Host: Brian Lamb
Guest: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (D-CA)
BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Nancy Pelosi, why did you call your book, ”Know Your Power”?
REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA: ”Know Your Power” is a phrase that a great woman, Congresswoman Lindy Boggs used to be long before I came to Congress. I was telling her that I had all of these honors, I was chair of the host committee of the 1984 convention, and I was chair of the delegate selection committee compliance committee and this or that. And I said, I think, I have too many honors I should pass one of them on to someone else. And she said, ”Darling, no man would have ever said that, know your power.” But actually she said, know thy power.
LAMB: Where did she get that phrase?
PELOSI: I don’t know. She was the source of many words of wisdom to those of us who served with her in the Congress. This was previous to my coming to Congress but she was a friend of my family and I was talking to her in the time leading up to the democratic convention in California in 1984 in San Francisco.
LAMB: On the ’know your power’ question it goes and then it leads right to your first ever national political effort you said was in Maryland for Jerry Brown.
LAMB: Why? What was that all about?
PELOSI: In 1976, Jerry Brown our new governor of California, new charismatic young governor decided that he wanted to run for president. He was getting all kinds of national attention for his small is beautiful and fiscal responsibility and he decided he wanted to run. I thought our primary in California was in the California primary was in June. And I thought, by the time June came around it would be all over. So it so happened that the Maryland Secretary of State had declared that any candidate who is a recognized candidate in any other state of the union would be on the ballot in Maryland unless that person chose to take his or her name off the ballot. So I called Leo McCarthy my friend who was the chair of Jerry Brown’s campaign and I said we should go to Maryland.
Jerry agreed. We did. And that’s really how I went from kitchen to more involvement in the Democratic Party.
LAMB: What happened in Maryland for Jerry Brown?
PELOSI: In Maryland, it was a remarkable campaign. Really quite similar to the Obama campaign in that thousands of people came out mostly young people to hear his message. We would have to keep getting ever larger venues to accommodate the crowds that turned out for him. And even though we got into the campaign three weeks before the primary, he won the popular vote in Maryland. The popular vote didn’t match the delegates to the convention but it was a victory and Jerry Brown went back to California to welcome him back. At the big welcoming party he stood up and declared that Nancy Pelosi was the architect of his Maryland campaign.
My father is a former mayor. My brother is the former mayor of Baltimore. We had many contacts there in Maryland. Ted Benatulus (ph) who was the county executive had an organization and that was the beginning of the campaign and many others. Of course, many others joined in and Jerry Brown was magnificent. And so anyway, that was my transition.
LAMB: Why did you have the subtitle on this book, ”A Message to America’s Daughters”?
PELOSI: It goes with the title. Know your power. That’s my message to America’s daughters and then some elaboration of that throughout the book. I really want women to know their power, to value their experience. To understand that nothing has been more wholesome in the political process than the increased involvement of women. But it doesn’t matter if your interest is politics or academia or corporate world or whatever, being at home and raising your family, the most challenging task of all.
Whatever it is understand what your bring to the table is unique and authentic and real and again, the more women who participate the more wholesome the process and that is a very good thing for our country, I believe.
LAMB: Five children. We know Alexandra from her public performances from time-to-time, who’s the oldest?
PELOSI: We have five children. Nancy Corinne is the oldest. Four of my five children were born in Manhattan. Nancy Corinne. Christine. Christine has written a book called ”Campaign Boot Camp” and she’s on the circuit as well now with her book. And next is my daughter Jacqueline who lives in Texas and she has three little boys. Nancy Corrine has two children, she lives in Arizona. Our son, Paul, who lives in California. And then the only child born in California is Alexandra and she lives now in New York with her husband and her two babies.
LAMB: What does Nancy Corinne do?
PELOSI: Nancy Corinne she’s a sweetheart. She’s in the hospitality she has two children, so that’s her main occupation raising her family a little boy Alexander, 11, and her daughter Madeline who is 9. And she is in the hospitality business. She loves people, it’s no wonder that she is.
LAMB: What part of California?
PELOSI: She lives in Texas.
I’m sorry did I say California? She lives I’m sorry Nancy Corrine lives in Arizona, in Scottsdale, Arizona. See, my husband and I when we had our five children and they were grown we thought we were entitled to grandchildren. And so we were just expecting this to happen, of course, nothing was happening. And then we kept begging, bribing, cajoling, anything, threatening to adopt our own grandchildren and finally we got some grandchildren. Three in Texas, two in Arizona and two in New York but we forgot to pray that they live down the street. But we’re grateful to have them whatever it is.
So Nancy Corinne is in the hospitality business and she lives in Arizona.
LAMB: What does Christine do?
