Exclusive: Pelosi Says Democrats Have 'Very Good Chance' to Win Back the House in 2012


She said that while Republicans are focusing their message on reducing the deficit, voters should be mindful of the causes that led to the looming debt crisis.

"To reduce the deficit, you have to promote growth through jobs, you have to make cuts where you can, and make them wisely, and you have to put revenue on the table. That's how you are going to reduce the deficit," Pelosi said. "People don't want to hear about how we got here, but we got here because of the policies of President Bush and we don't want to repeat them. And so we want to have something different. We want to have investment in jobs. We want to have revenue on the table so that we can reduce the deficit, and we have to make cuts."

Pelosi, who served as the country's first female House speaker during the 110th and 111th sessions of Congress, said that when President Obama begins withdrawing troops from Afghanistan this summer, he must make a sizeable withdrawal that changes the focus of the mission from one of military support to civilian support.

"We will see what the president proposes, but it will have to be something more substantial than we have heard so far, which is a few thousand troops," Pelosi said. "The transition from military to civilian is going to be in the interest of our security, that it reduces the number of military who have to be there at risk, [and] it reduces the amount of money by like tenfold. If you spent $10 billion on the civilian effort you probably will get more security than $120 billion dollars a year, which is what we are spending on the military effort [now]. It doesn't mean you completely eliminate the military effort."

Pelosi said that an upcoming vote on a resolution to withdraw from NATO operations within 15 days of passage does not have her support, although she admitted she respects the intentions of the author of the measure, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, to protect the Constitutional powers of Congress.

"I don't think that this resolution is the way for us to go," she said. "If it is a statement about Congress asserting its authority then let's do it another way. But the very idea that within 15 days we would abandon a NATO commitment I just don't think is right.

"Besides," she added, "we don't have boots on the ground in Libya. I am very protective of Congress' prerogatives, as you can just imagine, but I don't think that that is the way to go and I am not sure that the votes are there for that."

Pelosi also weighed in on the buzz surrounding Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., who claims a lewd photo posted to his Twitter account was the result of a "prank" by an unknown hacker.

"I got off the plane [Tuesday] and everyone was talking about this and I was like, 'I don't even know what you are talking about,' because when you come from the West Coast to the East Coast you have a day where you just don't even know what is going on until you get off the plane. So I am a late comer to the issue. But I am sure I have confidence in Anthony Weiner that if an investigation is in order, that will take place."

As for the timing of the return to Congress of her close friend, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Pelosi said the Arizona Democrat is recovering "by leaps and bounds" from a gunshot wound to the head last January, but Pelosi is unsure how soon Giffords could resume her work at the Capitol. Still, Pelosi predicted Giffords "definitely" would return.

"I can't make a prediction in terms of when that will be, but I am pleased with what her surgeon and those doing her therapy have said about her recovery," Pelosi said. "I talk to her. I spent a lot of time with her doctors in the facility where she was at first and now where she is, and in both places they tell me they expect a complete recovery.

"She is young, she is fit, she is determined, she does her therapy. She now has had this most recent procedure, which will enable her to go home soon," Pelosi added. "With the strength that she has, I know we'll see her back."

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