JOHN SHATTUCK: Good evening and welcome to this special midsummer night’s dream program at the Kennedy Library. I’m John Shattuck, CEO of the Kennedy Library Foundation, and on behalf of Paul Kirk, our distinguished Chair, Chairman of the Board of the Kennedy Library, is here with us tonight and you’ll hear from him a little bit later and the many Kennedy Library Foundation board members who are also here and my colleague Tom Putnam, Director of the Kennedy Library and Museum, I’d like to thank all of you for coming on this beautiful evening.
We’re joined tonight by several very special guests, and I want to especially welcome Ted Kennedy Jr. and his wife, Dr. Katherine Kennedy. I also want to recognize Justice Steven Breyer of the Supreme Court of the United States. [applause/standing ovation] I think you can see Justice Breyer, they beat me to my line. I was going to ask you to rise and thank you for your steadfast service to the rule of law.
I want to give special thanks to the friends and institutions that make these forums possible, starting with Bank of America, the lead sponsor of our Kennedy Library Forum Series, represented tonight at the highest level. And you will hear from her in a moment, Boston’s own Anne Finucane, whom we all thank for all you do for the Kennedy Library. Thank you, Anne. I also want to thank Boston Capital, represented here tonight by its founder and president, Jack Manning, my friend who serves on our board. Thank you so much, Jack.
We’re also grateful to the Lowell Institute, the Corcoran Jennison Companies and the Boston Foundation along with our media partners: the Boston Globe, New England Cable News and WBUR which broadcasts all of our forums on Sunday evenings at eight.
Well, I think you’d never know that we’re in the middle of New England’s vacation season from the enormous turnout here tonight. I think everyone postponed their vacations, Madame Speaker, when they got wind of your visit. And it’s a great honor for me personally to welcome back to the Kennedy Library someone I’ve known and greatly admired for many years, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, our country’s third highest officeholder, the honorable Nancy Pelosi. And you’ll hear a longer introduction later. [applause]
I also want to welcome back to the Kennedy Library my friend and former state department colleague, tonight’s moderator Ambassador Swanee Hunt. Swanee is the founding director of the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government where she teaches inclusive security. And from 1993 to 1997 she served with great distinction as Ambassador to Austria. And she’s the author of many books and it’s great to have you back here tonight, Swanee. [applause]
It’s now my great privilege to call to the podium to introduce Speaker Pelosi one of Boston’s finest leaders and first citizens, our own distinguished Kennedy Library Board member Anne Finucane. Anne is the Northeast President of Bank of America but I think many of you know that that only begins to tell the story. She’s in charge not only of the bank’s operations throughout the Northeast but also its nationwide marketing, communications, advertising and research, as well as its philanthropic and community development activities across the United States and Europe. And among her many public service responsibilities is chairing the Bank of America’s Environmental Council which is a 20 billion dollar environmental initiative.
And here at the Kennedy Library, Anne, you are always generous with your expertise and support in helping us connect President Kennedy’s legacy with the great issues and challenges of our time. So please join me in welcoming Anne Finucane to the podium of the Kennedy Library.
ANNE FINUCANE: Thank you John, and good afternoon or good evening everybody. I was very glad to see Justice Breyer. I had the occasion to meet him once before, and I nervously approached him and told him I worked at the Bank of America and did he have any words of wisdom and he said, “Yes, improve your statements.” True story. [laughter]
It’s a great pleasure to introduce the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and welcome you back to Boston and to the Library. The city is brimming with energy tonight not only from Madame Speaker here with us at the Library, but as you know in another part of town Barack Obama is celebrating his 47th birthday. So this city is ablaze. [applause]
Nancy Pelosi’s life bears many parallels to the family honored here by this Library. She hails from a large political family, steeped in public service, nourished by her family and her faith and committed to a better world for all of us. There are aspects of Nancy’s life that have been well chronicled. Speaker Pelosi won her first Congressional Seat representing California’s Eighth district, which is most of San Francisco, in 1987.
