At a trendy bar in Northwest D.C., packed with thirsty interns looking for a free drink, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi submitted for nearly an hour of questioning from the Washington, D.C., bureau chief of BuzzFeed Politics, Roll Call alumnus John Stanton.
The California Democrat’s “BuzzFeed Brews” interview ran the gamut from her upbringing in Baltimore to a possible change to the controversial name of the local football team; from the government shutdown to the rollout of Obamacare.
218 was in attendance at Jack Rose on Tuesday night, and below are the highlights from the free-wheeling conversation between Pelosi and BuzzFeed.
1. On recent revelations that Freshman GOP Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., was recently arrested for possession of cocaine:
“I feel very sad for his family, and bad,” Pelosi said.
As for what his next steps should be given his misconduct, “his leadership will have to deal with him,” she said.
Pelosi also pointed out the timing in relation to the recent GOP-passed farm bill. His allegations of drug possession, she said, came “right soon on the heels of the Republicans voting to make sure that everybody who had access to food stamps was drug tested. It’s like, ‘what?’ And so I would hope it would humanize, shall I say, their thinking.”
2. On growing up in a political family in Baltimore and to a father who was at one time the mayor of the city:
“What I learned in Baltimore that has served me so well is how to count. How to count votes, how to count on people and the rest. And what you also learn is tomorrow is another day,” said Pelosi. “Today is one vote, you may not be happy on how someone voted on a particular issue, but there’s another vote coming up, and every day is a fresh one.”
“We actually build consensus in our caucus,” she continued, “and that’s how we determine our position, and actually more the peer pressure of people saying, ‘this is what we decided, this is how we go forward,’ and that’s part of what I learned in Baltimore.”
3. Pelosi’s ability to count votes, and build consensus, was on display during the government shutdown, and she has consistently drawn distinctions between her caucus’s party unity and the Republican’s frequent lack of cohesion:
“I promised the speaker, ‘you keep government open, we will give you 100 percent of the Democrats to vote for that number, which we don’t like, but which is your House Republican budget number,’” she pointed out. “The only people who did not support the House Republican budget number were the House Republican members.”
4. On GOP criticisms of the implementation of the 2010 health care law, which she helped pass during her tenure as House speaker — specifically, the broken promise of “if you like it, you can keep it”:
“Yes, the messaging could have been better,” Pelosi said. “No, it won’t hurt us in 2014.”
5. On the rollout of HealthCare.gov, which has been riddled with glitches:
“You can imagine, coming from California, what I think of that!” she said.
6. On calling it Obamacare versus the Affordable Care Act:
“Not everybody loves Obama, but everybody loves ‘affordable,’” she said. “I love them both!”
7. Would she work well with a President Chris Christie in 2016, referring to the Republican governor from New Jersey?
“I am suspecting that we’ll probably be working with President [Hillary Rodham] Clinton,” Pelosi shot back.
8. What role did redistricting and gerrymandering play in the last election cycle, when Democrats failed to take back the House from GOP control?
“I think the press has placed too much emphasis on that,” she said. “We lost that election hundreds of millions of special interest money poured in the last week of the election. Yeah, redistricting wasn’t helpful, but what I think we have to do, and I promise you this, I promise you this: You want more women in politics, more minorities, more young people? You reduce the role of money in politics and increase the level of civility.”
9. Pelosi has gone on record as favoring a name change to the Washington Redskins football team, as more and more critics call attention to the moniker. But what would Pelosi suggest as an alternative name?
Pelosi said “Hail to the Redskins” was the first song she learned how to sing outside of church, and she sang the opening line. She then suggested a contest be held for a new name. “I don’t know if there’s any will to change the name,” she conceded, “but maybe a good enough name? You never know.”
Matt Fuller contributed to this report.