(MCT) — WASHINGTON — When Nancy Pelosi announced Wednesday that she would seek to remain House Democratic leader, she surrounded herself with many of the record 61 women who will be a part of her caucus.
“I’m so proud to stand here with you, my sisters,” she said.
Although Republicans still control the House, Pelosi delighted in the new face of the Democratic team: for the first time a majority of members are women and minorities.
For some, Pelosi said, referring to the negotiations among congressional leaders, “the thought of four men at that table was not an appealing sight.”
Pelosi, 72, who became the first woman House speaker in 2007 before losing the gavel to Republican John Boehner of Ohio in 2011, said she conferred with her family and colleagues before deciding to seek to remain minority leader. Their message: “Don’t even think of leaving,” she said.
The Democratic leader from San Francisco is revered among her rank and file for her prolific campaign fundraising skills.
But she is also is a polarizing figure, and Republicans welcomed the prospect of continuing to have Pelosi as a target. “There is no better person to preside over the most liberal House Democratic Caucus in history than the woman who is solely responsible for relegating it to a prolonged minority status,” said Paul Lindsay, a spokesman for the House GOP campaign arm.
House Democrats are expected to formally approve her as their leader later this month. Reps. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., and Raul M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said in a written statement that Pelosi is “exactly what House Democrats need as we represent the changing face of 21st century America.”
Elected to the House in 1987 — when only 23 women were serving — she was chosen minority leader in 2002, becoming the first woman to head a party in either chamber of Congress, as well as the first top party leader in the House from California. In 2010, she ran again for minority leader after Democrats lost control of the chamber.
Pelosi took offense to a reporter questioning whether the party needed a younger leader. The women surrounding her hissed. She responded that she had a later start than other politicians “because I was home raising a family, getting the best experience of all in diplomacy, interpersonal skills.”
Then, in response to the question, she added: “And the answer is no!”