Nancy Pelosi: We're not ceding one grain of sand to Republicans

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi says her party can gain the 25 seats it needs to retake the House in November, but that it will be an intense, grass-roots fight.

Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor
Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi (D) of California, speaks at the Sept. 5 Monitor breakfast at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Elected to the House from San Francisco in 1987, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D) of California rose rapidly to become the first woman to be speaker of the House, in 2007. House Demo­cratic leader since 2011, Representative Pelosi was the guest at the Sept. 5 Monitor breakfast at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Her response to Mitt Romney's question, "Are you better off?" than four years ago:

"The question has to be, 'Is the country better off?' The country is better off than we were on Sept. 18 [2008], that very night, when we gathered in the speaker's office and ... the secretary of the Treasury [Henry Paulson Jr.] described a scenario taking us to the depths of hell in terms of the financial institutions, that is what the situation was.... [Federal Reserve Board] Chair­man [Ben] Bernanke said if we do not act immediately we will not have an economy by Monday. This is Thursday night.... Are we better off than we were then? Yes."

How Democrats hope to regain control of the House in November by netting 25 additional seats:

"Mano a mano, door to door, neighborhood to neighborhood, precinct to precinct, district by district.... It is a very intense grass-roots operation. We are not ceding one grain of sand, not one grain of sand. We've out-raised them, we've out-districted them ... we've out-recruited them."

Why polls show the presidential election is so close:

"It is a reflection of the attitude of the American people. I don't even know if there are any undecided people left, do you?... This competition is for a very narrow group ... so everybody has to dig deep to make sure the people who support them turn out."

Dealing with the "fiscal cliff" – the major tax hikes and budget reductions slated to take effect at year's end:

"I wish the president and [former] Gov­ernor Romney would come together and say 'Let's put something on the table and get this done,' and not wait until the election and not wait until the lame duck [session of Congress], because time is really important; and if we could narrow the number of days of uncertainty in all of this, that would be good."

The best way for President Obama to deal with Republican opposition in Congress:

"In this day and age of [media] technology being so in real time, unfiltered, in some cases raw, not even vetted or checked out as to what is real about it or not ... it is really important to take [issues] to the public. Every time he has, he has won the day."

Her first Democratic convention:

"[In 1952] I went to that convention with my family. It was in Chicago. And my parents gave me this stuffed donkey ... that was to be named for the nominee of the party.

But we didn't know who it was going to be, going in. So the names that they told me my donkey would be [were] Adlai [Stevenson], Estes [Kefauver], Averell [Harriman]. We didn't have any names like that in the neighborhood. The next time was in 1960 when I went with them, now grown older and in school. That was the nomination of John F. Kennedy."

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