PELOSI: Christine she’s married and has a stepson and she lives in San Francisco with her husband, Peter. And they have and she is Christine is our of my children the most politically interested and active. She’s an attorney. She served in the Clinton administration in special council at HUD. She waited she worked for a while waiting for the Kerry Administration the Gore Administration and then the Kerry Administration. But now, she’s back home in California and she is she’s just written a book called Campaign Boot Camp which has the lessons that you should learn in order to be effective in the management of a political campaign and therefore any campaign that you embark upon.
And so she’s frequently called upon on the in TV commentary for her expertise. She’s a member of the Democratic National Committee. And she runs these boot camps to train candidates and future leaders.
LAMB: What’s her last name?
PELOSI: Her name is Christine Pelosi. Her husband’s name is Kauffman. Yes, she’s newly wed.
LAMB: Jacqueline is where, and what does she do?
PELOSI: Jacqueline lives in Houston, Texas. And she is a she has three little boys, 11, nine and seven, Liam, Sean, and Ryan. They’re adorable as all grandchildren are. And she has a school. It’s called Art Mix Learning Center. And she teaches art and creative art in a very beautiful way. She likes it’s called Art Mix because she likes to have in the mix teaching children with special needs but she likes them in the mix. So she has Art Mix Learning Center in Houston, Texas.
LAMB: Paul Jr.
PELOSI: Paul Jr. is at home. He has no children. He’s not married. He lives at not at home, but he lives in San Francisco. And Paul is a JD MBA, a lawyer and MBA and he works in finance and one day hopefully he will get married, but of course, that’s none of my business. And then there’s Alexandra who lives in New York. And my kids are Christine, for example, she’s a complete avid sports fan. She loves politics and she loves sports. She knows of every stat of every sport you can imagine. Paul is very much up there with her too in the love of sports.
LAMB: As you know, the stories I mean with the system we have now, the stories various ones, say your husband Paul, you as a family, one of the richest people in the House of Representatives. I’ve seen the story that says 25 million, one 16 million, what does he do? How did he make all of that money?
PELOSI: Paul is a businessman. And when we married shortly after college he worked in New York at a bank in New York which is now Citibank. In those days it was called First National Citibank, it was that long ago. And he has his own company in California. When we moved from New York back home Paul who is a native born and raised in San Francisco he came to work for another company and then he formed his own company. And then they do investments in real estate and other investments. And so but these ranges, I think, something should be done about those ranges because the ranges are very far and your children could get the wrong impression about what’s in store for them.
LAMB: Why do you think they do that?
PELOSI: I don’t know. They should be changed. It should be changed, for example, it will say your home is worth between well, not your own home that you live in that doesn’t count but say you have a second home, they’re going between one million between five million, well that’s a big difference. Then you have two or three of those and you have a very big range that could be much closer to the lower. But the same thing right down the line. I think it should be changed to be if there’s a purpose to this, and I think, there is, to be more reflective of what the assets and liabilities are lest your children get the wrong impression that what’s in store.
LAMB: Why did you do this book?
PELOSI: I did the book because so many people asked me how did you get from the kitchen to the Congress? How did you go from being a homemaker to House Speaker? And so I thought, let me just write it in my own words in a way that values what I did as a mom and so that other women will too.
LAMB: How did you go about it? On the cover it says with Amy Hill Hearth.
PELOSI: Yes, well first they told me I should dictate my story which I did but it was like 1,100 pages long so Amy helped me condense all of this down to something that was more readable and serviceable in terms of a book and she was wonderful to work with.
LAMB: Eleven hundred. This book is only what is it? It’s 170 pages long.
PELOSI: Right. Well, let’s put it this way, I’m saving some of it for another time. We just didn’t boil everything down to this book. We took some things out and just focused on the message part of it.
LAMB: When did you do that?
PELOSI: Late at night and early in the morning. That’s by and large what it is. And I kind of miss doing that late at night and early in the morning. It was a real discipline to do it.
LAMB: Over what period of time did you do it?
PELOSI: Well, I did the dictation, you know, with a recorder and with another person, (Jim Kaplan) who helped me who asked me some questions that I then dictated to. I did that like last August and September. And then we went back into session. You know we were out of session I could do more. So we went back into session so we tried to prioritize some of that information. But probably after Christmas I started to think this is the form that I wanted the book to take. So the first part of the year we finished that up.
And it takes a while between when you finish the book and when the book it comes out, I’m learning.
LAMB: I took a bunch of notes on some of the things that it read and I want to ask you to expand on a little bit. The one word I read several times in your book is the word faith. And you wrote, ”Growing up Catholic had an enormous impact on me-- greater, I am certain, than growing up in a political family.” Why?
PELOSI: Well, I think it’s self-evident, I mean, I make that statement because everybody knows that I grew up in a political family. But faith was a very is and has been a very important part of my family life growing up and now. And it informs my decision making, my value system and my sense of responsibility to the community. And it is a joy in my life.
LAMB: Where did you get the faith?
