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MSNBC "The Rachel Maddow Show" - Transcript


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Madame Leader, it`s great to have you here. Thank you for coming.

PELOSI: My pleasure, Rachel. Great to be here, always.

MADDOW: Democrats need 25 seats?

PELOSI: Yes, we have a drive for 25.

MADDOW: You have said that you think the majority is with you. The momentum is with you. Is that based on what`s going on in the presidential
race, or is there something else that`s going on that makes you feel that

PELOSI: Well, both. We have been working very hard to get to a place to put the House in place. We did that by, say, late spring/early summer.

But when August 11th, mark that date on your calendar, when Ryan was chosen, that made a very big difference, because Medicare, Medicare, Medicare, the three most important issues in the campaign, in alphabetical order, that issue was clarified, focus was on it, and we could not lose the debate about Medicare, because if we do, forget Democrats, forget Republicans, Medicare is gone. We`ll be back to a time before Lyndon Johnson. We will be putting seniors at the mercy of the insurance companies by giving them a voucher, but not a guarantee.

And the severing of that guarantee, the architect of that, is Paul Ryan, his being chosen made a big difference for you.

MADDOW: And so, you feel like the choice of Paul Ryan made essentially every other campaign issue, at least, fall away for any House candidate who chooses to run on that. That that`s a clear enough issue on that issue that nothing else really has to matter?

PELOSI: Well, on House races, especially in a presidential year, you only have a small opportunity to get people`s attention and to hit them with your best shot, as to what your message is. And this has been an issue that hits every generation.

It`s about the seniors, of course, it`s about their families, and how all of them can have economic as well as health security, because their seniors are taken care of.

We`re very excited about it. But I wish that it were not a race about Medicare, because the fact is, Medicare is on the ballot.

My name is on the ballot, the president`s name is on the ballot, many people`s names are on the ballot. And if we do not win the House, and of course if the president doesn`t win, but we feel pretty good about the president`s winning, that would be very much at risk.

MADDOW: In terms of how you think that shapes the map and opportunities for House Democrats, are there places in the country that you feel like you might, honestly, not be all that competitive this year. But specifically on that issue, specifically because Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan, there`s geographical parts of the country are Democrats can compete better.

PELOSI: Well, first of all, the fact that President Obama is on the ticket will get more people to the polls. On many of the races, the battleground states that you showed earlier, are just a few states. We`re in more states than the president. So we`re basically on our own, Texas, California, New York, Illinois, Maryland, Washington state, Arizona, although it may become a battleground state, because the opportunity might be there for the president.

And we expect to win about 20 seats in the states I just named. Then we go where the president is, Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, states like that, to take us, oh, I want to go beyond 25. I`d like to have 35.

But the -- it`s a very discreet races, some states have blue patches that we want to win back. There are 66 districts that are held by Republicans that were won by President Obama and about a third of those were also won by John Kerry. And so, we think there`s real opportunity.

Now, mind you, people didn`t say we were going to win the House in `06
when we first made this attempt.


PELOSI: Yet. It took like another few weeks before they started to see the handwriting on the wall that the momentum was with us, and that the polls, and that these individual districts were coming our way. Right now,
we`re in about an average of five, five points ahead, average in the generic.

Some eight, some two, average of five, that five is enough to win the House. I`d like six or seven percentage points difference in the polling for us to take --

MADDOW: In terms of the generic ballot, people are asked, do you prefer a Republican or a Democratic Congress?

PELOSI: In individual districts.

MADDOW: In individual districts.

One of the issues that gets a lot of attention in terms of how it might affect the presidential race is the issue of voter suppression, becoming more difficult to register to vote and to vote. If you have a moment, we have actually some new news on that out of Florida. Can you hold on a moment, we come back and comment on that? How that`s going to affect not just the presidential race, but also the race to control the Congress.

We`ll be back with Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi right after this.


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