In an interview with ABC’s Bill Weir yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked what was going through her mind earlier this month when she seemed to recoil when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid put his arm around her at a news conference following a White House meeting.
The moment -- which prompted a fresh round of speculation about Pelosi-Reid tensions -- had nothing to do with her relationship with Reid, Pelosi said. Pelosi, D-Calif., praised Reid as a “great leader in the United States Senate.” But she said she didn’t much care for his statement that “whatever decision you make [on Afghanistan], we’ll support it, basically.”
“I was more reacting to what he was saying than his arm on my shoulder,” Pelosi said. “He was saying that we were all going to support whatever the president said about troops to Afghanistan, and which, well, remains to be seen until we see what the president puts forth. We certainly respect the deliberative process the president is going through. I'll know how serious the decision is.”
“But until we see what it is I would reserve the right to make a decision about support. So my reaction was more related to that,” she said. “But, no, a colleague putting an arm on a shoulder, no, it's -- more was made of that. And perhaps I -- you know, again, he was saying something and doing that at the same time. I was more reacting to what he was saying.”
Portions of Weir’s interview will air as part of a profile of Speaker Pelosi on Saturday’s “Good Morning America.”
Pelosi also credits a bill by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., as inspiration for the version of the public option (she’s now calling it the “consumer’s option”) included in the bill she unveiled this week -- even though it doesn’t go as far as many liberals in her caucus wanted.
“That is the proposal that … Senator Kennedy advanced in his bill that he wrote before he left us,” Pelosi said. “So, we had a robust public option and a relatively robust public option. Either one would keep the insurance companies honest through competition.”
Some other interesting tidbits:
On how being a mother of five impacts her work in Congress: “I view my work in politics and government as an extension of my role as a mom.”
On what she thinks when she’s called a “San Francisco liberal”: “I take it as a compliment in every respect. When I was sworn in as speaker, I said that, ‘I came here proudly as a representative thanking San Francisco and the Congress that Saint Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of our city. His song of Saint Francis is our anthem. ‘Make me a channel of thy peace. Where there is darkness, may I bring light. Despair -- hope. Hatred -- love.’ And that is -- those are the San Francisco values that I as a progressive Democrat bring to the Congress of the United States.”