Excerpts from a Monitor breakfast on the political impact of recent Medicare legisation.
US House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi comes from a family with a history of public service. Her father served five terms in the House and later served as mayor of Baltimore. Her brother was also Baltimore's mayor.
Ms. Pelosi graduated from Trinity College in Washington, married Paul Pelosi, and together they raised five children. When the children started school, she began her political career as a Democratic party volunteer and was first elected to the House in 1987, representing the San Francisco Bay area.
She is the first woman in American history to lead a major party in Congress.
On the session of Congress which just ended:
"We just ended a very contentious session of Congress where there was in my view too much partisanship on the part of the Republicans, too little progress for the American people. Again, a Republican congress of missed opportunities."
On President Bush's reelection prospects:
"I think it is always the president's to lose. ...Quite frankly I don't know how a president ever loses with all of the command of the communication that he has and the power, the power that the president has. So yes, it is the president's to lose but I don't find that much different from other times."
On Democratic candidates versus President Bush:
"Any one of them will do a much better job in terms of addressing the concerns of the American people, leading our country internationally in a way that demonstrates not only our strength but our greatness."
On the Democratic message:
"It is what the Democrats want to hear - who are we as a party, louder, louder, louder...."
On the political impact of the recent Medicare legislation:
"If there ever was a Trojan horse legislatively this was it...The bill was so bad. We had tried to say to them, let us [come] to the table, let us work together. We want to find that common ground...Now they have to defend that thing. ... They thought that was going to be their strength in the elections that they came up with a prescription drug bill....We didn't support it, we opposed it vigorously. The public is learning more about it. We are going to turn their supposed strength in passing that bill into a weakness....Then we can go in there and write, in I hope a bipartisan way, a prescription drug bill that makes progress for the seniors....Seniors beware of Republicans bearing gifts."
On whether Democrats hate President Bush:
"I think the Republicans would like the public to think the Democrats hate Bush. I think we disagree with his positions. I don't think hatred has any role to play. I don't hate anybody. So nobody rises to the level of importance to me that I would depart from what I was raised as - you don't hate anybody. I have respect for the president. I respect the office he holds. I want him to succeed.... There is strenuous disagreement [over] the president's policies. He has been reckless in terms of the tax cuts and what that means about mortgaging our childrens' future, the fiscal irresponsibility of this administration is appalling and a cause of concern to the American people....
Secondly, the president has such a huge credibility gap between what he says and what he does. No child left behind, millions of children left behind. The difference between the rhetoric and the reality, the harsh reality, is vast and people see that....I don't think he has any clue, and I say this without any hesitation, I don't think he has any clue as to the impact of his policies on the aspirations of the American people. And so people are upset about that."
On the United States' place in world:
"Never have we been stronger militarily, never, no country has been in the history of the world. And yet never have we been more dependent on other countries and other people for the security of our people....It is absolutely necessary that we regain our stature in the world and we regain the respect that our country deserves for our history but also for what we can do working together for the freedom of mankind."