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CROWLEY: Madam Leader, thank you for joining us.
PELOSI: My pleasure.
CROWLEY: You and your fellow Democrats have spent the week taunting Republicans, saying, come on back, come on, get to work, why are we in recess? The question is, if they were at work, what would they be working on?
PELOSI: What we want them to come back to do is to get to work to pass the payroll tax cut for 160 million Americans, extend unemployment benefits for millions of Americans who are out of work through no fault of their own, and also to pass the legislation that guarantees seniors the ability to see their doctors under Medicare.
This is what they passed for two months in December under great duress. We want to get rolling with that. We want the committee, the Conference Committee, to come -- they kept asking, appoint conferees, appoint conferees. Well, we appointed conferees, let's call them together to meet.
CROWLEY: They have until the end of February to do this. You know Congress always works up to its deadline. It is just the nature of the beast. The Senate isn't in. So why doesn't this look sort of like an election year stunt?
PELOSI: Republicans keep telling us that we're not in recess. They say to the president, we're not in recess, you can't make a recess appointment, we are in session. But yet when we went to the floor, the very distinguished gentleman, our assistant leader, Mr. Clyburn, from South Carolina, was gaveled down the minute he started to speak after the pledge to the flag.
CROWLEY: Don't you think people looking at this will go, you know what, these people -- and I don't mean Democrats, I mean Congress, are playing games again, they're gaveling each other down, they're taunting each other about why they're not in session, that this is what people hate so much about Congress, it looks like games?
PELOSI: I don't think they hate us calling people back to work. I think that they wonder why we're not at work. Here the American people, many of them are out of work, others are uncertain about their jobs, they want to work, and we're taking a month off in January? I think that's what aggravates -- it certainly aggravates me.
CROWLEY: You brought up the president and I wanted to play something for our audience and for you. The president, just talking about his relationship with Congress. This was probably something you heard. He was in Ohio the other day.
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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When Congress refuses to act, and as a result, hurts our economy and puts our people at risk, then I have an obligation as president to do what I can without them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Are you totally comfortable as a former speaker and now the head of the Democrats, majority (ph) leader of the Democrats, with the president running against Congress?
CROWLEY: Because that's you.
PELOSI: It's not me. It's the Republican majority in the House of Representatives.
CROWLEY: He doesn't always make that distinction.
PELOSI: He doesn't always.
CROWLEY: He does say at times, well, there is -- you know, the Democrats are working against the Republicans, but, I mean, he doesn't always make that distinction. And he -- I wanted to read you one other thing. This was from his deputy press secretary, Joshua Earnest, who said: "In terms of the president's relationship with Congress, the president is no longer tied to Washington, D.C., winning a full-year extension of the cut in payroll taxes is the last must-do piece of legislation for the White House."
This is a president who really doesn't want to deal with you.
CROWLEY: Well, it is not a question of wanting to deal with me. He doesn't want to deal with the obstructionism of the Republicans in Congress. But to answer your question, I have no problem with the president's statement. I think he should run against this do-nothing Congress. For the past year there's been very little -- there has been a missed opportunity for building the infrastructure of America, making it in America with manufacturing initiatives for our country.
We have missed an opportunity and much of it because they want to obstruct the initiatives of the president or to work in a bipartisan way with him, with us, to get the job done. So I think what the president -- and for the good of the country, forget Democrats, Republicans, for the good of the country, I think it is really important for the president to make the race that he is running against a do-nothing Congress. He says Republicans...
CROWLEY: That's like no coat-tails, no nothing. It's like, every man for himself out there for House Democrats.
PELOSI: Well, campaigns are always that way. We have -- we will be running in states where the president is not running because he will either be winning those states or not taking on the state because it is not a good state for him, that's where a lot of our races are.
Our races are about the House of Representatives, one district at a time. We think we are in good shape. We want the president to run the race that is important for the country and this do-nothing Congress must be defeated.
CROWLEY: So if people say he's throwing you under the bus.
