Pelosi To Boehner: You're Not Taking My Gavel

Pelosi To Boehner: You're Not Taking My Gavel

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cali.) said last Friday that she fully expects to hold on to her gavel even as Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) finishes every campaign-related speech by predicting he will be the next Speaker.

"Of course that's what he says," said Pelosi, in an exclusive interview with the Huffington Post. "Of course he does. But we are very confident we will [remain in power] because we don't take anything for granted. We run every race one race at a time, and I make it really clear to my colleagues that my responsibility is to reelect our incumbents, to win our Democratic open seats and then to go after some of their seats."

In a quick detour into the world of electoral politics, Pelosi predicted with gusto that Democrats will retain control of the House even during the likely tumultuous midterm elections. Part of the reason, she said, is that the slate of House Democrats in close races has already "fought the fight" with respect to health care reform, and has the time and confidence to win over their constituents before the election. The main factor, however, is that the GOP has yet to present itself as a threat.

Asked, for instance, about remarks from Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) apologizing to BP for the pressure it received from the White House to set up a $20 billion escrow fund, Pelosi offered a tongue-in-cheek lament.

"[Gen. Stanley] McChrystal came right in and took him [off the front page]," she said, in reference to the former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan who was relieved of his post after making disparaging comments about civilian leadership.

"But it's a gift that keeps on giving because you know what, they're saying that it's a gaffe," she added. "No, it's a clear indication of who they are and that's what you're going to see. We were fighting against the health insurance industry, Republicans said no. We're fighting against Big Oil, the Republicans said no. Democrats are fighting the big banks and financial institutions; Republicans said no. Not one of them voted for the regulatory reform. And on Big Oil, what more did we need than them apologizing? When people are desperate in the Gulf and they're apologizing."

These are, of course, the same broad themes that all Democrats, not just Pelosi, have pitched to voters as Election Day nears -- from the "party of no" label applied to the GOP during the early months of 2009, to the president's speech before a Wisconsin crowd this Wednesday.

But in offering optimism about the upcoming campaign, Pelosi also touched on some specifics. In particular, she took near glee in reflecting on the special election that recently took place for former Rep. Jack Murtha's seat in Pennsylvania.

"They were going to win," Pelosi said, reflecting on how much the GOP trumped its prospects for winning the seat. 'They had a big press conference planned the next day for the burial of the now-dead Democratic Party. And we were looking at them saying: 'You don't even know what you're talking about. We own the ground.'"

"Now, I don't put money into TV unless we own the ground," she added, "because you're just wasting money. And so in that race we had a great candidate and [Mark Critz]... 110,000 door knocks, 89-something thousand phone contacts, a message about jobs and message about repealing the law that allows business and [sic] gives them a tax break for sending jobs overseas. So I was thinking maybe about three points, a clear victory. It was eight and a half points. Eight and a half points! I don't know what they were thinking. But they thought... in other words, we had to go big in the Democratic area and try to control the damage in their area and we kept saying, "Wait until their counties come in."

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