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Nancy Pelosi offers election night predictions

November 8, 2016 at 6:45 PM EST
As the first polls begin to close, we get predictions from both sides of the aisle. Judy Woodruff speaks with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi about her Clinton hopes and challenges for Democrats.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: We get some perspective now from supporters of both candidates.

And we start with the minority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, California Democrat Nancy Pelosi. She was the first and only woman to serve as speaker of the House. And, at this moment, she is the highest-ranking female politician in American history.

But, Madam Leader, I think you’re probably hoping that that is not going to last much longer after tonight. Is that right?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-Calif.): I’m counting the minutes to relinquish that title. I have worn my white and purple, colors of the Suffragettes, in honor of the fact that we have our first woman president, soon to be, Hillary Clinton, elected president of the United States.

But the vote is sacred. Until the people speak, we don’t celebrate.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what are you expecting tonight? You obviously are hoping for Democrats to do well everywhere, but what are you hearing? What kind of judgment — information are you getting that you trust?

REP. NANCY PELOSI: Well, tonight, I believe that the Democrats will come out in a stronger position.

We will, of course, retain the White House, with the election of Hillary Clinton. I believe we will gain the United States Senate. It will be close, but we will gain the United States Senate. And we will pick up many seats in the House of Representatives.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Why are you so confident about the White House?

REP. NANCY PELOSI: Because I’m confident in the American people.

I believe that Hillary Clinton is one of the best prepared people in our history to enter the Oval Office, with her vision, her knowledge, her experience, her strategic thinking, her connection to the American people. And I think she has made that case.

But, as you know, the vote is sacred. It’s almost a prayerful time for us, as we wait for the people to speak and the returns to come in. But I’m confident. I’m also confident because, in our efforts to win seats for the White House and to win the Senate, governorships, et cetera, we have really had a massive mobilization.

We own the ground, and we will pull out that vote.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, most of the attention, as you know, has been on the Senate. There are six or seven seats there very, very, very close.

REP. NANCY PELOSI: That’s right.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Less attention on the House, your body, because it’s been pretty much expected that the Democrats are not going to make the 30-seat pickup that you would need to take the majority.

There was optimism a few weeks ago. Then along came FBI Director Comey’s announcement. What do you realistically think right now about the House?

REP. NANCY PELOSI: Well, let’s see.

I always to people it’s like the Olympics. Everything within a half-a-minute or a half-an-inch is gold, silver, bronze or nothing. And our races are very close.

But I think that we will not lose any members. I think we will pick up many open seats, and we will unseat many Republicans. And there will be some surprises.

But you point out Director Comey’s comment. With his letter that he sent out, he became the leading Republican political operative in the country. He has had a tremendous impact on the lead that Hillary Clinton had, which was important to the House, Senate, and other races down-ballot.

JUDY WOODRUFF: We’re talking, Madam Leader, about an election that has divided the country.

It has been — it seems to me that’s the overwhelming feeling coming out of this election at the end of it. Is that how you see it? Do you think the country is further divided by what’s happened?

REP. NANCY PELOSI: I think that people have great anger over what happened in 2008 in terms of the economy.

And that has given them anxiety about the future. And that has to be respected. And some of that has manifested itself in a vote for Donald Trump.

But I do think that our democracy is so great, we can withstand even a candidacy of Donald Trump. And when we emerge from this, it has to be respecting the position of those who supported him, addressing the anger and anxiety that they have, and, again, bringing the country together, which was always the purpose of our founders, a more perfect union.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, that brings me what’s going on in so-called blue states, especially the Upper Midwest, states like Michigan, even Minnesota, Wisconsin, where Donald Trump does seem to be doing better than President Obama did a few years ago.

A lot of people are asking, are Democrats really being responsive to blue-collar working-class individuals who used to think of the Democratic Party as their party, but are now looking in another direction?

REP. NANCY PELOSI: Well, I would say this. President Obama and the congressional Democrats have certainly been responsive.

And what we do in terms of people in the area that you mentioned, we had the bailout of the auto industry, creating so many jobs in the industry and for those who supply the industry. And yet we didn’t advertise it enough.

So I think, yes, we were there in terms of middle-class economics and an economy that works for everyone, strengthening paychecks, increasing consumer confidence, people consuming, injecting demand into the economy, creating jobs vs. trickle-down economics, tax breaks for the wealthiest people.

But we didn’t message it properly. So, how could it be that Michigan, Indiana, all of those states that have benefited from the auto bailout, from middle-class economics, have decided to vote Republican? There are some other reasons as well, some that are sociological, in addition to economics.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Just finally, you don’t believe that Democrats have some work to do in order to, not just messaging, but in order to come up with programs, with ideas that can capture the imagination and the support of these people?

REP. NANCY PELOSI: Well, President Obama came up with tremendous ideas, but he was blocked by the Republicans.

But we can all do better. We can all do better. We’re an entrepreneurial society. We had entrepreneurs who started our country. And they want us to think in fresh, new, different ways all of the time.

But the fact is, is that people in some of these regions are voting against their own economic interests. We have to work together. They have concerns about trade. So do we. We want a trade that is not trickle-down trade, but trade that recognizes we’re in a global economy.

So, we have to work together on all of those things. But I stand by what I said, is the Democrats have been there for working people in our country. That’s who we are, trickle-down vs. middle-class economics. That’s the major difference between the parties.

If we didn’t have this foolishness going on with some of the — that went on in the presidential campaign, we could have had a better discussion of that.

But, again, this is almost a religious experience, Election Day, and all the voting that has gone leading up to it. Lincoln said, public sentiment is everything. We have to listen to the people and come together as we prioritize our agenda and go forward.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And just finally, Madam Leader, how does the next president bring the two sides together, the two parties together after this election?

REP. NANCY PELOSI: Well, I think we will see some of that tonight.

I think Hillary Clinton’s statement tonight about being the president of all of the people, again, we have our differences since the beginning of our country. It’s a legitimate difference. What is the role of government, et cetera, federal, state, local?

But, also, we have respect for other people’s points of view. And I think that that has to really come across in what Hillary Clinton says tonight.

She needs no advice from anyone. You know, she’s an experienced public figure. But there has to be no doubt that this isn’t about Democrats or Republicans. That’s minor. It’s about America. It’s about the vows of our — honoring the vows of our founders, respecting the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, and honoring the aspirations of our children and their future.

So, elections are about the future. And whoever is going to be president tonight — and I think it will be Hillary — has to understand that it’s a responsibility well beyond party and all about America’s future.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The minority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, who, as we said, is the highest-ranking woman in the American government right now.

REP. NANCY PELOSI: For the moment. For the moment.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you very much for joining us.

REP. NANCY PELOSI: My pleasure. Thank you, Judy.

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