The Speaker of the House
LHJ: How would you describe your working relationship with the other members of the Congressional leadership, who are for the most part male? Did you ever feel that you were treated differently at all?
NP: No, no, I never did, actually. Power is not something that is given away, and the last thing I could say to somebody was "Vote for me because I'm a woman." That would not have been successful. But it is important to have women in leadership if those women can do the job. I could do the job better than anyone else, and that's why I ran. And I do commend my colleagues, both Democratic and Republican, for their recognition of that. Regardless of whether I'm a woman or a man, I am the Speaker of the House with all that that implies.
LHJ: There were campaign tactics used in the midterms of 2006 with the message that, if you do vote for the Democrats, then Pelosi will be Speaker. Do you feel that was motivated in any way by misogyny?
NP: Well, I think that whatever it was, it didn't work, and I think had they tried it now in the special elections it wouldn't have worked again. I don't understand why someone would think that was a good idea! If we want people to respect what we do, to be drawn to public service, to engage in the political arena, why would we start with the first woman to emerge as the leader of the Congress by labeling it in a way that is less than complimentary? I think it got the response that it deserved.
LHJ: Yes -- you won.
NP: We had a plan. No one gives power away -- it's always something you have to fight very hard for. We had the issues on our side, about a new direction for our country. We had a political plan in place that was successful, and we were able to attract the support of the American people.
LHJ: On that note, a few words about the Clinton campaign -- what's your take on why it was ultimately an unsuccessful effort?
NP: I would not describe it as an unsuccessful effort. I think that two things were at stake in the campaign. One is the election -- obviously, who wins the election is up to the voters. But it's up to the person, the individual candidate, who wins the campaign, and I think that Hillary Clinton came out the big winner. Well, both candidates did. Both were able to attract millions of new supporters to the Democratic Party with a fervor that was very positive for the future, so regardless of who wins the election, both candidates can win the campaign, and Hillary Clinton did succeed. With her candidacy, new ground was broken for women, as new ground was broken when Geraldine Ferraro was the vice-presidential nominee in 1984.
LHJ: Do you think we'll have to wait as long again for another potential female president?
NP: No, I don't. First of all, Hillary Clinton is still here and young enough to run again in a number of years, but there are also women in the House, in the Congress, and in the governorships. It won't be long before it won't be unusual for us to have viable, strong women candidates for President of the United States. And I take great joy in that thought.
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