Transcript: Speaker Nancy Pelosi Speaks to ABC's Diane Sawyer

In wide ranging post-election interview, Pelosi says she has "no regrets."

ByABC News
November 3, 2010, 7:22 PM

Nov. 3, 2010— -- The day after an historic election that will return the House of Representatives to Republican control, Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke with ABC's Diane Sawyer about the results. Here is a transcipt of their conversation, which has been edited for clarity:

DIANE SAWYER: Madame Speaker, you woke up. What kind of day is it?

SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI: Well, what kind of day have you been having? How is your day? It's been a day that is, of course, respectful of the will of the American people. For those of us who are engaged in government, in politics, know who's boss, and that is, that is the American people. And so, we hear a message from them.

It's also a day where, though, 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. But I know they'll continue to contribute to society, it's just lost to the Congress.

DIANE SAWYER: What is it to look up and see name after name after name going by, people who stood up, who stood up and voted in the crunch, and see their political lives over for the moment? What do you say to them on the phone?

NANCY PELOSI: Well, what they had said to me on the phone is they are very proud of what they have done. They know, for example, in passing health care, and Wall Street reform and other initiatives, that they've done what is right for the American people. Special pride in the health care bill, because it's so historic.

And one of them said it more, most eloquently, but similar sentiment expressed by others. He said, "If I have to go into another line of work because I have voted to give this opportunity for health care for Americans, so be it. I'm proud of what I have done."

DIANE SAWYER: The President used the word shellacking in the press conference. What's the first word that comes to your mind?

NANCY PELOSI: Well, I guess that's, that probably is a good word. But I, I would say a very disappointing result. And not being as colorful as he is in that description. But it, it was, it was a tough loss. Especially since so many of the races were so very close, within the margin of differences, it was just a very few. And that's why we thought there was still an opportunity to win.

DIANE SAWYER: Truly surprised you?

NANCY PELOSI: The size? Yes. Yeah, I mean, it-- no, it didn't surprise me that it was possible. I was hopeful that, that some of the very close races would fall our way. Some did, not enough. Maybe about 20 races-- 20 to 25 races-- fell the other way. Fifteen or 20 of them fell our way, but that wasn't enough.

DIANE SAWYER: What did the President say to you and you to him?

NANCY PELOSI: Well, I don't usually discuss my conversations with the President, but you can just imagine that it was a call in which I had spoken to him twice yesterday, earlier in the day, and then in the evening. And, and we expressed pride in the work that we had done, sadness over the loss of the members who would not be returning. But again, no regrets about the health care for all Americans, consumer protections of an historic nature, Wall Street reform, the list goes on-- as to the agenda that we've put forth.

Progress wasn't fast enough. And that's really what the challenge is. Now we look forward to working with the Republicans. They say they have some ideas on job creation. We had hoped they would've suggested them before. They just said no. Now, we look forward to, we know just say no doesn't work. We, we want to hear what they have to say.

DIANE SAWYER: What are you going to do next?

NANCY PELOSI: That is-- what I'm talking to-- well, first of all, today, I'm talking to my members-- who courageously fought the fight, carried the banner, took the tough votes, and-- made the decision-- for the American people, to fight for the middle class. That's what I'm doing today. When I-- when I'm towards the end of doing that, I'll start thinking about what I do next. But it's never been about me. It's about how our caucus goes forward to fight, continue our fight for the middle class.

DIANE SAWYER: Are the odds you'll stay?

NANCY PELOSI: I'm-- I'm-- as I said to you, we-- in our caucus, we always do things by consensus. And when we have that consensus, we'll have some announcement to make.

DIANE SAWYER: And do you feel you would have the support to be minority leader?

NANCY PELOSI: Well, I-- as I said, when we-- I don't want to speak for my caucus at this time. But I-- when we make that decision together then we'll have an announcement about it.

DIANE SAWYER: Have you talked to your family about it?

NANCY PELOSI: Again-- understand, this result is not 24 hours old. And I-- always believe that there was a way that we could win if some of these very close races fell our way. And they were falling our way. $100 million approximately of outside money weighed in in those races, and changed the atmosphere in the last couple of weeks. That's all to say we weren't anticipating losing. We knew it was a possibility, but I never discussed that possibility with my family.

So, we didn't discuss what it would mean to me. We-- we were mostly interested obviously in what it would mean to the American people. And that's what's important. To stay focused on that. Whatever our decisions-- that any of us have to be on what's in the best interest of the American people. People talk about communication, the best communication for somebody who has-- who has economic uncertainty is a job. And that's what our focus has to be now. Jobs. More job creation faster.

DIANE SAWYER: Everyone-- everyone assumes that the crucible moment that you look and you say, "Here is the lesson I learned." What would you have done differently? What should you have done differently?

NANCY PELOSI: Well as-- there's nothing I could do about 9.5 percent unemployment. Some people say, well you should've made sure everybody knew that this was a result of the Bush administration. And we were moving to change that. It didn't come fast enough.

I really don't like to look back so much. This is about looking forward. And we feel very confident about the decisions that we made, that are in the interest of reducing the deficit, creating jobs, enabling American people to reach their fulfillment with the liberation they get from having health care, the consumer protections that they have. That their health security, about their economic securities, about their personal security. And we believe we've made the right decisions in that regard. Should we have been talking about it more, and working on it less, that-- that's a question. I believe we came here to get a job done. And that's what we did.