U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke about a variety of issues in an interview aired Monday, calling Obamacare “beautiful”, characterizing Republicans as being a “triple threat,” and bragging that she’s one of Washington’s “biggest fundraisers.”
The interview, with Vox.com’s Ezra Klein, spanned Obamacare, money in politics, the so-called gender wage gap, Benghazi, the controversy over the Washington Redskins team name, slavery reparations, and the recent VA scandal.
Republicans are “anti-governance, they’re anti-science, they’re anti-Obama,” said Pelosi, when asked why the political landscape “seems rough” for Democrats going into the mid-term elections.
“They’re a triple threat,” Pelosi said of the GOP. “They have a trifecta going.”
“Everything is to obstruct the president. Anything that is evidence-based is unimportant to them,” said Pelosi, adding that the GOP considered the shutting down of the federal government last year “a victory.”
Pelosi said she believes the outlook for Democrats, who may lose control of the U.S. Senate, will improve within a “month or so.”
“One evidence of governance would be how we rolled out the Affordable Care Act,” she said. “It is intact; it’s beautiful.”
“As with everything, it’s a work in progress. We need to improve it, but the website didn’t work, and now it’s well.”
That success, said Pelosi, has forced Republicans to focus on other issues, such as Benghazi.
“They’re going to come back to Benghazi because the Affordable Care Act has lost some of its weight in terms of being a political issue for them.”
Asked about how she and other Democrats navigate the tension between pushing for campaign finance reform while fundraising heavily themselves, Pelosi repeated her proposal to amend the Constitution, while admitting her own fundraising prowess.
“The only way we can fight it and win it in order to change the law, and even maybe have a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, is to raise money to do it,” Pelosi said, adding, “question is, what money is that?”
“The money I raise, I’m probably right up there with the biggest fundraisers in the country,” she said. “I know about raising money.”
Raising large sums of money is needed to battle Republicans. The two parties differ in that Republican donors are self-interested, while Democratic donors are motivated more by public interest, Pelosi said.
“It’s a very idealistic group of people from around the country who really do want to see the role of money reduced in politics,” said Pelosi.
“But surely some of them want something?” Klein pushed.
“I think maybe some of those people give to both sides,” Pelosi responded, adding that “probably not 10 percent” of money Democrats raise comes from the Washington lobbyist community.
“Our small donor base is huge,” said Pelosi.
Pelosi raised $35 million on behalf of the Democratic party last year. And while Democrats indeed outpace Republicans in terms of small donors, Pelosi’s campaigns are not funded by the little guy.
According to data gathered by the Sunlight Foundation, which tracks political spending, Pelosi ranked first in Congress in 2012 in terms of the percentage of political donations from the top 1 percent of income earners.
Just over 4.8 percent of her campaign money came from small donors, while 40.4 percent came from the top 1 percent, according to the Sunlight Foundation.
Pelosi broached other topics in the 26-minute interview.
Asked by Klein about a recent article from The Atlantic that proposed reparations to blacks for slavery as well as legislation proposed by Michigan Rep. John Conyers, Pelosi declined to support reparations but did suggest that the discussion needs to be debated on the House floor.
“I think the purpose of… Mr. Conyers’ bill, is one that wants to provoke the discussion,” she said. “A good deal of discussion has to be had before something can be brought to the [House] floor.”
Conyers’ numerous reparations bills have never reached the House floor for debate.
Asked about the current VA scandal, Pelosi said ”Democrats have real standing on this issue.”
Pelosi also expressed support of a letter 49 U.S. senators sent last week asking the Washington Redskins to change their name, which they believe is offensive.