took to reelect President Barack Obama, millions of women’s votes who helped us elect a record number of women to the Congress of the United States,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi’s return to leadership was the subject of some scrutiny, given her party’s inability to retake the House in 2012 and the fact that the longtime leaders of the House Democrats are of increasing age, potentially stalling the political advancement of younger party members.
Pelosi, perhaps the second most powerful fundraiser among Democratic elected officials behind the president himself, is also politically controversial: She was vilified by Republicans during their successful romp in the 2010 elections as the epitome of Washington liberalism, and afterward she faced a leadership challenge from blue dog Democrat Heath Shuler of North Carolina on the grounds that she had made Democrats unelectable in conservative territory.