She graduated from Trinity College. She’s been married to Paul Pelosi, a native of San Francisco, for more than 45 years. She has five grown children and seven grandchildren. But there’s so much more, of course. You will learn in her book, Know Your Power: A Message to America’s Daughters, that she credits her success among other things not only to her hardworking commitment to her constituents, but to her life growing up as the youngest of seven children and the only girl. Her late father, Thomas D’Alessandro, was mayor of the city of Baltimore for 12 years and before that a congressman from the district for five terms. Over those years she grew up accustomed to seeing people file into the house, past the portraits of Roosevelt and Truman, to request help in finding a job for medical care, for their children or home. She also experienced the role her mother,
Nancy, played as her father’s trusted advisor and encouraging her, a mentor to her daughter. Speaker Pelosi also credits the organizational skills she learned herself as a mother. Her reputation on the Hill bears testament to that and I'll just sort of name a few I thought of as I read the book: someone who never sleeps; is everywhere at once; always has detailed command of the issues and knows the rules of the House better than anyone else. Clearly, the skills she has learned raising five children have proven to be transferable. Years ago, I attended a wedding of her good friends, Alicia and Vince Wolfington. Their daughter, Joanie, was getting married. It was not only that the Congresswoman Pelosi -- then Congresswoman Pelosi -- made it to the wedding. Congress had maybe been out of session for all of 12 hours, but she arrived, stood next to her friend and then organized a brunch for 200 without skipping a beat.
In Congress, she has achieved a distinguished record of intelligence and security initiatives, family and child policy, health care, human rights and environmental policy and, of course, the first woman in our nation’s history to hold a distinction of Speaker of the House. [applause]
When Nancy Pelosi became Speaker of the House she said, although a significant accomplishment -- and I quote, “I never felt it was a personal victory; rather I see it as a pivotal moment for all women. When I became Speaker it was American women who made history that day.” To honor the women who have come before her and to inspire those that will follow, she has written Know Your Power: A Message to America’s Daughters. The book is on sale, by the way, in the museum store. We’re always thinking here, and the Speaker will be available to sign copies downstairs in the pavilion afterwards, so thank you for that. Just on a personal note, I read the book over the weekend. It’s just fabulous, but I recommend to everyone Chapter Seven, Organize, Don’t Agonize for men, women and children alike. Believe me, it’s some great life lessons for all of us, and thank you, Swanee, for doing this. You’re so accomplished in your own right. With that, I welcome Speaker Nancy Pelosi and I hand it to you, Swanee. Thanks.
SWANEE HUNT: Thank you. This is the book, all right. This is the book. I read it. I read it again. This is the book. You want to get. It’s not just about your copy. It’s about Christmas is coming. There are, I’m serious about this, you all, there are probably 50 people you know who would love to get this book from you. And it’s really important that you get this book. They’re going to sell out very soon. That stock is going to be gone but you can order it. So don’t forget, okay? You saw it here. You heard it here.
Oh, what a pleasure. I was really happy. By the way, this is interactive, so if you have questions, you can pass them over to the aisles and after a while we’re going to -- there’s Amy holding up cards, so raise your hands at some point and they’ll get you a card etc. And then I'll have those to ask some questions from.
When my husband Charles Ansbacher, who’s a symphony conductor, was in Vienna and he was about to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic, he asked another conductor because this is a big deal. Big, big deal. He said, “Well, can you give me any tips before I go in to conduct?” And the other conductor said, “Lift your baton and then get out of the way.” And so that’s what I intend to do.
I’ve lifted the book. I’m going to get out of the way. This woman knows how to tell stories. And we don’t get these stories when we turn on C-SPAN. It’s a whole different side of you. I feel like we can just open it anywhere and start but let me ask you, I was particularly taken with this inside view of you growing up in this family. I don’t want to say too much because I’d like for you to describe it: what it was like as a girl? What were your parents like? Who were they and how did that all have an impact on you?
NANCY PELOSI: Well, personally, I thank you, Swanee, for doing me the honor of moderating our discussion here this evening. I’m Speaker of the House in large measure because of your efforts to promote women in politics and in society that is inclusive. So thank you for your leadership. [applause] And my friend Paul Kirk and John Shattuck, whom I’ve known for years as well, and the Mannings. I’m so honored that they are here. Anne Finucane, thank you for your warm introduction. To my friends, the Wolfingtons, who are here with the Healys. I mean this is a family affair for us and what an honor that Justice Breyer is having his book night out to share it with us this evening. Thank you, Tom. Thank all of you for making this evening possible.
I’m very honored to be any place that Paul Kirk is and to be at the Kennedy Library. It’s really a thrill for me. When I was growing up in Baltimore, when I was born, my father was a Congressperson from Baltimore. When I was in first grade, he was elected the mayor of Baltimore, and when I went away to college he was still the mayor of Baltimore, so it was the only life that I led. I was the youngest child, the only daughter after six sons. One of my brothers passed away as a child so I was raised with five older brothers, something that I highly recommend. [laughter]
How was it? It was great. They were wonderful to me and prepared me for what would come later even though I didn’t know it, being surrounded by all of those boys at the time and then men.