PELOSI: From my parents and from the nuns in school. I went to Catholic school throughout my whole academic life. In fact my children my husband and I and our children in my own family now have over 100 years of Catholic education among us. But in my case growing up lived in a very Catholic neighborhood, an Italian-American neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland. I like to say that I was christened in the Catholic church but we had Catholic church, the Democratic Party, our Italian-American heritage of which we were very, very proud and a deep patriotism for a love of country of America. So in some order we have all of that.
LAMB: You said also, ”I told them”, meaning the democratic caucus when you spoke to them earlier in the process of being speaker, ”
my parents didn’t raise me to be speaker, they raised me to be holy.”
PELOSI: Well, that was quite spontaneous because when I went up to the when I was nominated mind you this is one week after the election. We’re still counting votes in some of the districts. So I was still sort of in my work mode of finishing off the election but we had the organization organizing which meant that the Democrats would nominate their candidate for Speaker of the House, being in the majority that’s our prerogative.
So when I was nominated by my colleagues I was going up to thank them for it and on the way the chair of the caucus Raum Emanuel leaned over to congratulate me and he said, your parents would be so proud. And it was a stunning moment for me because I thought no my parents are proud, they’re proud of me. It just struck me. And so when I took the microphone, I said, Raum just said my parents would be so proud but they really never raised me to Speaker so there would be no disappointment if I were not. But they did raise me to be holy. And that was really what our orientation was in that era of growing up in a very devout Catholic home in an Italian-American neighborhood close to the church and going to Catholic schools.
And so I guess they want me to be a holy speaker to carry that faith into the position that I into the office of the speaker which I certainly hope that I do.
LAMB: Again, I found this quote ”many of my friends were drawn to politics by the calling of their faith, and the words of the bible.”
PELOSI: This is true. Many of the people that I know who are involved in politics were motivated by their faith whatever that faith may be
bible, Koran, whatever it may be. And, I think, that that is so. The principles of ”love thy neighbor”, ”do unto others” these are all principles that if we all lived by them, I think, the world would be a better place. The bible mentions the word poverty over 2000 times and our responsibilities there. The Gospel of Matthew in terms of when I was hungry you gave me to eat and the tending ministering to as the bible says to the least of our brethren and a value that we place on God’s creation. And so the environment, whether it was respect for the spark of divinity that exists in every person, that’s what I believe and that’s what I see in every person, whether I agree with them or not.
And also, the respect for God’s creation in terms of preserving the environment, many other manifestations of faith in public policy.
LAMB: Let me ask you because you’ve watched this debate over the last couple of years about the Muslim world and all, if you had written this book and, in fact, you were a Muslim, and you were the
speaker of the House of the United States, and you said, growing up Muslim had an enormous impact on me greater, I am certain than growing up in a political family? What do you think the reaction would be given the attitude that you know of the American people? Would they accept it?
PELOSI: Well, Brian, I think, that a person’s faith is probably more central to who they are than the occupation of their family or their parents. So, I think, that’s really almost a given that a person’s faith is more important than whether their parents practice medicine or are involved in politics or whatever it is.
I would hope that the American people would accept whatever a person’s beliefs are if they’re sincere beliefs, and that’s what I would hope. Of course, it’s easy for me to talk about being raised Roman Catholic being raised Catholic because so many people in our country have shared that experience. But I think that if that were my faith, if I were Muslim I would want to explain to them why that was the case, as I tried to explain why that is the case here.
LAMB: The reason I was asking that is if you look at this debate that’s been going on with Barack Obama, people have been on the Internet saying he’s a Muslim as if that is a crime.
PELOSI: A negative, yet.
LAMB: And I wonder what does that say about us as people that they automatically equate that with something wrong?
PELOSI: Well, I hope they don’t. You know, in America, there are more Muslims than there are Episcopalians. And I find that to be interesting. There have been for a long time now, a number of years, more Muslims than Episcopalians. They are very much apart of the many communities in our country. And, I think, that those of us who profess faith and the respect we have for our own faith should respect the faith of others as well.
LAMB: How has I mean we’ve watched also candidates like John Kerry and Rudy Giuliani be criticized or be ostracized or I don’t know what the word is by the Catholic church for their positions on abortion as it relates to whether they can go up and take communion. You’re very outspoken on that whole issue. Does the church give you any difficulties?
PELOSI: Not really. But I think some of it is regional. It depends on the bishop in a certain region. Fortunately, for me it has not communion has not been withheld and I’m a regular communicant so that would be a severe blow to me if that were the case.
But in church this past Sunday in California they gave out what Catholics and the ballot box or something like that and it talked about a range of issues care for the poor, protection of the environment, stopping disarmament, including issues that related to abortion and euthanasia and stem cell research. So there’s some areas where we’re in agreement and some areas where were not and one being a woman’s right to choose, the other being stem cell research.
