Pelosi on power in DC: ‘You have to seize it’

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) addresses reporters during her weekly on-camera press conference
Greg Nash

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in an upcoming biography says that the biggest lesson she learned during her time in Washington, D.C., is that you have to “seize” power because it is not given. 

Pelosi revealed the lesson, which she said she initially learned from her father, Thomas D’Alesandro Jr., in interviews with USA Today Washington bureau chief Susan Page.

Page is the author of an upcoming book about Pelosi titled “Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi and the Lessons of Power.” 

Page in an interview on the book published Friday pointed out that D’Alesandro was a primary challenger to a long-term incumbent Democrat when he eventually took his seat as a U.S. representative from Maryland. 

The journalist said Pelosi, the first woman elected to be Speaker of the House, followed in her father’s footsteps by beating out Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) for the House Democratic whip role in 2001, “at a time that was considered quite ‘how dare she.'” 

Page said of Pelosi, “When people come to her and say, you know, ‘Give me power,’ or ‘Should I run?’ This is the advice that she’s given over the years: ‘Nobody’s going to give it to you. You’ve got to take it.’”

The lesson is one of a series of insights unveiled in the upcoming book to be released on Tuesday. The work consists of 10 interviews with Pelosi and 150 interviews with political friends, foes and family members close to the Speaker.

USA Today reported last week that Pelosi, in conversations for the book, revealed that she had planned on retiring from elected office until former President Trump won the 2016 election. 

Pelosi told Page that she had been confident that then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton would protect her policy interests had she won, adding that she felt “physical” shock when Trump came out of the election victorious. 

The Speaker also in the book gives advice to progressive Democrats including members of the “squad,” Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.). 

“You’re not a one-person show. This is the Congress of the United States,” Pelosi said of the lawmakers. 

Excerpts of the book obtained by Punch Bowl News also revealed that Pelosi called Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) an “enabler of some of the worst stuff” in Congress and that he “is not a force for good in our country.”

Tags 2016 election Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Ayanna Pressley Biography Congress Donald Trump Hillary Clinton House House Speaker Ilhan Omar Maryland Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Rashida Tlaib Steny Hoyer Susan Page USA Today Washington D.C.
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