Anne alluded to it, rather she mentioned it. When I was a little girl, I knew how to tell somebody who to call to get on welfare, into a project, a bed in the city hospital. You name it. That’s what our home was about and how it ties to being here tonight which is, to be at the Kennedy Library is such a thrill for me under these circumstances. I’ve been here before but not under these circumstances.
When I was in high school and grade school, but particularly in high school, our nuns -- many of them Irish Catholic, many from Boston -- always told us stories of the Kennedy family, that they were so proud of coming from Massachusetts and the good Ambassador and Mrs. Rose Kennedy and the story of the next generation and that this young Senator could one day be President of the United States. And so I mention that because my father and my mother would always be going out, he as Mayor and she would accompany him. One night Senator Kennedy -- Senator mind you -- Senator Kennedy, how long ago was this, was speaking at an event in Baltimore, the United Nations Association, so my mother knew I really wanted to go so she said she wasn’t feeling well. So I went in her place and her place was sitting next to the guest of honor, Senator John F. Kennedy. Well, the nuns were out of their minds! [laughter] I could do no wrong, and while I was there sitting at the head table talking to Senator Kennedy, some young people from high school, my age, came over to me and said, “We’re from the United Nations Association of High School Students” -- of which I was a member. “We’d like to invite you to sit at our table.” What do I do? I’m usually so courteous and accept that lovely invitation but, Teddy, it just wasn’t going to happen so I said to them, “I’d be so honored but I’m taking my mother’s place tonight, and I couldn’t possibly leave this empty seat. “ [laughter]
But that was my introduction to this great family and, Teddy, I’m so honored that you are here this evening. Thank you so much. I’m just associating with the Kennedy Library now.
If you want to know more about my youth, I'll tell you about it. It was the era of Elvis Presley, cling-on skirts, cinch belts, Peter Pan collars, circle pins, charm bracelets and an occasional -- but they tell me not to say this -- an occasional cashmere sweater set. Does anybody … no, you’re too young. But read in the history books and you will read about it. It was my youth. So in 1960 when we went to the convention -- I went with my parents to the convention. It was the most exciting thing. Here we bring out the first Catholic presidential candidate, nominee for president of the United States. It was very thrilling in every respect, and I'll go into more detail if you want later. But one of the things that happened that night -- which speaks to my family situation -- is we went to the L.A. Coliseum to see President Kennedy deliver his speech, and it was so fabulous -- tens of thousands of people there. I see the great Chairman Johnson of the Massachusetts Democratic Party is here. You read about this in the history books too, but I was there. I was there. Anyway, the speech is fantastic. So I said to my father and mother -- we’re doing all this political stuff when we’re over there-- I would like to go to a Hollywood spot when we’re there so I found out that I wanted to go to this place called Romanoff’s, which is a very expensive restaurant in Hollywood or someplace in Hollywood down there and that would be my treat, that would be my special occasion, in addition to the politics. So we go to the restaurant after the L.A. Coliseum, the stadium and we’re sitting in the restaurant. They bring the menus.
My father says, “Wow, look at these prices. How did you ever find this place? Why are we here?” And I said, “Well, this is Hollywood, and it costs a lot of money here.” But it was very expensive. And my friends to this day say, “You really did take them to an expensive restaurant.” But the point being that the door opens and in walks John F. Kennedy and his entourage and all of a sudden this place was perfect. It was perfect.
[laughter] He came right over the table. “Mr. Mayor, how are you? Thanks for all you’re doing to help and all the rest.” I had on this big pin that said “Youth for Kennedys.” Oh, it was so exciting. We could hardly … and the prices just seemed to melt. They just seemed to melt. But it was pretty exciting. Anyway, to bring us to tonight. I was packing to come up here and then go on to … I’m not going back to Washington until the convention. Yes, Republicans, I’m not going back until the convention. Right from the corner of my drawer came this little pin which was a pin that I got at the 1960 Democratic Convention. It says Kennedy on top of a donkey. Some of you I met earlier probably thought I was wearing a democratic donkey pin. I was, but this is a pin that I got at the 1960 Democratic Convention. Can you imagine that all of a sudden my guardian angel said, “Look over into this corner of the drawer on this day,” which I hadn’t noticed in a long time so I thought it was fate. That’s all I can say is I’m absolutely thrilled to death to be here because this family and this president and the whole family have been such an inspiration to our country for so many years, and it continues, of course, to this day with Senator Kennedy and my colleague Patrick Kennedy in the House and the entire family in the public and private sector. So, again, it’s an honor for me and I'll tell you one more Kennedy story later, after the election was won.
