Pelosi sees sexism in questions

Pelosi sees sexism in questions
© Greg Nash

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi suggested Thursday that the biennial questions swirling around her reign atop the Democrats have sexist roots.

Asked about the pressures to step down after last week's rout at the polls, the California Democrat wondered aloud why the media hadn't asked the same question of Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSchumer to GOP: Cancel 'conspiracy hearings' on origins of Russia probe Overnight Health Care: Trump says US 'terminating' relationship with WHO | Cuomo: NYC on track to start reopening week of June 8 | COVID-19 workplace complaints surge 10 things to know today about coronavirus MORE (R-Ky.), the Senate minority leader who failed to topple the Democratic majority in the 2008, 2010 and 2012 cycles.

"What was the day that any of you said to Mitch McConnell when they lost the Senate three times in a row ... 'Aren't you getting a little bit old, Mitch? Shouldn't you step aside?' Have you ever asked him that question?" she asked reporters during a press conference in the Capitol. 

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"It just is interesting, as a woman, to see how many times that question is asked of a woman, and how many times that question is never asked of Mitch McConnell," she added. "And I say that kind of thinking that I have a mission for women on this score."

Suggesting some evidence of the media's bias, Pelosi, the first female Speaker in the nation's history, wondered why that distinction didn't win her the cover of Time magazine.

"Wasn't that a curiosity? The Republicans win [and] BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerBottom line Pelosi, Trump slide further into the muck The partisan divide on crisis aid MORE's on the cover of Time magazine. Mitch McConnell wins, he's on the cover of Time magazine. Isn't there a pattern here?" she asked. 

"Who I am does not depend on any of that," she added. "But as a woman, it's like, 'Is there a message here?' "

Pelosi wasted little time last week announcing her bid to remain minority leader despite the midterm election results, which shifted more than a dozen new seats to the Republicans and created the largest GOP majority since 1929.

The 74-year-old faces no challenger, but some Democrats and party strategists are grumbling that her extended tenure — along with that of her top deputies, Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and James Clyburn (D-S.C.) — leaves no room for a younger crop of lawmakers to take the reins.

Pelosi, for her part, emphasized that she's only the leader as long as her caucus wants her to be.

"I'm here as long as my members want me to be here, as long as there's a reason to be here. I'm not here on a schedule [or] anything except a mission to get a job done," she said.

"Who I am is not dependent on being here," she added. "If you want me here, I'm happy to be here. If you don't, I'm proud of what we have done together."

The Democrats' leadership elections are slated for Nov. 18.