WASHINGTON – Days after her party lost congressional seats and the White House race, California Rep. Nancy Pelosi (search) struck a conciliatory tone, saying House Democrats "stand ready to work with" President Bush in his second term.
The message from the House minority leader, speaking Saturday in the weekly Democratic radio address, was in stark contrast to the pre-election combativeness of late September when she used the same forum to call Bush's Iraq war a "grotesque mistake."
Now in the immediate aftermath of a bitterly fought election, Pelosi summoned Republican cooperation on initiatives she said both parties should support — better jobs, health care and education.
She called for "more discourse and less discord" in the Congress but still pledged to not budge on issues where the two parties diverge.
"There are places where we differ, as well, and Democrats will stand our ground," Pelosi said.
Tuesday's election resulted in Republican gains of four seats in the Senate and at least three in the House.
Pelosi cited Bush's agenda for reforming Social Security (search) — which includes giving younger workers the option of putting part of their payroll tax into personal retirement accounts — as a privatization plan that would end up cutting benefits for seniors and the disabled.
Describing the country as one divided along partisan lines, Pelosi said the split, "rather than being an excuse for inaction, must be a call to compromise and common sense. ... I hope that in this term President Bush will fulfill his renewed promise to be a uniter, not a divider. A new term is indeed a new opportunity to bring America together. House Democrats stand ready to work with the president."