That’s what our family was. It was all about campaigns and politics. That’s the only life we knew, public service as a noble calling. We were devoutly Catholic, staunchly Democratic, proud of our Italian-American heritage and fiercely patriotic, loving America. And that whole combination of things made it necessary for us to serve the public, compelling us to serve the public and to do so in a way that saw a spark of divinity in every person and that we were all God’s children. So that was the inspiration that I had as a child, to be a person who would support other people who wanted to serve in public office, never thinking that I would be one of those people.
So my route is very unpredictable and an unplanned one, and I’m sure we’ll talk about it in the course of the evening. But don’t you like this pin? [laughter] I thought the library might want to ask me for it. I’m not ready yet.
SWANEE HUNT: You talk in the book, and so I think it’s okay for me to go there because you’ve also mentioned it several times now about the religious background, the faith. And late last night I was on the Huffington Post and I was looking around and not asking you to comment on this, this Obama part, but there was one leader in the Evangelical movement who has identified him now as the anti-Christ, which is this whole Armageddon scene. And then others, all the virile stuff about how he’s a Muslim. It reminds me of being in Dallas -- where I’m from -- during the Kennedy campaign and we said we’re going to have -- if Kennedy’s elected -- he’s going to have this hotline that goes directly to the Pope, etc. So it’s really interesting the role of faith, and could you talk some about that because you are a woman of great faith and what kind of experiences did you have around that, that turned that into a positive force when we see so many examples of how faith is used in a negative way.
NANCY PELOSI: Well, it is. It’s something because we as a country and people value faith and respect our own faith and the faith of others, except when they don’t, when they use it as an excuse to be against someone and I think, well I won’t go into the campaign, but if pushed I certainly will.
Let me just say this because it is, I mean people of faith, who are deeply people of faith, my family was very, very devout and our Catholicism was central to who we were and if you have that respect for your own faith, you therefore naturally have that respect for someone else’s respect for their own faith, if this is all sincere.
When I was nominated to be Speaker of the House -- this had happened behind closed doors -- the Democratic Caucus elects its leadership and then you’re nominated and the Speaker has to be elected on the floor of the House but the nomination is by the Democratic Caucus. The election is in the entire Congress. Of course, it’s a straight party line vote, but nonetheless the entire Congress votes on the speaker. And so when I was nominated, I went up … To tell you the truth, Paul [addressing Paul Kirk, former chair of the Democratic Party], we weren’t even finished with our election yet. It was only a week after the election. We were still, Mr. Chairman you remember this, we still hadn’t finished all of our races. Jack, [addressing Jack Manning] I know you know because we were still calling you for help. And so I hadn’t really prepared myself for it. I was still trying to make sure we won these other races.
Anyway, I get nominated, go up to accept the nomination and the Chair of the Caucus-- Rahm Emanuel -- who was very much a leader in our winning back the House was then elected the chair of the Caucus and he said to me as I came forward, he kissed me, and said, “Your parents would be so proud.” ‘Your parents would be so proud,’ and in that instant I was taken to Baltimore, to our home and I thought, well, my parents would be so proud. They didn’t raise me to be Speaker of the House. They raised me to be holy, to be good and that was their measure of what they would be happy about.
Of course, as a former member of Congress and near Baltimore and the rest of that, of course they would be proud that I was Speaker of the House but they wouldn’t be disappointed if I were not. And it was stunning to me because I thought this is very central to who I am and who they were and we think that other people of faith must feel that way about their own religion. And if they’re true to that, they couldn’t possibly say the things that they say.
Now, I remember full well when, Vince, [addressing Vince Wolfington] you remember, Vince Wolfington, we were in the same -- he was at Georgetown, I was at Trinity. Vince and my husband were roommates in college. Vince is much younger. My daughter Nancy is here with us. But those comments they would make about he’s going to call the Pope and he’s going to do this and that. People said those without any shame, without any shame. It was what they said and so that made the victory even more spectacular, not because he was a Catholic but because he was who he was and the values and talent and all that he would bring to the presidency, and once also put to rest the matter of whether a Catholic could be President of the United States.
