House Speaker Nancy Pelosi does not want the United States to boycott the Beijing Olympics, but she says that President Bush should consider skipping the opening ceremony.
"I think boycotting the opening ceremony, which really gives respect to the Chinese government, is something that should be kept on the table," the California Democrat told "Good Morning America" co-anchor Robin Roberts in an interview today. "I think the president might want to rethink this later, depending on what other heads of state do."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced she will not attend the Olympic Games, set to begin Aug. 8, 2008. Pelosi, meanwhile, has been outspoken in support of Tibet, the site of recent crackdowns on human rights demonstrators by the Chinese government.
In a recent trip to Dharmasala, India, home of the Dalai Lama's displaced Tibetan government, Pelosi said, "If freedom-loving people don't speak out against China's oppression of people in Tibet, we have lost all moral authority to speak out against any oppressed people."
In the interview with "GMA," the speaker continued to denounce China's rule over Tibet and expressed regret that the communist nation would play host to the Summer Games.
"I don't think China should have gotten the Olympic Games to begin with," Pelosi said. "I had a resolution in the Congress, which was very popular, and bipartisan support on it. But they did get them with the promise that they would open up more and have better respect for human rights and freedom of expression. They have not honored that."
Pelosi contends the recent violence in Tibet proves China has not committed to improving the country's human rights record.
"People have been saying they're shooting our people like dogs," Tenzin Norgay, the spokesman for the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy, told ABC News, citing sources inside Tibet.
Despite those reports, Pelosi insists that the Games should go on.
"There's a difference between that ceremony and the actual athletic events," Pelosi said.
"I don't agree with the perception that is out there that the Olympic Games are this great, unifying, human rights-advocating organization. It's a sporting event. It's a sporting event and it should proceed," said Pelosi.
But the House leader also sees an opportunity, and she urged the International Olympic Committee to use its influence to pressure China.
"[The International Olympic Committee] should insist that China honor the commitment that they made. But they have not, and the Olympic committee is just proceeding. They should. The plans are in the works. The athletes have trained. It should go forward," she said.
On the home front, Pelosi said she returned from travels abroad with "a stronger urgency for a Democratic victory in November."
"I think the election has to run its course," Pelosi said, adding, "at some point it'll be clear that there is a front-runner, and at that point we would hope that, for the greater good, for the country, that we can all rally as early as possible behind one person."
It's too early to point to New York Sen. Hillary Clinton or Illinois Sen. Barack Obama as the lead Democratic contender, Pelosi says.