LAMB: Should the church get into the politics of this?
PELOSI: Well, I think, churches have their limitations because of their 501 (c) 3 status. But separate from that, in terms of the larger issue of church and state, I would hope that the church involvement would be to as they have helped us here on a number of issues, on budget, passing a budget that was humane, that addressed the needs of poor people in America as they had been a voice and issues that relate to protecting the environment. We’re working with evangelicals on the issue of preserving the planet on the issue of climate change, some of the most conservative evangelicals because they view this planet as God’s creation. God’s Garden as they refer to it, as do I, and that we have a moral responsibility to preserve it. And they also say that as we do that we must do so in a way that is not harmful to the poor.
So while we can talk about the differences of people of faith or the church in terms of one issue or another, there are plenty of areas of common interest.
LAMB: In your book, you write ”women were especially blessed with heightened intuition to decide or to advise,” what does that mean?
PELOSI: Well, when I was in college I learned, as we judged leaders, that there’s a difference between deductive reasoning and intuitiveness. And as a legislator it’s OK to be a deductive thinker that you conclude, you have time, you have hearings, you do this, you do that. But as a leader, you have to make a decision, and intuition counts a great deal for that. Intuition that’s based on your values, the knowledge that you have and the judgment that you bring to it. So recognizing that an important quality of leadership is to trust your judgment, your intuition and women are very good at that. I think that that’s just another asset that women bring to the table.
LAMB: What have you learned about the men since you’ve become Speaker?
PELOSI: Since I’ve become Speaker?
LAMB: Because you talk about the old bulls in here and you’ve reversed talk about reversing the old boy system. And you say we have done it.
PELOSI: Well, the minute I got the gavel that changed a great deal. I used to say sometimes it was harder for a woman to become Speaker of the House than to become president of the United States because you see the enthusiasm for women, for a woman candidate and other people, not just women but men as well. Here this has been a, shall we say, a tradition bound institution for over 200 years. And power’s not anything that anybody gives away. You have to fight for it. But the minute you have the gavel the signal is given and the men have been great.
LAMB: Have you changed your mind on men at all since you’ve been
Speaker? Has it been anything that you’ve observed since you got that office?
PELOSI: When you say have I changed my mind about men?
PELOSI: Well, I have you know, I came into a family of six boys, one girl. One of my brothers passed away early and so I was raised in a family of five boys and one girl. So I was not phased by being around a lot of men. And, I think, being raised in that atmosphere served me well when I came to Congress. There were only maybe 20 women when I came to Congress out of 435. Imagine, just all men. It just didn’t seem appropriate in terms of the important decisions we had to make. So one of my goals was to increase the number and we’ve quadrupled that number but that’s still not enough.
But I don’t think there’s anything as eloquent to your colleagues whether they’re men or women that you have the gavel. So there’s I don’t want to say a change in behavior but they respect the authority that the speaker has.
LAMB: Do you intend to stand for election again next time?
PELOSI: Yes, I do. But that would be if the democrats win the election in November which I fully intend to ensure happens.
LAMB: The secret sauce club, what is that story?
PELOSI: The secret sauce club is what when I came here, again, it was a long time ago, 21 years ago, and you would also get this attitude that we’ll take care of it, we know. And it’s not just in the Congress. This happens in many walks of life. It happens in the political arena outside the Congress as well. We know how to do this and so somewhere along the line, I thought, you know they think they have the secret sauce but they’re not winning. So I don’t have any they don’t have any secret sauce or whatever they have it’s not working and that was one of the things that motivated. I had not intention of running for leadership except that I was tired of losing.
So the secret sauce is what I want to say to the young women and women, in general, is that this mystique that because somebody wears a suit and a tie and they have been around for a long time means that they have some secret sauce that only they know the recipe for it doesn’t exist.
Trust your own judgments. You probably have a better idea.
LAMB: If somebody would have seen you along with Steny Hoyer as interns in Senator Daniel Brewster’s office many years ago, would they have guessed that you would end up being speaker were your own knowledge of you?
PELOSI: No, I would never have guessed. I would never have guessed. I didn’t really have any interest in running for political office. I had experienced that. I had been raised when I was born my father was a member of Congress from Maryland. When I was in first grade, he was elected mayor of Baltimore. When I went away to college, he was still mayor of Baltimore. It was the only life I knew. And so I thought that was fine for him but that wasn’t what I was interested in. And just one thing lead to another as I raised my family and became interested in issues and then you find out well, you need a political solution, so I got a little bit drawn back in and became chair of the California democratic party which to me was this following the Jerry Brown success in Maryland, which for me was a tremendous honor, the biggest democratic party in the country, the California Democratic Party and I was the chair. I thought that was the ultimate honor. And then one thing led to another and I came to Congress. But I was never on a path to run.