PELOSI: No, we don't feel that way. We don't feel that way. We are very proud of our president. We believe that his getting out there and -- I always say, President Abraham Lincoln said public sentiment is everything. And it is very important for the president to make it clear to the public what the choices have been and will be for the future. And I completely subscribe to his approach.
I do like that he says Republican from time to time.
CROWLEY: Do you think these separate campaigns -- we've had some redistricting so you have some members running against each other in primaries. You need a 25-seat pick-up if you...
PELOSI: Drive for 25.
CROWLEY: Drive for 25, if the Democrats are to retake the majority. And yet you, yourself wrote a letter to your members saying, you guys need to pony up some money...
PELOSI: Yes, they do.
CROWLEY: ... out of your campaigns to put into the overall congressional campaign because it is lower -- the contribution rate is lower than it has been. Is that a reflection of, hey, get out there and win whatever you can and they need every dime they can get?
PELOSI: Well, I think it is a reflection of this as a redistricting year. And we were just wanting them to make sure they were budgeting after they are finished with redistricting in their state. So some of them don't even have a district yet, don't even know if they're going to be running against each other, much less if they're going to have a serious general election. CROWLEY: Let me turn you to a couple of your former colleagues. Newt Gingrich has said out on the campaign trail that the single dumbest thing he ever did was sit down on that couch and make an ad with you...
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PELOSI: I'm Nancy Pelosi. Life-long Democrat and speaker of the house.
GINGRICH: And I'm Newt Gingrich, life-long Republican and I used to be speaker.
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CROWLEY: ... about climate change.
PELOSI: Well, I don't want to make any comments about Newt Gingrich, he who has been fined $300,000 by the Ethics Committee, you think he'd consider that a big mistake.
CROWLEY: Surely. But I'm encouraged only because you had said, well, we'll have a conversation about Newt Gingrich later. So I'm hoping later is now.
PELOSI: No, no, no. Well, I mean, what I said is, read the public record. Read the public record. And that's all you need to do about Newt Gingrich's...
CROWLEY: And so you think that disqualifies him or should disqualify him?
PELOSI: Well, the nomination for president is up to the Republican Party. I respectfully watch how they are making their choices. But it is -- since you brought up my name in association with him as the dumbest thing he ever did, I think there's plenty of stiff competition for that honor as far as his activities are concerned.
CROWLEY: Do you regret that ad?
PELOSI: No. I'm not turning my back on the need for us to address the climate crisis in the world. I hope he isn't either.
CROWLEY: How about Ron Paul? You've worked with him for a long time. What kind of guy is he? What kind of president would he be?
PELOSI: Well, you know, again, when we get to the nomination, when they have somebody, we can talk about that. But I have a great deal of respect for Ron Paul. He acts upon his convictions and he's a nice fellow in the Congress of the United States.
He's a gentleman.
CROWLEY: He is indeed. Have you ever met Mitt Romney?
PELOSI: I don't think so. It wasn't memorable, if I did.
CROWLEY: Let me move you on to a different subject, and that is your own re-election. Are you committed, if re-elected this November, to serving out that full term, whether you are the majority or the minority?
PELOSI: Yes. There's no greater honor for me than to be the representative for San Francisco. You've been there. You know how great it is.
CROWLEY: It's a great place, yes. PELOSI: The people are wonderful. And no honor that my colleagues could ever bestow on me is as -- as great as being representative from San Francisco.
CROWLEY: So you are in for the next two years, come what may?
PELOSI: Come what may, yes.
CROWLEY: Give me a one-word answer. How many seats you going to pick up in November?
PELOSI: I think enough. We're very confident. Today I believe that we would be successful, but, you know, we take it one day at a time. But by the fact that we have excellent candidates, a strong response from the grassroots and support around the country and lots of enthusiasm. We -- under the leadership of Steve Israel, our chairman, we're way beyond where we thought we would be at this point.
CROWLEY: Do you look forward to going out on the campaign trail?
PELOSI: I look forward to that.
CROWLEY: Thank you so much...
PELOSI: My pleasure.
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