It’s interesting to me now because people just fall over themselves trying to get to the Pope when he comes to town. And people talk about consulting with religious leaders as a sign of genuineness in terms of faith but it was very different at that time. Thank God, thank God that has changed but Swanee makes an excellent point. There’s always subterfuge. People say one thing when they really mean another, and we have to make sure that this is an election about issues because everything is at stake in this election. But again, I don’t want to go too far down the path of talking about the political campaign unless of course someone asks about it. [laughter]
SWANEE HUNT: Let me ask you, what do you think about the political campaign? [laughter]
NANCY PELOSI: Well, shortly after the election of 1960, we had the inauguration and that was so spectacular. As warm as it was in July in the open Coliseum it was that freezing cold. Nobody is old enough to have been there. Is it just me? Mr. Healy, the two of us? Has it just come down to us? Vince, you were there. We were students. We were students. Okay, we were students, we were students, we were students. We were not that old, but we were there.
Well, on the steps, freezing cold, my father being a former member of Congress had great seats, not too far from where the President was. So we used his tickets and went there.
Anyway, President Kennedy gave this incredible speech. You know the ending: “God’s work will truly be our own.” It was the most beautiful speech but in the speech -- and this reminds me of Obama and his trip overseas -- in his speech, you all know because you’ve read it in the history books that President Kennedy said to the citizens of America, “Ask not what our country can do for you, but what you can do for our country.” Everybody remembers that, right? We don’t remember it, but you read about it, right? But do you remember and do you know that the very next line in the speech, the very next line -- and I always remember this -- the very next line President Kennedy said to the citizens of the world? “Ask not what America can do for you, but what we can do working together for the freedom of man-kind.” I add ‘kind’ but it was freedom of man in those days. And this is about, this is, should be our clarion call: what we can do working together for freedom, about cooperation, collaboration and respect for each other, not condescension, disrespect, my way or the highway. And so this tour that Senator Obama took about extending the hand of friendship which was embraced by the people of the countries he visited is very important in terms of America reassuming its leadership role in the world.
And when I saw him there, it reminded me -- not because he had been to Germany or anything like that -- it reminded me of what President Kennedy said at that time. So this is about something much loftier than the silliness of whatever that commercial is. I really haven’t seen it myself. It’s not about that. It’s about who we are as a nation and how we lift the country up and that debate should be worthy of the office of President of the United States.
Now having said that, I think it’s a very urgent election. Every time you hear people say, “This election is more important than any other election.” This is a very important election. Close your ears, Justice Breyer. Nothing less is at stake: the planet, the economy, housing, energy policy, the deficit, the budget, the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the United States. [applause]
So later if you ask, I'll tell you what we intend to do when we win, but this is a very important election. So what would you want to do if you were on the wrong end of all of those things? You would want to change the subject. You want to talk about silliness of movie stars or whatever it is that was in that commercial. You don’t want anybody talking about the issues. You want to talk about drilling offshore in protected areas instead of a real energy policy that takes our country into the next generation of a new economy where we can invest in renewable energy resources: wind, solar, bio-fuels and the rest. But if we say the answer is drilling offshore in protected areas, then we are changing the subject from where the answer really is.
And if the private sector is supposed to invest in these things, they have to know that public policy is going down that path as well because this all has to be public-private.
But, again, more on that later. It’s just that this is two different paths that we’re going down. One is back to the past and the other is into the future and more on that later if you ask about it, but it’s a very, very important election.
I fully intend to increase my numbers in the House of Representatives and strengthen members who are there, so that we have an assured confident majority to work with the next president of the United States, Barack Obama. Is that allowed? [applause]
SWANEE HUNT: So you’re thinking all the time about pipelines and how you get the right people being elected at every level. Tell us a little about how you got into the pipe and then maybe how you reflect on that as you encourage others.
NANCY PELOSI: Before I do, I want to say I’m sure Ambassador Hunt is aware of that inspiration that President Kennedy was because whether she knew that line or not, certainly her service to our country, her leadership as was mentioned by John Shattuck, she served with great distinction, representing our country and we thank you for that. [applause]
So I had these five babies in six years, almost to the day. The week Nancy turned six, we had our fifth baby, Alexandra. Four girls and one boy -- Wolfington’s godson, Paul Jr. and my goddaughter Joanie is here tonight. So we had these five babies in six years. We live in San Francisco, which is where Paul was born and raised and we had … well, read my book and you’ll see what was going on. [laughter]
But in any event, one day I get a phone call from Mayor Alioto who was my neighbor, also he was Mayor at the same time my brother, Tommy, was mayor of Baltimore and so they were friends and this and that. Paul grew up with some of the Mayor’s older children, so we all knew each other quite well. So I get the call. “Nancy, this is Joe Alioto, this is the Mayor. What are you doing? Making a great big pot of pasta fagioli?”