So to go all the way back to when we were 21 years old or whatever in Danny Brewster’s office, I would never have suspected such a thing of me. Steny, certainly, but not of me.
LAMB: So you would have expected it. You say him at that age and he ended up as one of the leaders?
PELOSI: No, I thought he would just be in political life. You have to understand when you’re an intern in an office you’re not thinking who among us is going to be speaker of the house. You’re just thinking
LAMB: I did have an intern tell me about a week ago that he was going to president of the United States and he meant it.
PELOSI: But you know what, this generation has a lot of confidence and good for them. And I hope one time when I was not in the leadership but I was a member of Congress I was introduced to someone introduced me to his constituent and he said, this is a congresswoman, maybe one day too to this little girl you too will be a congresswoman. We want you to see what you can be. And she said, not me, I’m going to be president of the United States. And I thought, you go girl. She was about nine-years-old.
LAMB: When you were dating your husband, Paul, he asked you to pick up some shirts and you put that in the books. What happened, did you pick them up?
PELOSI: No. It was a funny thing because we were having this conversation about subjects we were studying in school, actually, Korea. And he popped in and I said well, I have to leave now, I’m going to go get take my clothes to the laundry or pick them up whichever it was. And he said, while you’re there will you pick up my shirts and he gave me the ticket. And I thought well you know I’m not going to act like a girl. You know if I were a guy or if one of my girlfriends asked me I would do it so I just put it in my pocket, totally forgot it. Totally forgot it. And I came back, and he said, gee, I thought I had more shirts than that, I totally forgot about your shirts, which was probably a good message to him.
My friends were amused that I had not been so impressed by him that I would go pick up his shirts. Then he when we were newly weds he asked me to iron a shirt, I rolled it up, I put it in a drawer. I think when we gave that bureau to good will some years later somebody said what’s this shirt doing in this drawer?
LAMB: What was his reaction to this?
PELOSI: Where’s my shirt?
LAMB: Did he iron his own shirt?
PELOSI: I said on the shirt thing people make a living doing this and we should support them and we should support in doing that. Take our shirts to the laundry.
LAMB: So you’ve never ironed a shirt of his in all of the years you’ve been married?
PELOSI: Maybe I’ve ironed a shirt. I don’t want to eliminate the prospect of aI don’t think so. I don’t think so. I iron my own shirts.
LAMB: Would you allow him to iron your own blouses?
PELOSI: I would never ask him to iron my blouse. I’ve ironed some of my blouses. Of course, I had five children. So I was more into the get it out of the dryer while it’s hot and flatten it out school of pressing.
LAMB: You lived in a political family. Your brother was the mayor of Baltimore along with your father. If we saw you do what you have to do, you’re not all dressed up, and all that stuff but you’re doing what you have to do to get elected what would we see you doing in the way of I mean I know you have something, I read somewhere 29,000 personal addresses that you’ve collected over the years of somebody you’ve directly had some involvement with. Where do you do those kinds of things? You don’t talk about that much in the book.
PELOSI: No. It’s sort of almost a given kind of a thing, but I never forget for one moment that even though I am Speaker of the House, I am the congresswoman from San Francisco and my constituents expect me to pay attention to them, as proud as they are that I am speaker but not at the cost of not having the immediate attention of their congressperson.
And so I take great inspiration and strength draw great inspiration and strength from being among my constituents and communicating with them.
LAMB: So what is it that somebody if somebody goes to work for you in your office and the chief of staff pulls them aside and says, you better know the following five things about this person if you want to get along in this office.
PELOSI: About me?
LAMB: About you. What would those five things be? What would you what do you want people to know that you demand?
PELOSI: Well, first of all, we have to know who’s boss and that is the American people. Our constituents are our bosses. And that is remember who we work for, we all work for our constituents for the people. Secondly, I’d like no surprises. I’m not interested in surprises of any kind.
The I like people to obviously really associated it with step part one treat the people who call us with great respect, but that’s really part of who’s boss, the American people. No surprises. Sense of organization. Respect for each other in terms of the office, the value that each of them brings to it.
And also just to remember that first, and foremost, I am a mom, and a grandmother, and a wife and that everything that I have to do I will honor my responsibilities to do but I’m a person who handles these personal responsibilities first and foremost.
LAMB: Well, about things like I mean do you have thank you notes? I mean, if you meet somebody you get them back a thank you note within a day or something like that.
PELOSI: Well, I don’t know if it’s within a day but I do think it’s very important to acknowledge the whatever we want to thank someone for. But not only if they’re doing something for us just to acknowledge some great thing that someone may have done for our country, for our community or whatever it is. It’s a recognition of people thanking them for what they do, volunteering to help them if they’re in a time of strife. And just being a friend.
LAMB: You mentioned in the book that the founders were disrupters, magnificent disrupters. Explain more of that what you mean. If somebody disrupts your day, it doesn’t make you very happy.
