Is Nancy Pelosi a Lightning Rod?

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," May 30, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you think he's done as speaker and whether he's represented the whole House well?

REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF., MINORITY LEADER: My answer is that I suggest a new House principles of Congress for all Americans. Mr. Speaker — the speaker and I are friends. I congratulate him on his longevity.


JOHN GIBSON, HOST: That was minority leader Nancy Pelosi commenting on House Speaker Dennis Hastert. She will probably take his job if the Democrats do well this November. So why are Republicans so happy about this possibility? And should they be?

Let's ask GOP strategist, former Republican National Committee spokeswoman and today birthday girl, Genevieve Wood. Happy birthday, Genevieve. And Democratic strategist and former Howard Dean campaign media consultant Steve McMahon. So Genevieve, why would you be happy about Nancy Pelosi being the frontrunner to be the speaker if Steve's side wins?

GENEVIEVE WOOD, FORMER RNC SPOKESWOMAN: Well let's be clear, I'd be much happier if a Republican was speaker of the House. But John, I think, who better than Nancy Pelosi to encapsulate for the American public what the Democratic Party truly stands for. I mean, if you want an advocate for higher taxes, San Francisco-style cultural values, then Nancy Pelosi is your gal and the Democrats are your party.

I don't think that's mainstream America. I think if people did go that direction, I think after about two years, they would say that was a wrong turn. Let's come back to Republicans.

GIBSON: Steve, is that an ouch?

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, not really. I mean, coming from a birthday girl, perhaps, but not coming from a partisan like Genevieve who is actually quite effective for her party.

I think the question is really a simple one. If you're happy with the direction the country is going, vote Republicans. If you think things in Iraq are going pretty well and a rubber-stamp Congress is a way to make them get them better, then vote Republican. If you're happy with gas prices and the cost of health care, vote Republican. But if you want to go in a different direction, if you want to change some of those things, then vote Democratic and see what Nancy Pelosi and perhaps a new majority leader in the United States Senate can do. And two years from now, maybe even a new president.

GIBSON: OK Genevieve, let's assume that people aren't exactly happy right now with the way things are going. So what is the world that Nancy Pelosi will create for them?

WOOD: Well I think a Nancy Pelosi would do what I — higher taxes. I mean, anybody who watched Nancy Pelosi just a couple weeks ago on another network on "Meet the Press," could see that she absolutely had no plan. I mean, Tim Russert kept pressing her, "What would you do differently in Iraq? Would you do when it comes to the economy?" I don't know if they made it around to health. Nancy Pelosi had no ideas or if she did, she wasn't willing to share them. And I think that's been the problem frankly for Democrats for the past three or four years.

Look, Republican numbers are not good right now, I'll admit that. Democrats ought to be soaring right now, based on our poll numbers and they're not. And I think it's yes, while the public is not happy with $3 gas they know what Democrats will bring and they know they don't want to go that direction.

GIBSON: Steve, why isn't Pelosi specific? I mean, the only — in the interview Genevieve was referring to with Tim Russert, the only thing she got specific about is we will have subpoena power and we will start investigating the Bush administration.

MCMAHON: John, that's not quite true. I don't know if you watched the entire interview, but she was pretty specific about an energy plan. She was specific about Democratic plans to bring down the price of health care.

Look, the Republicans have controlled the White House and both houses of Congress for a long, long time now. And one of the things that you see is the Democratic agenda can't get brought to a vote.

If the Democrats wanted to bring the troops home tomorrow, they couldn't get a vote to do it. If they wanted to get the CEOs of the energy companies back to explain why gas prices continue to go up, they can't get the authority to do it because the Republicans won't let them. If they want to pass ethics reform, the Republicans won't let them have a vote. So basically you have a log jam in Congress, you've got a rubber stamp for the president, things are not going well economically or in Iraq, and it's their fault.

GIBSON: Hey Genevieve, according to Steve, it's your fault.

WOOD: Steve, I'll tell you what. Hold a press conference tomorrow — maybe not you, but Nancy Pelosi and all of her friends up there and lay out the agenda that you just talked about. Why are they scared to say what they would do once they were put into power? I think it's because they know if they really say what they want to do and play to the Democratic base, most of America isn't going to vote for it and they know that. So they can't say it, so they're kind of dodging what they would actually do. There's no clear plan.

GIBSON: Hey sorry, Steve, but Genevieve got the last word. Steve McMahon, Genevieve Wood, thank you both. Appreciate it, Genevieve, happy birthday.

MCMAHON: Happy birthday, Genevieve.

WOOD: Thank you.

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