Pelosi's office disputes report she doesn't want to be House Speaker again

The office of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) pushed back hard Friday against a report indicating the House minority leader is not interested in the Speaker's gavel if Democrats win back the House.

“The Leader fully intends to be a Member of a Democratic Majority in the 114th Congress,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said in an email. “The rest is up to her colleagues, as the Leader has long stated publicly.”

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The statement was a response to an Aug. 22 interview with National Journal, published Thursday, in which Pelosi appeared to indicate that she doesn't want the Speaker's job again.

“No, that's not my thing. I did that,” Pelosi said.

In the published interview, the question that prompted that response was, “Do you want to be Speaker again?”

National Journal ran an update Friday afternoon indicating that the actual question was worded slighted less directly — "Do you wish for the chance for the Speaker position again?" — but the publication did not change the text of the article.

"The recorded audio file supports the edited transcript," the magazine said.

Pelosi's office said the difference in wording is significant, and Hammill argued that Pelosi was somewhat dismissive of the question because it suggested she was fighting to win back the majority for individual gain. The fight, Hammill said, is much larger than her.

“Leader Pelosi is working hard to win back a Democratic Majority and has long answered press questions by saying what’s important is Democrats winning the House back,” he said.

The 73-year-old Pelosi, who celebrated her silver anniversary on Capitol Hill last year, has led House Democrats since 2003. Hers is the longest run since Sam Rayburn, the legendary Texan who died in office 52 years ago. She has been notoriously reticent about how long she intends to stay in Congress and has already defied mass speculation that she might step down after the last two election cycles.

Instead, the energetic San Francisco liberal has spent the last 32 months as minority leader, scrambling at a frenetic pace to promote Democrats' message and raise money for the sole purpose of returning her party to the majority — and, likely, the Speaker's gavel to her hand.

Her sparse remarks to National Journal raised eyebrows around Washington for the suggestion that she might be eyeing the exit, remarks that reignited the years-old conversation about who might replace her.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.), the House Democratic whip, has been standing behind Pelosi for more than a decade after he challenged her unsuccessfully for the minority whip spot in 2001, and he is eager to move up the ladder should she step down.

Pelosi, meanwhile, has singled out a select group of younger lawmakers as the likely face of the party's future, including Reps. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) and Xavier Becerra (Calif.).

— This story was posted at 11:31 a.m. and updated at 2:34 p.m.

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