PELOSI: I love disruption. Yes, I mean, when I say surprises, I don’t want to be surprised about something that I should know about. But disruption is the American way. The founders, think of what they did. Think of what they did, this band of patriots, as they declared their independence from the greatest naval power in the history of the world. They signed an oath, a declaration of independence to fight for that independence. And they wrote the most magnificence doctrine document that the constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights establishing a whole new country, based on a whole idea of equality. I mean a country the world had never seen such a thing. And they transmitted this idea to the world.
And what I like to say about them is that in addition to all of that they wrote, the Declaration, the Constitution, they designed the great seal of the United States. And on that seal it says ”novos ordos seclorum” new order for the centuries, for the centuries. So confident were they in what they were doing that they declared that it would last seclorum or however you translate it for centuries, forever, and for a long time to come. And that confidence, that optimism that determination is what America is all about. But it was disruptive. And it was predicated on the idea that one generation had responsibility to make the future better for the next and that’s the story of America. It became known as the American dream. People flocked from all over the world to be part of it.
And as they did, they made America more American because they brought their determination, their optimism, their hope, their commitment to make the future better for their next generation. So they perpetuated this new order for the centuries and that is and in doing so they were entrepreneurial, disruptive, along the way, that’s our tradition.
Now, it has additional meaning in terms of business. There’s Dr. Kai Christianson (ph) who is a professor at Harvard Business School talks about the innovators dilemma and the innovators solution. He talks about disruption, how entrepreneurs are disruptive of the status quo and that these companies that can do that had this agility to disrupt become you have IBM and AT&T and companies like that which did what they did but then you had a Microsoft come along and do something newer and then you had a Google and a Yahoo! and the rest of it do something newer and that beat goes on. And it isn’t about the status quo. It’s about change. It’s in the tradition, the entrepreneurial spirit of our founders.
LAMB: You lived through the Vietnam War, and I’m sure you remember that right down here on the Mall, they filled it up with 200,000 people protesting the war. We have seen very little of that in the Iraq War. You’ve been opposed to it from the very beginning. Why have we not seen more disruption? And why have the democrats not been able to shut the money down?
PELOSI: We did see a great deal of disruption in the beginning, and when I say disruption demonstration of opposition to the war. And it was marked by its diversity, all different ages, all different ethnic groups, all different economic status turning out in opposition to the war. And, I think, that was part of the election of 2006 to change so that we could have a change in the war. But until we have a new president that won’t happen. And that, I would say, is one of my disappointments in the past 18 months is that we have not been able to stop this war.
When I when the war vote first came up I was the senior democrat on the Intelligence Committee. I was part of something called the gang of four, the top democrat and republican in the House and Senate. I read everything. We had access to everything, the intelligence that the administration had. And I said at the time, the intelligence does not support the imminent threat that this administration is claiming. People said to me, are you calling the president a liar? I said, I’m just stating a fact. The intelligence does not support the imminent threat.
I was a whip at a time and my leader was going another way in support of the war. But 60 percent of the House democrats voted against the war. As it turns out, the intelligence did not support the threat because that threat wasn’t there. So when people say we had faulty intelligence, no, the intelligence did not support the threat. This is a war based on a false premise and the administration new it. We sent our troops into war where we really didn’t know what we were getting into. Rose petals were going to great us. No, it was rocket propelled grenades, a war that they could pay for that the Iraqis could pay for and relatively soon. No, we are still paying for this war. It’s really one of the great historic blunders, I think, of all time. And it’s a tragedy but we need a new president to get us out because this president was beyond compromising on it.
LAMB: What happens if you’re elected and the democrats continue to keep the House and the Senate, and for talking purposes only Barack Obama is elected president and he sends you up a bill of $170 billion for the war. What do you do then?
PELOSI: Well, in this House we have passed five or six times funding for the war which defined the spending, which said that it limited the time. There was a time certain or sometimes it was sent as a goal because that’s what the President and the Senate would accept, a time certain or a goal of 13 months, one month, one year, whatever it is of the redeployment of our troops to begin within 30 days and be completed within a year. That any troops that were left would be only there for the purpose of fighting the terrorists, protecting our embassy and doing whatever training was necessary but a small number of troops in that regard. So it’s not about the money as long as our troops are on the ground. We have to protect them. But it’s what is the money for and we have over-and-over again sent it with terms.
And so I would expect that President Obama, that sounds great to me, would be sending this legislation to us in that spirit, something that he has voted for over and over again.
LAMB: What if the changes his mind, though? What if he
PELOSI: I don’t see that happening, but I would, myself believe that the real this war in Iraq has taken its toll in lives over 4,000 you know that. Tens of thousands injured, many thousands of them permanently. Taken a toll on our budget to a tune of probably $3 trillion. A toll in our reputation in the world to deter our ability limit our ability to fight terrorism, stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, eradicate disease, alleviate poverty to assume our true leadership role in the world.
