Pelosi Tells Disappointed Clinton Supporters to Avoid 'Victim Politics'

Nancy Pelosi says "respect the results," asks the party to unite behind Obama.


DENVER, Aug. 25, 2008— -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will kick off the Democratic National Convention by making one thing clear: The Democratic Party is united behind Sen. Barack Obama.

During an interview Sunday with "Nightline" co-anchor Terry Moran, the DNC chair said she expected the party to leave the convention "unified, organized, focused and disciplined."

When asked whether she expected a large demonstration by Sen. Hillary Clinton's delegates Tuesday, Pelosi said, "I'm all for it."

"This is not unusual in a campaign," she said. "It's healthy. It's important that people who have worked really hard during a campaign are able to express themselves at the convention on behalf of the candidate they worked for. They have to respect the results. If they don't want to participate, they don't, but we hope they will because we need to make the change we need to make for our country. And I think they know what is at stake. Losing is hard and people need to recognize the outcome and decide what the choices are."

Pelosi had tough words today for reporters who referred to previous conflicts between Obama and Clinton.

"We are going into the future. What did I walk into, a time capsule?" she asked.

Pelosi, who is building her own legacy as the first female House speaker, waved aside the notion that some women consider Obama's win as yet another example of a younger, less qualified man passing over a more qualified woman.

"This wasn't an appointment, this was an election," she told Moran. "You have to give credit to the Obama campaign. They out-organized everyone. A year ago, we all thought Sen. Clinton would be the candidate for president and therefore the president. We all thought that if there was some other candidate who would emerge, it would not be someone that hardly anyone had ever heard of, Barack Obama. "

A recent poll, however, showed 30 percent of Clinton supporters are not ready to back Obama.

"I think those polls also show among women Sen. Obama is 20 points ahead -- that's a big gender gap," Pelosi said. "Some of the people on the fence on this issue are Catholics and I think Joe Biden will help take the message to the Catholic community, I know that he will be able to do that. Some are older, in that undecided group, and we'll have to show that the difference between Democrats and Republicans on issues that relate to older Americans."

"Democrats are coming together. Democrats know what is at stake in this election, Democrats want to take the country in a new direction, and we are organized and unified to do just that," she said.

'You Go Out There and Fight'

Pelosi cautioned against victimizing Clinton, who fought a tough battle, indicating that the message women can glean from Clinton's loss is the importance of moving forward, and refusing to wallow in defeat.

"I think that women, we have to get away from the politics of victim. This is about you go out there and you fight," she said. "I think that what Hillary Clinton did was tremendous for the country. She has kicked open many doors, which now we have to bring many more women through, millions more women through. My being speaker of the House was breaking the marble ceiling in Congress, which is hard. Sen. Clinton [had] a bigger challenge to run for president of the United States. What we have to do now is say, we have to translate that not just for individuals, but for all women."

It's expected that both Obama and Clinton's name will be placed into nomination followed by a state-by-state vote devised to appease disappointed Clinton supporters. Clinton has said that she will vote for Obama but will not tell her delegates how to vote. Some Clinton insiders, however, told ABC News that the vote may not happen because of fears that such a display might disrupt the party's long-sought attempts at unity.

So far, it appears as though the roll call vote is still on.

"I most certainly think that calling roll over the states is an important piece of tradition. It's part of our culture. As you say, sometimes, people say it might not look as clean and neat as some people would like, but so what. It's the democratic way. We will come out unified and organized. The person that deserves all the credit is Sen. Clinton because her statements have been absolutely great. She's a pro. She knows what's important for our country. Her leadership will be something very commendable coming out of this convention," Pelosi said Sunday.

Pelosi also said that she believes both Clinton and former President Clinton are on board to support Obama.

"President Clinton knows, probably better than anybody, what's at stake in this country and what a difference it would make. This is Barack Obama's convention. He selected Joe Biden as the nominee," she said. "We have to recognize the significant contribution that was made by Sen. Clinton and following her lead, we have to move forward and select Barack Obama as the nominee."

Pelosi is in many ways "the other woman" of the Democratic Party. While Hillary Clinton has enormous star power, Pelosi is the highest female elected official in American history. She reflected on her own experiences as a woman in politics, sharing a story she tells in her new book, "Know Your Power: A Message to America's Daughters."

Pelosi, who has five children and seven grandchildren, told Moran that when she first came to Congress 21 years ago, people were very concerned about who was taking care of her children, despite the fact that all were out of the house except one.

"What I say to these young women is your work in politics is an extension of your responsibilities as a mom -- to make the world a better place. So many things that all children need, better policies so that they can thrive. So who's taking care of the children? I'm taking care of the children."

'There Isn't Anything That's Been Improved in This Administration'

Emphasizing the country's need for change, Pelosi called President Bush's decision to veto a bill that would have provided health insurance to 10 million children "immoral." Neither Bush nor McCain supported the bill citing lack of funding.

"There are real differences here. This isn't about who and what, it's about what the policy is and what it means to the lives of the American people," she said. "We have a lot at stake in this election. The harm that the Bush administration has done to our country, whether it's the war without end in Iraq, what it's done to the economy, the growth of the deficit. What it's done to the credit and mortgage crisis, the energy crisis. You name it, there isn't anything that's been improved in this administration. We must turn this around and take the country in a new direction. I'll leave it to the academics and later I'll see what happened and analyze it, but right now we're in a fight."

Americans remain divided between McCain and Obama, despite polls indicating America's dissatisfaction with the Republican Party as well as with Bush, currently one of the least popular presidents in history. Pelosi remains confident that Obama is ahead because new voters will be coming out on Election Day, ones that haven't yet been counted in the latest polls.

"Barack Obama is ahead in the states, by and large, that he needs to be ahead in. These polls are polls of what are called likely voters. Likely voters are people who have voted in the last two elections," she said. "Millions more people attracted by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and some of the other people to the political process who know we need change in our country. They will be voting and many people who haven't voted in a while will be voting again. Who voted in the last election is one measure, as long as Barack Obama is even or ahead in that number, I'm confidant in what the new voters will add to his count."

Although the Democratic Party rejected Clinton this year, Pelosi said she hopes future women leaders are inspired by her journey, and that of Pelosi herself.

"People said to me, 'How did you go from housewife to House speaker, from the kitchen to the Congress?' Rather than respond to it over and over again, I wrote it down [in the book 'Know Your Power.'] I also wrote it as a message to America's daughters, so they would feel comfortable and have the confidence to come forward and to be part of the political and governmental affairs of our country. As I've said, nothing is more wholesome that increased participation by women in the political process."

Despite the disappointment felt by some Clinton supporters, Pelosi said it's an exciting time for Democrats.

"To nominate a woman to be president of the U.S. or to nominate an African-American to be president of the U.S., it's quite remarkable and says a great deal about our country and certainly about the Democratic Party," Pelosi said.

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