House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who saw her powerful position taken from her in Tuesday’s landslide election, was adamant the day after Democrats lost 60 seats in the House that the results were not a rejection of the agenda pursued by President Obama and herself.
“Let’s understand the message,” Pelosi told ABC’s Diane Sawyer. “The message was not, ‘I reject the course that you are on.’ The message is it didn’t go fast enough to produce jobs.”
Pelosi, who would not comment on whether she will retire from Congress rather than go back to the minority, also predicted that Obama will be a two-term president.
“I believe that Barack Obama will serve eight years as President of the United States,” Pelosi said, citing the “investments that he’s made.”
“Some of them are longer term, because he thinks in a statesman-like way, and that’s why they didn’t get the full impact now.”
Pelosi’s first interview after losing power came just a few hours after Obama fielded questions from reporters at the White House. And though the president was fairly clear that he does not intend to change the direction of his policies, Pelosi was much more free in expressing how Democrats feel about passing legislation like the health care overhaul that cost them politically but created a “framework” for long-term structural change to a sector that comprises one-fifth of the economy.
Pelosi described her two phone conversations with Obama on Tuesday, before election results were in and then afterward.
“We expressed pride in the work that we had done, sadness over the loss of the members who would not be returning. But again, no regrets about the health care for all Americans, consumer protections of an historic nature, Wall Street reform, the list goes on,” Pelosi said.
“As to the agenda that we’ve put forth, progress wasn’t fast enough. And that’s really what the challenge is,” she said.
“No regrets. Because we believe we did the right thing,” Pelosi said. “I feel very at peace with how things have proceeded.”
She also blamed money from outside conservative groups for tipping the scales toward a GOP House takeover.
“I always believe that there was a way that we could win if some of these very close races fell our way. And they were falling our way: $100 million approximately of outside money weighed in those races, and changed the atmosphere in the last couple of weeks.”
Pelosi, who in 2007 became the first woman Speaker of the House in history, insisted she felt no personal disappointment about losing the Speaker’s gavel.
“It’s sad in terms of my colleagues who won’t be coming back. For me, I’m a professional,” she said. “Being the first woman Speaker and breaking the marble ceiling is pretty important. But I think the contribution is the legislation that we have passed for all of America’s children.”