Minority Leader Pelosi's priority: Recapturing House for Democrats
WASHINGTON — Nancy Pelosi says she cares more about enabling Democrats to regain control of the U.S. House than becoming speaker again.
“It's not about me. It is about what we have to do for the American people,” she said.
Democrats control the Senate.
Pelosi and other party leaders are eyeing two Republican seats in Pennsylvania: Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick's 8th District in Bucks County and the 12th District of freshman Rep. Keith Rothfus of Sewickley. Winning those seats could indicate support the Democrats need to recapture the lower chamber, analysts say.
Both congressmen have Democratic rivals raising money for the 2014 election.
“Those would be very important races for us,” Pelosi told the Tribune-Review. She is cautious about predictions: “... I can tell you in six months if we are going to win this. We are way ahead of where we thought we would be.”
Pelosi, 73, a Californian who went from being the nation's first female House speaker to minority leader in 2011, talked candidly about her goals and accomplishments in an interview in her Capitol office overlooking the Supreme Court.
“If the Democrats restored Pelosi to the speakership in 2015, it would basically be a historically unprecedented feat,” said Kyle Kondik, a political scientist with the University of Virginia who notes that a president's party never has taken control of the House in a midterm election.
“That's not to say it's impossible, but rather that it is a very difficult objective,” Kondik said.
Despite entrenched party positions and debates in Congress, Pelosi said she wants to encourage cooperation with Republicans led by Speaker John Boehner of Ohio.
“That is our goal,” she said. “If we can't, we want to win the elections so that we can engage in bipartisan cooperation from the majority standpoint.”
At a fundraiser this month in Pelosi's hometown of San Francisco, President Obama told supporters: “My job is to make sure we move the country forward, and I think we can best do that if Nancy Pelosi is speaker of the House once again.”
During the first two years of his first term, when Democrats controlled both chambers in Congress, Obama pushed through major policies: the more than $800 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; a $79 billion bailout for General Motors, Chrysler and GMAC; and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
In his State of the Union address in January, Obama vowed to push for legislation on immigration, gun control and climate change.
Pelosi believes Republicans are taking note of public sentiment that favors the president's agenda. The election, she said, “showed the Democrats they can press on issues that Republicans refused to talk about before,” such as immigration and gun control.
“Nothing Democrat elected officials could have said before the election could be put as eloquently as 70 percent of Hispanics voting Democrat last November,” she said. “Now the Republicans are for comprehensive immigration reform.”
On the question of gun restrictions, she believes the parties will reach a “bold common denominator.”
To control the House, Democrats need a net total of 17 seats in 2014. Redistricting helped Republicans maintain control of congressional delegations in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Virginia and Wisconsin, states that Obama won in 2008 and 2012. Of Pennsylvania's 18 congressional seats, 13 are Republican.
Bert Rockman, a presidential scholar at Purdue University, said Pelosi has strengths. She is “a fundraiser par excellence,” he said, and “she articulates the Democrats' causes well.”
But her loyalty to Obama could be a weakness, Rockman said.
“Often she has had her caucus take politically risky positions precisely because she was so frustrated with the Senate and its labyrinthian ways,” he said.
Rockman suspects Republicans will maintain their hold in the House.
“Although they may actually lose a few seats, they have margin to spare,” he said.
Even without majority influence, Pelosi praised her party's efforts to recruit minorities and women to run for House seats. She'll work to keep a Democrat in the Montgomery County seat held by Rep. Allyson Schwartz, who intends to run for Pennsylvania governor.
Diversity leads to diverse ideas, she said.
“So while the Republicans figure out how they talk to women and minorities, we have a majority of them as part of our caucus,” Pelosi said.
Salena Zito is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach her at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins notebook: Road trip increases in difficulty
- Agent: Polamalu undecided whether to play in 2015
- Federal jury says gas company shorted owners on royalties
- Mt. Lebanon deer-culling corrals sprayed with urine, repellent
- Police looking for man they say assaulted a 13-year-old girl
- Starkey: In defense of Mel Kiper Jr.
- Loose barges on the Mon highlight woes of winter’s end
- Parkway East closure lifted after truck with loose load of coils forces detour
- Audit: Pitt oversight of youth camp staff backgrounds spotty
- Penguins forwards struggle in loss to Avalanche
- EF’s Fournier emerges from prelims at PIAA Class AA tournament