"I am biased, but I think Nancy was one of the best Speakers of the House this country ever had," Obama said after Pelosi had introduced him at the National Italian American Foundation gala.
Pelosi, the veteran lawmaker from San Francisco, was the House's 60th Speaker and the first woman to hold that position.
Now the minority leader, Pelosi handed the gavel to John BoehnerJohn BoehnerEXCLUSIVE: Pro-Hillary group takes 0K in banned donations Ryan: Benghazi report shows administration's failures Clinton can't escape Benghazi responsibility MORE (R-Ohio) after Republicans trounced Democrats in the 2010 midterm elections.
In the past, conservative campaigns have tried to paint Pelosi -- and her leadership role in the Democratic Party -- as the threatening face of the left.
As Republicans try to take the White House from Obama in 2012 and keep their majority in the House, they will likely pounce on the president's desire to have Pelosi back in power in Congress.