Did Nancy Pelosi Fail Leadership 101? Rep. Sestak Defends Speaker's Handling of Bailout Bill

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," September 30, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF., SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: For too long, this government — eight years — has followed a right-wing ideology of anything goes, no supervision, no discipline, no regulation.

Again, all of us are believers in free markets, but we have to do it right.


NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, did that infamous political pitch help ditch a done deal? We'll probably never know for sure, but a lot of Republicans say they do know that had Speaker Nancy Pelosi not uttered those commons before yesterday's big vote, she might have gotten a very different result.

Democratic Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Sestak, disagrees.

Congressman, that's become the speech that will live in infamy, that she botched it. Did she?

REP. JOE SESTAK, D-PA.: No, absolutely not. I mean, think about this: The most consequential vote many representatives said was about to be cast. That these men who said this because of a little jibe or something would actually cast a vote that's not in the interest of their nation?

No, I think these men either don't deserve to be representatives of their district, or, wow, I'm not sure they're men. And so, I hate to be...

CAVUTO: All right. Well, what do you say...

SESTAK: I think this just a...


CAVUTO: Congressman, now, come on. What do you say about the 95 Democrats who — who didn't support it?

SESTAK: Ah, now that's a totally different question. There were divided on both sides people who voted for it or against it. I voted for it. I think this was the right thing to do.

But there was two reasons why people did not vote for this. One was because there was a difference of true opinion. There were those on one side who believe that any intervention into the marketplace is against the rules of — of nature. And then there were those on both sides that felt there needed to be more time to look at this.

But, without any question, as Mr. Boehner said very eloquently, there was political risk for those — look, I get 200 calls or e-mails a day against this bill, only one for the first day, and give for the first five days for this bill. So, there's political risk.


CAVUTO: I understand the pressure both sides are under. But you know more about decorum and form in Congress than I ever will. But there's an understanding, I guess, ahead of a vote, when you talk about bipartisanship and you have a joint press conference with the leaders of both parties talking about how they hammered out an accord, then you take to the floor of the House before the first vote has been cast to diss the opposition, that might all be well and good, and you could do that after the vote's taken, but that she kind of failed Leadership 101. For a majority or minority, you just don't do that. It's just not done.

SESTAK: You know, one might argue if that should have been said at that time or not, but to the point — I mean, really to the point...


SESTAK: ... talking over something that really made a difference...


CAVUTO: Congressman, you know what, I know you — I know you, and you would never have done that. You would never have done that. You are a pragmatic, rational individual. That was an irrational, stupid thing to do.

You would never have done it.

SESTAK: But when you have called me pragmatic, I have to retort, Neil, and say, do you really believe these men actually changed their vote because of it? So I'm asking you, pragmatically, do you really think it made a difference? I don't think...


CAVUTO: Do you believe the — do you believe that all 95 Democrats who voted against this did so completely out of, you know, self-awareness on this issue and not other motivations?

SESTAK: Yes, in other words, political risk.

No. I think, as Mr. Boehner said, that there was going to be political risk...


CAVUTO: All right. So you're not telling me that Democrats are saints and Republicans are sinners, are you?

SESTAK: Not at all. What I'm saying is this: This was the most bipartisan effort in the two years I have been in Congress I have yet to see. As a matter of fact, that was said on the floor also, from both sides. There was more hours spent in open collaboration — although in a shortened time period — than any other bill I have seen.

CAVUTO: And then your speaker botched it by making it very partisan.

SESTAK: There is not a question that we have the watch of this economic ship of state because we are the majority party.

CAVUTO: Right.

SESTAK: But I think that the crew is being disingenuous — at best — to say, wait a minute. Somebody said something and we could not support the captain?

CAVUTO: All right.

SESTAK: No, we went into this with an understanding that the Republicans had 100 votes and we had 130. We produced 145. They produced 65.

CAVUTO: All right. Thank you, Congressman.

SESTAK: We can get this later this week in a bipartisan way.

Thanks, Neil.

CAVUTO: We shall see.


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