Exclusive: Pelosi Says Democrats Have 'Very Good Chance' to Win Back the House in 2012
Former speaker says Dems have 'very good chance' to retake House.
June 2, 2011 -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told ABC News in an exclusive interview that Democrats "have a very good chance of winning the House" majority in the 2012 elections, pointing to Medicare as the key issue that could propel her party back into control of the lower chamber of Congress.
"We just take it, as I say to the members, one day, one good day, one good week, one good month, one good quarter at a time," said Pelosi, D-Calif., in an interview for ABC News' Subway Series with Jonathan Karl.
Pelosi discussed a wide array of subjects, ranging from military withdrawal in Afghanistan and Libya to the controversy surrounding Rep. Anthony Weiner's Twitter account and the timing of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' return to Capitol Hill.
Asked directly whether she thinks she will be elected speaker again, Pelosi pointed to 63 congressional districts that President Obama carried in 2008 that are now held by Republicans. House Democrats need to win just 24 of those seats to regain control of the House.
"It takes a strong message ... which enables us to have the mobilization at grass-roots level," Pelosi said. "I was talking about the M's: message, mobilization, the money to get the message out, and management -- management of the campaign by the candidates so that it can be effective.
"What we're about is policy," she added. "What we want is to change the view that the Republicans have that it is OK to abolish Medicare [and] to make seniors pay more for less while we give tax breaks to big oil. That's not a formula that I think works for the middle class."
Pelosi said that cuts to seniors' benefits are "absolutely" off the table in the ongoing deficit reduction negotiations, but suggested that Congress could improve Medicare by working to eliminate fraud and also by giving the Secretary of Health and Human Services unilateral authority to negotiate for lower prices for the endangered entitlement program.
"When you talk about Medicare, the first thing I would do if I ruled the world would be to allow the secretary of HHS to negotiate for lower prices. That would save tens of billions of dollars," Pelosi said. "The last place we need to go -- we don't ever have to go there -- is to what the Republicans are doing: Eliminate Medicare [and] make seniors pay more for less as you give tax breaks to big oil and say that's how we have to reduce the deficit. We don't subscribe to that."
Pelosi said the election in 2012 "is not about Paul Ryan [the architect of the Republicans' budget and Medicare proposals]. It is about the Republicans in Congress."
"I wish we could change minds of Republicans on abolishing Medicare," she said. "The public is going to have to help us do that either before the election or at the time of the election.
"If the Republicans are convinced of that over the next 18 months, that they will change their mind on it, then that is less of an issue in the campaign," she said. "We'd rather solve the problem than have the issue. But we are determined to fight for the issue."