And then if you don’t if that doesn’t matter so much to you, just think of what it does to our capability, our military capability to protect America’s interest wherever they are threatened. And this why so many hawks in the Congress on the democratic side have opposed this war without end because of what is it doing to undermine our military readiness. You see that General - Admiral Mullen Chairman of the Joint Chiefs say we need more troops in Afghanistan. But our commitment in Iraq prevents that from happening. So this is harmful to our war on terrorism. It has not made the America people safer. It has not brought stability to the region. And I will that is my position no matter who is president of the United States.
LAMB: Your book says that you were elected in 1987 first, special election, and you represent San Francisco and predominantly that whole San Francisco you missed only what a chunk of it.
PELOSI: About 75 to 80 percent of the city of San Francisco.
LAMB: On average, how big to you win?
PELOSI: I win pretty big.
LAMB: Seventy-five percent?
PELOSI: I like 80.
LAMB: The reason I’m asking
PELOSI: I like 80 percent.
LAMB: All of the polls show this institution that you are speaker of at a very low approval. I mean one of them even in the last couple of days had nine percent approval. Why do the American people so much either distrust or not like this place?
PELOSI: Well, the Congress of the United States is not an institution that has been beloved over time. I think, right now, the institution is in disfavor because we had not ended the war. Hardly any democrats approve of what Congress is doing because we haven’t ended the war. And, I think, that’s the main reason.
But I am and I myself don’t approve of Congress in terms of ending the war, so I might be among those who disapprove of Congress. But in terms of how they approve of democrats it’s overwhelming positive for us and the difference between who you trust in terms of you name it, you name any subject, the economy, healthcare, global warming, even issues that relate to Iraq, the overwhelmingly the America people support the democrats, trust the democrats and that’s why we’re going to do so well in November in the next election. I’m confident of that.
LAMB: This morning, (INAUDIBLE) July 16, this came into the office, this The Politico newspaper. And up here, it says, the price of influence 170 million. And this is all about just a microcosm of what goes on this town and it’s about Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and the amount of money that has been spent on lobbying since 1998, 170 million.
PELOSI: Is that right?
LAMB: The question I have for you, though, is how did this Congress, how did this town allow government service enterprises like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and many others, Jennie Mae, Sallie Mae, all of those, how did they let the people who ran them take as much, and in the case of Franklin Raines like $90 million out in six years; Jamie Gorelick $26 million over that period of time. How did this ever happen in this town? And isn’t that part of why people distrust this Congress?
PELOSI: Well, I can only answer for the democrats when we came in which was 18 months ago. We came in, in January. Our financial services committee organized February 1. And by April we had a bill on the floor which passed the House that said that called for the reform of the GSE’s of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, April 2007. We tried to get that reform in the stimulus package, but there was resistance to that. We passed the bill again in May of this year. And now, that’s part of the package that is going forward and hopefully by this viewing will become the law of the land.
I think that once we get past this crisis and we are in a crisis in terms of mortgage foreclosures and housing crisis that you will see the GSE subjected to great scrutiny and a change in how they do business.
LAMB: Forget the policies there for a minute, what happened to this society that, for instance, the fellow that runs Fannie Mae right now gets $3.5 million a year in salary. He’s running an institution that the Congress said for the purpose of helping people get mortgages.
PELOSI: Many years ago. Well, the I say to my colleagues all of the time or going back a number of years, it’s hard to decide whether Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were quasi government organizations, quasi governmental organizations or quasi non governmental organizations. It was thought to be a good idea to have it be a strong private sector initiative with shareholders and the rest but with the government roll in it as well.
I think we had to subject that to some scrutiny. In our bill that we’re putting forth, it says that there can be no dividends for shareholders and there has to be a review of compensation by the outside authorities to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, that’s a couple of first steps. But we just have to subject the whole formulation to harsh scrutiny and maybe come up with something else.
LAMB: This morning’s Washington Post there’s an article about Franklin Raines where he is today and what he’s doing. But there’s just a little note in there that he recently had breakfast or something what Larry Small who also used to be at Fannie Mae but then ran the Smithsonian. And he had to leave because he was discovered as getting a million dollars a year in salary. The question I have is what happened to us as a society that people that came into so called public service take it all?
PELOSI: Yes, that’s a personal decision that they make. We can’t allow that to happen. And again, now, that we have the power we can have some influence over it. And, I think, you will see real change in terms of compensation, dividends, and the rest of that. But it’s also going to have to be a different structure for these organizations because while they are private sector organizations, their exposure to risk is minimized because of because they’re government sponsored enterprise, that’s GSE.
And so what are they? This hybrid is not working out. We want it to work out to the favor of the American taxpayer, that they are the preferred shareholders and they get the first return from any of the success of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I can’t answer for Larry Small and his decisions about compensation and the rest of that. But, I can tell you in terms of GSEs, you’re going to see major change.
