Pelosi decides to remain as House Democratic leader

WASHINGTON — Nancy Pelosi, the liberal San Francisco congresswoman who became the first woman speaker of the House, will seek to remain the Democratic leader in the next Congress.

Pelosi made the announcement Wednesday to a packed meeting of her caucus.

“They say a picture is worth a million words. Well this picture is worth millions of aspirations of the American people,” Pelosi told the gathering, according to a Democratic leadership aide in attendance at the closed meeting. “This new class makes our caucus historic. The first time in legislative history that a caucus will be a majority of women and minorities.”

“The message is clear from the American people. They want us to work together to get things done. And that’s what these folks are here to do. Just like all of you.

“We may not have the gavel, but as I can see in this room, we have the unity,” Pelosi said, according to the leadership aide, who asked for anonymity to discuss the private meeting.

Pelosi had been mum about her plans after Democrats failed to win the majority in Tuesday’s election.

A champion campaign fundraiser, Pelosi is regarded as a polarizing figure. Elected to the House in 1987, she was chosen by the Democratic rank and file in 2002 to succeed Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri as minority leader, becoming the first woman to head a party in either chamber of Congress, as well as the first top party leader in the House from California.

In 2007, she became speaker — and the first Californian to head the House — overseeing passage of the most far-reaching healthcare overhaul since the creation of Medicare, an economic stimulus program, and the revamping of financial regulations, often with little or no Republican support. But while she — and her Democratic majority — ruled the House, she became a favorite Republican campaign target as evidence of what’s wrong with Washington. In 2010, she ran again for minority leader after Democrats lost control of the chamber, but has stayed around in hopes of leading her party back to the majority.

Republicans welcomed the prospect of continuing to have Pelosi as a target.

“There is no better person to preside over the most liberal House Democratic Caucus in history than the woman who is solely responsible for relegating it to a prolonged minority status,” said Paul Lindsay, a spokesman for the House GOP campaign arm. “This decision signals that House Democrats have absolutely no interest in regaining the trust and confidence of the American people who took the speaker’s gavel away from Nancy Pelosi in the first place.”

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&Copy;2012 Los Angeles Times

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