Exclusive: Speaker Nancy Pelosi Says She Has 'No Regrets'

Pelosi tells Diane Sawyer she hasn't thought about her future yet.

November 3, 2010, 3:09 PM

Nov. 3, 2010 — -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said today she has "no regrets" one day after a Republican landslide stripped her of the power that defined her historic tenure as the first female speaker of the House.

The California Democrat, who won a new two-year term in Tuesday's election, said she has yet to consider what she will do now.

"I'll have a conversation with my caucus, I'll have a conversation with my family, and pray over it, and decide how to go forward," she said in an exclusive ABC News interview with "World News" anchor Diane Sawyer. "But today isn't that day."

Watch Diane Sawyer's exclusive interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on "World News" tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET

Pelosi became the first female House speaker in 2007. But after Republicans retook the house on Election Day Tuesday, she will be handing over her speaker's gavel, likely the current House minority leader, John Boehner, R-Ohio.

"Being the first woman speaker and breaking the marble ceiling is pretty important," she told ABC News. "Now it's time to move on."

Pelosi said she had "no regrets" after losing her position as the most powerful woman in American politics and said the country's unemployment problem was to blame for the Democrats' loss.

"We believe we did the right thing, and we worked very hard in our campaigns to convey that to the American people," she said. "Nine and a half percent unemployment is a very eclipsing event. If people don't have a job, they're not too interested in how you intend for them to have a job. They want to see results."

Asked to assess her tenure, Pelosi quickly answered, "Job well done."

She said it's now Boehner's job to produce results and described him as a friend.

"He knows that I wish him well personally," Pelosi said. "And for the American people, I wish him well in his work as well."

Nancy Pelosi Says She Didn't Take Dems' Loss Personally

Allies and critics say Pelosi's legacy will be as much about the position she held as the sweeping agenda that she pursue.

From the Capitol, she led her party's efforts to overhaul the health care system, increase the minimum wage, reform the regulation of Wall Street and stimulate the economy. At times Pelosi pushed through intense Republican opposition.

More than any other Democrat other than President Obama, Pelosi became the face of GOP attack ads. Michael Steele, the Republican National Committee chairman, campaigned around the country in a bus plastered with the slogan, "Fire Pelosi."

At an election night rally in downtown Washington, Steele said: "We're about to do the one thing the American people want done and that is to fire Pelosi."

Pelosi said she didn't take it personally.

"They have used me as a personification of health care and the rest," she told Sawyer. "I take that as a compliment."

When pressed by Sawyer whether she ever in private felt "bruised" by the attacks, Pelosi said, "Well let me tell you, when I get time for that, I'll call you and I'll let you know how it feels. Because first of all I haven't had a moment alone to even think about myself. And second of all, it's a luxury at this time and that I can't afford."

She said she was affected, however, by the defeat of so many Democratic colleagues.

"We're sad about some of the losses of members of great seniority and distinction in the Congress, and some very new members, who will no longer be serving with us," Pelosi said. "It's just lost to the Congress."

She conceded she was surprised by the magnitude of the Democratic loss and thought that as many as 20 close elections were going to go Democratic.

"They were falling our way and $100 million approximately weighed in in those races and changed the atmosphere in last couple of weeks," she said.

With the 2010 election over, she said that the Democrats are ready to regroup and made a plea for cooperation.

"Let's just do what is right for the American people. And those of us who are involved in politics and government know that our responsibility is to the American people, that we have a responsibility to find our common ground, to seek it and to find it."

Republicans reacted to the news, predicting that if Pelosi is successful in her run for minority leader, it will lead to more House Democrats going down in the 2012 elections.

"Given that there are now 60-plus defeated Democrat House members urgently seeking jobs due to Nancy Pelosi's failed leadership, we welcome her decision to run for House Minority Leader based on her proven ability to create jobs for Republican lawmakers," Ken Spain, communications director at the National Republican Congressional Committee, said. "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. Of course, if House Democrats are willing to sacrifice more of their members in 2012 for the glory of Nancy Pelosi, we are happy to oblige them."