In an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer yesterday, outgoing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi stood by her agenda, particularly health care reform. Sawyer repeatedly asked her if she had any regrets, but the only concession Pelosi made was that Democrats could have worked harder on conveying their message.
"There's nothing I could do about nine and a half percent unemployment," Pelosi said. "I really don't like to look back so much. This is about looking forward, and we feel very confident about the decisions that we made. ... Should we have been talking about it more and working on it less? That's a question."
Pelosi made a distinction between voters rejecting the Democratic agenda and not being happy with the pace of economic recovery. "The message [of last night] was not, 'I reject the course that you are on,'" Pelosi said. "The message is that it didn't go fast enough to produce jobs."
Sawyer focused on the role of health care reform in Tuesday's elections, bringing up Republicans' desire to repeal the legislation--a course of action Pelosi said would be "most unfortunate."
The speaker stressed that the bill Congress finally passed was not without Republican input. "I had many things in the bill that I was personally committed to for decades" that didn't make the final cut. She cited the public option as one sacrifice she and her Democratic colleagues made. "That bill itself was a compromise. You'd never know that from the way it was represented. ... We just didn't have any Republican votes because they wanted to hold it up."
Sawyer moved on to Pelosi's presumed replacement as speaker, Republican Minority Leader John Boehner. "It's a high school question," Sawyer said, "but do you like him?"
"Of course!" Pelosi said. "We've had a good rapport." She called Boehner, who's known for his chummy relationships with colleagues and lobbyists, a "very amiable person. He has many friends in the Congress. Hopefully he will continue to have those relationships as he goes forward and his conference will allow him to do that."
Pelosi didn't bristle when Sawyer brought up the personal vitriol that's been directed at her throughout this campaign cycle: buses with "Fire Pelosi!" painted on their sides, Tea Partiers declaring that their biggest victory on Tuesday was firing Nancy Pelosi.
After a little bit of prodding, Pelosi admitted that while being the "personification of health care and the rest" was a compliment, the stigma attached to it wasn't fun:
But would you put that ahead of getting the job done? It's less important to me what they say about me than my colleagues not coming back. ... Maybe it's a level of being a woman and having a sort of commitment to what you have to do and understanding that you're not what's important in it. What's important is getting the job done, not keeping the job.
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