Republicans are trying to keep the spotlight on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for accusing the CIA of lying to Congress, saying her poll numbers show she's out of step with voters and suggesting she step out of intelligence briefings since she doesn't trust the source.
A new Gallup poll out Friday showed Pelosi's favorability ratings are lower than that of former Vice President Dick Cheney, a popular target for Bush administration critics.
According to the poll of 1,015 national adults conducted May 29-31, 37 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Cheney and 34 percent have a favorable view of Pelosi. The margin of error is 3 percent.
Pelosi's current image rates 50 percent unfavorable, an increase from six months ago, while Cheney's unfavorability has dropped from 63 percent six months ago to 54 percent now. Independent and Republican voters are primarily responsible for Cheney's improvement and Pelosi's decline.
Sixty-two percent of Democrats view Pelosi favorably, down just slightly from 66 percent in November while Cheney's popularity among Republicans grew from 62 percent to 70 percent.
Republicans immediately jumped on the new figures.
"The numbers are in and they couldn't be any clearer; Nancy Pelosi has officially become a political liability for Democrats running for reelection across the country. Whether she is accusing the CIA of a crime, tolerating corruption within the highest ranks of her party, or advocating for reckless economic policies, the fact is the San Francisco speaker is out of step with voters and dragging down her party." said Ken Spain, communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Pelosi and Cheney have been at the forefront of the debate on enhanced interrogation techniques, with Cheney defending the use of some tactics that Republican members of the congressional intelligence committees say helped lead to information that disrupted terrorist plots.
Democrats have chastised any discussion of the content of classified briefings, but in a testy exchange on the House floor Thursday evening, House Minority Leader Eric Cantor and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer exchanged vigorous blows about why Pelosi continues to receive intelligence briefings when she distrusts the information given to her.
Cantor, R-Va., suggested a Democratic stand-in be put in Pelosi's place.
"What has changed in the speaker's mind to continue to receive these briefings when she has said there are untruths?" Cantor asked.
Hoyer told Cantor he saw no reason for a stand-in and repeatedly told Cantor, "I have difficulty following the gentleman's reasoning." He later said Cantor's understanding of what should happen is "perverse" and called the discussion unfruitful.