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Public Statements

MSNBC "The Rachel Maddow Show" - Transcript

Interview

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MADDOW: Let me ask you about something that arose unexpectedly right after the election, which was the sex scandal that has ended the career that the CIA chief, David Petraeus. As you know, this arose from the FBI starting an Investigation into an unrelated matter and they came across evidence of his sexual misconduct.

At this point, there does not seem to be any evidence of anything criminal or of the mishandling of classified information. At least that we know thus far. Given that, do you think that the FBI should tell Congress and tell the White House about evidence they uncover of personal sexual misconduct by political figures? Or should that be kept private?

PELOSI: Well, I believe that the standard has to be, does this have an impact on our national security? So far, we haven`t seen anything that gives evidence of that. We have another balance that we have to strike, our Founders had to do
it, the beginning of our country, and we still do, except now with communication the way it is in a different way. And that`s a balance between security and liberty.

And so how do you make that balance? Should Congress and the president be informed of hearsay? I don`t think so. What is triggered about informing the Congress in any event, just talking about Congress, is -- does it have an impact on our national security?

MADDOW: And you think this did not rise to that level?

PELOSI: From what we know so far.

But it`s really also important to note that our Founders had to do this, and that was at a time when a message could travel only as fast as a horse could gallop or ship could sail. That`s how fast or slow a message could travel.

Now, with the blessing of telecommunication, we know in real time, true or false, about what somebody might be saying about somebody else and I think that we, in the interest of everyone in our country, have to respect privacy rights unless it falls into a realm of something of a person of that stature. I mean, that`s such a sad thing -- such a sad thing. And personal indiscretion is unfortunate. But to have a personal discretion e-mails is stupid.

MADDOW: To have this scandal touch on General John Allen, who`s commanding general in Afghanistan, today was the confirmation hearing for the man who would be his successor, General Dunford, in Afghanistan. That sex scandal, personal behavior scandal is unrelated to the war. But the fact these things are all happening at once raises for me, once again, the strangeness of the fact that we have so little political debate about our ongoing war. In terms of the realm of political responsibility and what is doable after this election, I have to ask you -- why Congress shouldn`t be expected now to push for a faster end to the Afghanistan war than the end of two years from now?

PELOSI: Well, it isn`t two years. It`s just one year from now.

MADDOW: End of 2014, right?

PELOSI: `14 -- well, I guess almost two years. Let`s hope it`s before then. Let`s hope it`s by then but let`s hope it is before then. What is our mission? How is it in our national security to stay a long time?

What I think we have to be vigilant about is we`re not staying any longer. I know there have been some comments about -- well, we may keep a force. I don`t think there`s any appetite for that.

MADDOW: General Dunford said he`d be willing to keep a force beyond 2014.

PELOSI: I`m interested in what the president of the United States has said, is that we will be out by the end of 2014. But it is unpopular. The country is weary of war. They want our troops to come home, and they are coming home.
But I don`t know if there`s a majority in the vote in Congress to bring the troops home in a faster schedule than the president has. And remember, the president said by 2014. So, hopefully, it will be sooner.

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MADDOW: There was a bit of a firestorm in the last 24 hours when number of news organizations reported on Mitt Romney`s comments to donors in a call yesterday explaining why it is that he thought he lost. And he attributed his lost to Democratic policies that he described as gifts to specific populations -- to young people, to students, to Latino voters. He described as a gift the way he put it, amnesty for the children of illegals and that was a gift to Latinos and that was essentially a Democratic bribe to earn those votes. That`s Mr. Romney`s assessment of why he lost.

PELOSI: Well, that`s sad. That`s really quite sad. It doesn`t sound very professional about who he was as a candidate and what his organization might have been in spite of all the money they had. But it was completely consistent with his message when he didn`t know he was being recorded about the 47 percent.

I have said for a long time, since we saw that tape, that`s the most authentic Romney we have seen. Every other instance, before for this, and then against it, and now, you know, different. What does he really believe in? But that he really believed in.

When you watch that tape, that videotape -- you see passion, you see commitment. That`s the -- that is the most sincere, with no competition for that honor, most sincere moment in his campaign. That`s what he believed and that`s what he continues to believe and that`s what he said yesterday. But that`s quite sad.

MADDOW: If that is, we are seeing some Republican dissent, Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, criticized him. Kelly Ayotte, the senator from New Hampshire, criticized those remarks. It`s not been greeted warmly, these remarks from him, just as the 47 percent remarks weren`t.

But if that ends up being the conservative assessment of what went wrong, and it is absolutely the take in conservative media and in conservative talk radio -- what does that say about what`s politically possible next?

I just think about the prospect of John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi working together. I think about you sitting down with Vice President Biden and President Obama and John Boehner and talking about what`s possible. What do you expect about the Republican world view and goals to change because of this election?

