Nancy Pelosi is ready for this fight

Nancy Pelosi is ready for this fight
© Greg Nash

Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse Judiciary Committee formally receives impeachment report Overnight Energy: Pelosi vows bold action to counter 'existential' climate threat | Trump jokes new light bulbs don't make him look as good | 'Forever chemicals' measure pulled from defense bill Overnight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson – House progressives may try to block vote on Pelosi drug bill | McConnell, Grassley at odds over Trump-backed drug pricing bill | Lawmakers close to deal on surprise medical bills MORE (D-Calif.), Speaker of The United States House of Representatives, was made for this moment. With a congressional career spanning 32 years, Speaker Pelosi is poised to lead her caucus through uncertain impeachment waters during the coming months.

This past week, I joined former U.S. Rep. Jack KingstonJohon (Jack) Heddens KingstonHundreds apply to fill Isakson's Senate seat in Georgia Nancy Pelosi is ready for this fight 5 Republicans who could replace Isakson in Georgia's Senate race MORE (R-Ga.) for Bloomberg’s Sound On hosted by Kevin Cirilli and reacted, in real time, to the breaking news of Speaker Pelosi’s press conference announcing impeachment proceedings in the House. During the conversation, we often returned to the similarities and differences related to the Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonThe Hill's Morning Report — Pelosi makes it official: Trump will be impeached Impeachment can't wait Turley: Democrats offering passion over proof in Trump impeachment MORE impeachment saga in the late 90’s. Kingston was a member of the House during that time and was a leading conservative voice advocating for the impeachment and removal of President Clinton.

Today, just 56 of Kingston’s former colleagues during the Clinton impeachment proceedings remain in Congress — 42 Democrats and 14 Republicans. The three top Democrats, Speaker Pelosi (first elected in 1987) and Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse approves two-state resolution in implicit rebuke of Trump Overnight Health Care: House to vote next week on drug prices bill | Conway says Trump trying to find 'balance' on youth vaping | US spent trillion on hospitals in 2018 House to vote next week on sweeping bill to lower drug prices MORE (D-Md.) and Majority Whip Jim ClyburnJames (Jim) Enos ClyburnTop Democrat: 'Obstruction of justice' is 'too clear not to include' in impeachment probe GOP senator blasts Dem bills on 'opportunity zones' Harris: Suggestion that older African Americans are homophobic 'just nonsense' MORE (D-S.C.) are among those 42 Democrats. So are the current chairs of five key Congressional committees involved in the current impeachment crisis: Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelHouse approves two-state resolution in implicit rebuke of Trump House leaders: Trump administration asking South Korea to pay more for US troops 'a needless wedge' Trump administration releases 5M in military aid for Lebanon after months-long delay MORE (D-N.Y.); Ways and Means Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealOvernight Health Care: House to vote next week on drug prices bill | Conway says Trump trying to find 'balance' on youth vaping | US spent trillion on hospitals in 2018 Democrats could introduce articles of impeachment next week House to vote next week on sweeping bill to lower drug prices MORE (D-Mass.); Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersDemocrats could introduce articles of impeachment next week What are not criteria for impeachment? Fed's top regulator takes heat from both parties MORE (D-Calif.); Judiciary Chairman Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerREAD: White House letter refusing to participate in impeachment hearings White House tells Democrats it won't cooperate in impeachment hearings Democrat says he expects to oppose articles of impeachment against Trump MORE (D-N.Y.); and Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsImpeachment can't wait Adam Schiff's star rises with impeachment hearings Tucker Carlson calls Trump 'full-blown BS artist' in segment defending him from media coverage MORE (D-Md.). The sixth key House Committee, Intelligence, is headed by Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTrump denies report that he still uses personal cell phone for calls Schiff asks Pence to declassify more material from official's testimony Schiff: Impeachment testimony shows Trump 'doesn't give a shit' about what's good for the country MORE (D-Calif.) who took office in 2001.

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No current member of the House GOP leadership served during the Clinton administration.

Only Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyLawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families How centrist Dems learned to stop worrying and love impeachment On The Money: Senate passes first spending package as shutdown looms | Treasury moves to roll back Obama rules on offshore tax deals | Trade deal talks manage to weather Trump impeachment storm MORE (R-Texas), who was in office in the 90’s, serves as a Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Committee — one of the six key committees identified in Pelosi’s press conference.

What all of this means is that Democrats have a strong advantage when it comes to impeachment experience, having so many more members, especially in leadership, who were around for the last impeachment effort.

This experience from the 90’s could be one of the critical reasons Speaker Pelosi was more hesitant to move forward with a formal impeachment proceeding than many of her Democratic colleagues. Pelosi had seen firsthand what happened to Republicans at the ballot box during the 1998 midterms, when the Democrats picked up five seats in the House. Then-House Speaker Newt GingrichNewton (Newt) Leroy GingrichMORE had assured his members that the GOP caucus was likely to pick up 30 seats in the midterms. Gingrich’s miscalculation on public sentiment led to his eventual ouster from leadership and resignation from the House following the electoral drubbing.

Indeed, as Chris Smith notes in Vanity Fair, Pelosi “had thrown cold water on calls for impeachment for more than two years… based on… a belief that her party’s nominee has a good shot at beating Trump in 2020, and the need to protect congressional Democrats who are vulnerable to defeat in swing districts.”

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In a brand new Business Insider poll released Thursday morning, 45 percent of respondents supported impeachment, with 29 percent indicating that they strongly supported it; 30 percent of respondents opposed impeachment, with an additional 25 percent unsure or unaware of what impeachment is. According to the report, “the poll was conducted Wednesday and Thursday, after Pelosi’s announcement but as the news was still developing.”

If the Business Insider poll is an accurate snapshot following the transcript’s release, that would demonstrate an eight percent increase in public support from a Quinnipiac University poll released earlier this week that indicated public support for impeachment at 37 percent.

Any hopes held by the president or Trump administration officials that the release of the abbreviated call transcript would quell talk of impeachment have been dashed. According to CNN, “top Democrats have concluded it showed clear evidence of [Trump] pressuring a foreign leader for political advantage.”

Despite the Mueller Probe’s numerous citations involving potential obstruction of justice violations committed by Trump, the lengthy report was cumbersome and confusing to many Americans. New charges involving this whistleblower report and the transcript, according to Pelosi, “is the most understandable by the public.”

In the same interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg this past week, the speaker went on to say, “public sentiment is everything,” and quoted Abraham Lincoln as saying, “with it, you can accomplish practically anything. Without it, practically nothing.”

As one of the few Members of Congress in office during the Clinton impeachment, Pelosi and her chief lieutenants know all too well just how important public sentiment is for rallying members and the general public to their cause. I wouldn’t bet against her or them as this process plays out.

Kevin Walling (@kpwalling) is a Democratic strategist, Vice President at HGCreative, co-founder of Celtic Strategies, and a regular guest on Fox News and Fox Business.