LAMB: Well, I mean you can back to the whole Abramoff scandal. And the other day I read in the paper where Trent Lott and John Breaux are on the side of the Northup Grumman. And your former colleague Dick Gephardt is on the side of Boeing in this lobbying attempt to get more money for these tankers. And there’s so much money involved in this, how much farther is this going to go?
PELOSI: Well, that’s why I want to have more women involved in politics. That’s why it’s important to elect Barack Obama president of the United States. That’s why I’m very proud of one of his most important pieces of legislation that is the ethics reform bill that breaks the link between lobbyist and legislation in Washington D.C.
But let me just separate the Abramoff thing out. At the time of the Abramoff scandal the Washington Post wrote that what was happening in Washington was like a criminal syndicate run out of the leader, Tom Delay’s office. We have cleaned all of that out. That we have cleaned all of that out. And I don’t think you should paint everybody with their brush. Mr. Delay is under indictment now, as you know, and many people went to jail because of the Abramoff scandal. But that was what was wrong. And that’s why it’s important to have change. You’re not going to ever have the change in policy in Washington D.C. that you want to see unless you change the way Washington works. It is a city that is wedded to the past. That is status quo city and people make a living maintaining that status quo. But we need disruption, and that disruption can only come when we have a change in power that and that’s essential. That’s essential.
LAMB: On the money note, what was your reaction when Barack Obama decided not to take the federal money for the last two months of the campaign?
PELOSI: Barack Obama’s campaign has been predicated on a small donor formula. He has broken new ground. He has become more democratic and having more openness in terms of the involvement of small donors. The idea was to break the influence of big money in politics and he did that. The only reason he was able to prevail is because so many millions of people were sending him small donors. He had large donors too but the small donors were his strength. So if he were breaking it to say I’m going to just rely on the fat cats, I would not be happy. But he’s relying on the small donors. And, I think, we have to review the we must have campaign finance reform. We must have public financing of campaign. The public isn’t quite ready for it yet. But I hope that we can when they see what has happened in the past few years and they see that their democracy is at stake that maybe they may move to that for not only the presidential but for Congress as well.
LAMB: You know on the Barack Obama thing there are plenty of big time bundlers that got into that process it’s been recorded, so it’s not just the small
PELOSI: It’s not just the small but the small are what made a difference in his race.
LAMB: Let me ask you, though, again, what was your personal reaction when he decided not to take public funds?
PELOSI: Well, realizing that the money that he would be relying on would be overwhelming from small donors I did not have a problem with it. But let me remind you that the reason we know about the bundlers is that because Barack Obama insisted in the law, the ethics reform law which is the biggest piece of ethics reform in the history of the Congress that the bundling that is done have a bright light being shown on it. Shown? Show on it so that people could see who was bringing what to the table. And that transparency is very, very wholesome. But without Barack Obama, you won’t even know who these bundlers were and what they brought to the table. So this is all a step in a direction that, I think, is in keeping with the spirit of democratic elections with a small D.
And but hopefully with a democratic president and a democratic Congress we can convince the American people that it’s their government and public financing makes it even more so. Removes the cynicism that they have towards justifiably so for what happens in Washington D.C. Here I am, speaker of the House, I consider myself an outsider. I disrupted the order of things by running because I didn’t like the I wanted to take us in a new direction.
LAMB: Would you expect Barack Obama if he became president to sponsor a piece of legislation that would (INAUDIBLE) public financing after he would want to run again. He realizes his power to raise all of this money, would he would you expect him to endorse the idea of public financing?
PELOSI: Yes. Well, I don’t know if he could sell it to the Congress. But hopefully that is what he would do. It’s going to take in order for something to pass it takes a massive effort because you have to get 60 votes in the senate. How many times, as I said, did we send legislation to end the war to the senate to have a 60 vote barricade keep us from sending something to the White House. But, I certainly would expect that he would support public financing.
LAMB: Last question. Your book is called ”Know Your Power”, what is your power as speaker?
PELOSI: The power of the Speaker is awesome, she said modestly. The power invested in the speaker, a constitutional officer. It’s the president, the vice-president, the speaker of the House. It’s recognized in the constitution and has a great deal of power in the House of Representatives the power to set the legislative agenda, the power of recognition as to who will speak or not. The power of committee assignment. The platform to speak about the issues, build consensus within the party. It has many responsibilities as well. Thomas Jefferson said that every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. So we try to have a level of civility that honors that recognizes that.
And so it is a very powerful position. And I it’s humbling. But I also respect the office that I hold. And I believe the president of the United States does too. My members certainly do.
LAMB: Speaker Nancy Pelosi, thank you very much.
PELOSI: Thank you. My pleasure to be with you.