PELOSI: Well, the president was very clear in the campaign, on where he stood. There was no ambiguity about where he was on many of the issues. And so, his election, I think, strengthens our hand at the table. But the public still has to continue to be engaged. Public sentiment is everything.

And in the past, for example, the Republicans in the House were the odd people out on the -- on some of the tax bill. One of the tax -- you know, deduction, and then also on the transportation bill. And so when the president went public on those, then they finally came around. But they`re not going to come around just by persuasion sitting across the table, I do not believe.

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MADDOW: At your leadership announcement yesterday, you were asked -- well, there was a strong reaction and a very strong response from you to a question about age, about the prospect of stepping aside so younger leadership could take over in the Democratic Party. Why did all of the Democratic women on stage with you boo that question? And why did you call it an offensive question?
PELOSI: Well, I don`t -- the point is that I was surprised at the reaction of my colleagues because I hear these questions all the time from the press. Not that one, but questions that they might consider inappropriate.

But here`s the thing -- I didn`t say it was inappropriate. I said it`s only appropriate if you`re asking everybody else. Senator McConnell hasn`t won an election in a while, and nobody`s asking him to step aside. And I said, do you want the whole leadership to step aside?But it`s interesting because when something like that happens, remind them that President Reagan was elected at 69 and left at 77 from the White House. Sam Rayburn was like 79 years old when he ended being speaker. We, on the strength of the success we had in the election, we won 25 seats. We didn`t net 25 seats, and so -- but we elected -- 25 percent of our caucus is new, younger, women and minorities, 50 percent of our caucus, women and minorities and LGBT community folks.

So, you know, we thought it was a great night -- the election of the president to protect health care and the rest, increase our numbers in the Senate, increase our numbers in the House. So I didn`t really know what the point was unless it -- was it about winning? Was it about not winning enough seats or was it just about age?

And that --

MADDOW: And a combination of age and gender. You`re saying. That it`s a different --

PELOSI: No, that was the point. Right.

It was -- and I -- you know, we all live with each other around here, no offense taken except the women took great offense. And I made the point that one of my goals was to bring women in younger so they could start getting seniority sooner. Not to wait as I did until my children were practically in college, all in college. One, Alexandra just in high school. That was my choice, that is my love, that was my happiness, the most important thing I`ll ever do. But if women have an opportunity earlier, they do get the seniority sooner. So, I think I should be granted about a dozen to 14 years for raising my family and having not great (ph) qualification to bring to the table.

MADDOW: You talked about the diversity of this Democratic Caucus.

PELOSI: Oh, let me just say --

MADDOW: Sure.

PELOSI: Ronald Reagan said, as he said to Walter Mondale, I will not hold your youth and inexperience against you.

(LAUGHTER)

MADDOW: I will pass that onto Luke.

You are talking about the diversity about the Democratic Caucus in which you lead in the House. It is a new thing at least that there is not a straight, white male majority in this caucus. That has never been true before in this country.
And I wonder, you know, the Republican Party, the Republican candidate for president won a majority of the white vote, a larger proportion of the white vote than John McCain did in 2008, which the Republican Party were sort of bragging about in their internal assessment today about what went right for them in this election that they lost. The Republicans lost all minority groups by very, very large margins. When you look at the diversity of your group, and that momentous change reflected in that diversity, what do you say to people who are unsettled by that, who look at that change and think I`m not sure I`m happy about the fact that there isn`t a straight, white male majority in the
Democratic Caucus anymore? What do you say to them?

PELOSI: I haven`t met anybody like that yet. But let`s say that there is somebody who has some unease about women and minorities and LGBT people, I would say, everybody is talking about how we can appeal to these people to vote for us and we are saying, no, we want to go beyond that. We want them to represent us.

So, it`s not about we need your vote. This is an Election Day alliance. We want you to have a seat at the table, because it`s really important to have the diversity of opinion. It`s not that we want to displace the white males in our caucus. It`s that we want to have a mix.

There is something important about having other thinking, whether it`s gender, whether it`s ethnic, whether it`s regional, whether it`s generational to have a mixture of thinking at the table. It makes the product better, but it gives people hope outside to say, there is something there who understands my aspirations, my challenge.

And, again, I reiterate -- we have diversity of opinion one in our caucus too and we respect that and we rejoice in that at well, across the spectrum. And I say to my male friends, your views are enhanced because you can convince many more people who can reach out to other people about your position.

MADDOW: In the sense, you`re not just talking to people who are inclined from the get-go to get -- to agree with you. You have to persuade others who come from a different perspective.

PELOSI: Come in with perspective. And when you bring that caucus together and they build consensus -- I mean, I`ve never lost a vote when I was speaker and that was because we built consensus. We percolated up. We didn`t write something and say this is what we are going to vote for, percolated up. So, I would not want to be a head of a caucus that was a rubber stamp for anything.

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