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MSNBC "The Rachel Maddow Show" - Transcript

Interview

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MADDOW: One of the things we saw this year, even in a year when it did not come down to a recount in Florida or anything like that, we did see seven and eight-hour long lines in some places. We saw enormously contested rules, some say, partisan-contested rules around early voting and the availability of voting machines, how long it was going to take people to vote.

Is there -- as you have championed the idea of reforming the role of money in politics -- is there also sort of energy right now for the idea of election reform -- there being federal standards, federal advancement for the states to get their acts together?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: As you know, the electoral system is a state function. But in a federal election, we should be able to pass legislation that said that people should be able to vote in one hour or two hours, and the rest of these long lines are an obstacle. They are a form of voter suppression.

So, whether it`s money suffocating the air out of the air waves with endless money, whether it`s suppressing the vote through some regulation or state laws, or it is just telling people that this is poisoning the debate so that people throw up my hands, I don`t want to vote. All of it is really an obstacle to full participation.

So, I do believe and that is why I`m pursuing this and colleagues, that there should be a national law for federal elections that says that people should be able to vote in a reasonable amount of time, that these long lines are designed to suppress the vote.

MADDOW: Is that -- one of the things I have been trying to understand since the election is what in Congress is now politically doable that wasn`t politically doable before? And some of the ideas are the same, but the prospects of passage seem different now that we have gone through this election process. Would you put election reform in the realm of politically doable? And what else do you think has crossed over the line because of the election results?

PELOSI: Well, the electoral reform will be, I`d always say, that the president really can do (ph), public sentiment is everything. And I think the public sentiment is there for saying enough already with all the money and all the commercials and the length of time these campaigns take place so we can exploit that opportunity to make change. It`s a great organizing tool Throughout the country -- not even in a political, partisan way, but in a democratic way.

And I think that sufficient activism -- as I always say -- don`t agonize, organize. Sufficient activism on the outside, mobilization there helps us maneuver to get something done in that regard. I would certainly hope that the budget issues would -- that that has changed with the election. The president was clear about the wealthy paying their fair share in the election. The public supports that overwhelmingly in all the polls. Even if they didn`t vote for President Obama, they support the wealthy paying their fair share. So, hopefully, the need and the ability of Republicans to vote for that has been improved, all of it. I don`t know -- well, it remains to be seen.

The president says he`s going to send immigration. I would certainly hope that the participation of so many people in the electoral process sends a clear message that we have to think in a different way about the value of immigration to our country and not in the way that it has been presented by those who oppose comprehensive immigration reform, just to name a few.

MADDOW: When you look ahead to the next Congress, the rights of the minority in the House are one (ph), compared with the rights of the majority in the House.

PELOSI: Yes.

MADDOW: But you saw a decision to make about how your caucus and how you personally are going to work with John Boehner and his caucus in the House. Do you see it as working out any differently in the next Congress than it did in this last one?

PELOSI: Well, it just depends on what level of cooperation and respect is extended to the president of the United States. When I was speaker and President Bush was president, we worked together. We passed an energy bill. We passed a tax rebate bill that was refundable to poor people. As minority and in the minority, I worked with him for the biggest global AIDS initiative ever. So we were able to do things working together. More than that even, TARP -- more so we probably ever have to take.

So the idea that a Congress would come in and say to the president, never does never work for you, even when he was extending the hand of friendship to say, how can we work together, to the Republicans for their priorities, it was something quite different than any of us had ever seen before.

But, sure, I mean, I worked with President Bush. I stand always ready to work in a bipartisan fashion here. That`s what we came here to do. The last two years is a different phenomenon.

As much as people like to think, it`s been going on for a long time. It reared its head in the `90s when Republicans impeached President Clinton, we did impeach President Clinton, but we offered cooperation to a Republican president. I hope they will offer cooperation to President Obama.

We stand ready to work in a bipartisan way with Speaker Boehner, with the Republicans in Congress. We have regional concerns that are not partisan. We have issues of human rights in the world that are not partisan, where we have come together in a bipartisan way, and sometimes in disagreement with our own leadership or our own White House in the past. So I think the American people expect and deserve a bipartisanship to take place. Let`s hope that it`s there because then we`ll get our most sustainable solutions. We come here to find common ground. If we can`t find it, we have to stand our ground. But we have a responsibility to try.

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