WHEN: Today, Wednesday, July 1
Nancy Pelosi made history in 2007 by becoming the first woman speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. She later achieved landmark successes in partnership with President Barack Obama, pushing through economic stimulus legislation, an overhaul of Wall Street regulations and the Affordable Care Act. But electoral defeats followed her legislative successes. Today she leads a Democratic minority in the House, sometimes bucking Obama, as in the recent battle over trade expansion in Asia. She sat down with John Harwood recently over bowls of chocolate fudge ice cream to discuss Democratic gains on social issues, her unfinished aims on climate policy, Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, and her uphill fight to win back the House.
A transcript of Speakeasy with John Harwood featuring House Minority Leader Pelosi follows. All references must be sourced to CNBC.com:
JOHN HARWOOD: Madame Leader - thanks so much for being with us.
NANCY PELOSI: My pleasure, total.
HARWOOD: First of all, tell me about the role that ice cream and chocolate play in your life.
PELOSI: Apart from my family and my commitment to public service, chocolate is my life.
HARWOOD: So, I was reflecting the other day on the course of your career. The first political convention I covered was 1984, Walter Mondale in San Francisco. You were active in politics at that time and the San Francisco Democrats, especially in cultural terms, were seen as out of step with the rest of the country.
PELOSI: They were referencing, in many ways, the pride we took in our LGBT community at that time. I always said to people, "Pay attention to what we're saying because you will be saying it sometime soon."
HARWOOD: Now people look at the House and say, given the way districts are drawn and the number of competitive seats, you guys can't win the house back, even though the country has moved in your direction on cultural issues?
PELOSI: I don't necessarily subscribe to that.
HARWOOD: You don't think it's going be another ten years before Democrats can win back the House?
PELOSI: Not at all. We're very excited--I mean, we have met people who want to run. They believe they can win. It's a presidential year.
HARWOOD: Do you have any concern as Hillary Clinton is running that there is any residual--important residual resistance to the idea of a woman president?
PELOSI: I think the American people are so far ahead of the political leadership in Washington, DC. You can't say, "I should be elected because I'm a woman," and Hillary Clinton does not. That Hillary Clinton happens to be a woman is a wonderful thing. But I, yes, have confidence--I think she will be one of the most qualified people to go into to the Oval Office in a long time.
HARWOOD: Jeb Bush has now formally gotten into the race, and he addressed the issue of dynastic, Clinton-to-Clinton, Bush-to-Bush, and he said, "No, the issue is this country shouldn't be passed from one liberal to the next."
PELOSI: Oh-- (LAUGH)
HARWOOD: What'd you think about that?
PELOSI: Isn't that some-- that's cute. As they say in Texas, it's cute.
HARWOOD: Do you feel any pressure from younger members of your caucus, who want their turn to be the leader, to—retire?
PELOSI: No, I don't feel any pressure from younger members of Congress. Maybe other members of Congress, but not necessarily younger members of Congress. I'm here at the pleasure--
HARWOOD: Assume you're talking about Steny?
PELOSI: No, I'm not talking about Steny. I'm just talking about anybody-- I'm talking about reporters. Did any of you ever ask Tip O'Neill, "Don't you think you're a little old for the job?" I don't think so.
HARWOOD: It's become a characteristic of our politics, especially in congressional campaigns, for the opposing party, the minority party, to-- hold up the-- Speaker or the Senate leader of the other party as a figure of ridicule? How do you react to it?
PELOSI: I think it's an indication of poverty of ideas on their part. They don't have a case to make, so they do -
HARWOOD: But you guys did it to Gingrich, too?
PELOSI: We didn't do it to Gingrich, Gingrich did it to himself. I was effective. I passed the Affordable Care Act. We did all kinds of things. I mean, it's like social security, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act. It's a great thing. It's here to stay. The only thing that bothers me about what they said about me is I'm trying to get women to run for office, and they say, "Do you think I would subject myself to what they subjected you to?" I say, "Well, you won't be the Speaker just yet. Maybe soon.
HARWOOD: Madame Leader, thanks so much for doing this.
PELOSI: My pleasure. Thank you.
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