“No, Mr. Mayor, I’m reading the newspaper.” So he says … he was just sort of like my own family, my own father -- very progressive in politics but very conservative in terms of what goes on at home. So he said, “I want to appoint you to the library commission.” Now, this is one of the lessons I want to teach young women. “I want to appoint you to the library commission.” “No,” I say to Mr. Mayor. “I love the library, but I'll just be a volunteer. Why don’t you give the title to somebody else because I know it’s a very coveted position.” And it was. So, “No no no no, don’t tell me that. One day you may want to run for office and being a library commissioner is a good credential and da da da.” And I said, “I’m absolutely never, never running for office.” But, anyway, I went on the library commission. I loved it. I had an official role. People wanted to know what I thought, what my opinion was, but that was the beginning. Now, that’s Joe Alioto.
Several years later, Jerry Brown decides that he wants to run. He’s the newest governor of California, very charismatic. He was fabulous and almost Obama-like in the kind of appeal that he had to young people across America. So he said he wants to run for president, so our primary in California at that time, until recently, was in June, which meant that it would be all over, right Paul? By the time you get to California, we would have had a nominee for president and Jerry would not even be able to control his own party in the state. So I call him and Leo McCarthy, my dear friend. He was chair of Jerry’s campaign and said, “It’s going to be over by June.” But in Maryland the ballot says, the secretary of state has said - God bless you, God bless you - has said that if a candidate is an acknowledged candidate any place in America, in any state in America, then they are on the Maryland ballot unless they decide to take the name off the ballot.
So there it is. Maryland. So I called. Well, I say, well, let’s go Maryland. We are in Maryland da da da da.’ What are you talking about? Well, I said, at least we’ll get out there and make the fight. He does have this appeal. He’d been on 60 Minutes I guess, or something, and had some good interviews in magazines so there was a little bit of interest in Jerry Brown. And so I said to my brother Tommy -- who was now newly not the mayor of Baltimore and he retired from that -- and our friends there, “What about if we bring Jerry Brown to Maryland?”
To make a long story short, which is even too late to do that, but nonetheless to make it shorter, we go to Maryland. One week to set up, three weeks to campaign, and we win. We win, not just the popular vote, not delegates. You know the difference. But nonetheless, here we have Jimmy Carter coming out of a victory in Pennsylvania, which is big. And they said, “Well, if he wins in Pennsylvania it’s no use going to Maryland.” And I said, “No, no if he wins in Pennsylvania, we should go to Maryland, because then we really have an opportunity.” Think of it in reverse. I always think of it in reverse. Well, we won the campaign. The crowds turned out for Jerry Brown. We had to keep getting bigger rooms and larger venues and the rest. Do you remember this, Paul, when he came? And it was something stupendous and he won. So Jerry, we go back to California. Then he wins in Oregon. He wins in a number of states. Now, mind you, not picking up one delegate -- except for in California because it’s too late to do the delegate stuff -- but so we go to California and we have a huge victory welcome for the Governor back to the state from Maryland where he won and he gets up and says, “Nancy Pelosi was the architect of my Maryland campaign.” And then I went from the kitchen on my way to the Congress. I didn’t know it yet, but that was the day I became a member of the Democratic National Committee, a delegate to the convention.
When I called my father and said I was a member of the DNC, he had tears in his eyes. He said, “How could it be? You just moved there.” I said, “I’ve been here five years. That’s how long it takes.” In any event, then I later became the chair of the California Democratic Party. One thing and another and then, so that was like the drastic step. Right, Nancy [addressing her daughter]?
I mean, before then I was really a volunteer who helped my friends and stuff like that, but I knew politics but just hadn’t assumed any major responsibilities. So then I become Chair of the party, all that stuff in our state. And a few years later our congresswoman took very ill and she called me and said, “I want you to come to Washington.” I went there. She said, “I’m not going to seek reelection and I want you to run in my place.” I said, “Well, I’m not, I’m not, I’ve never, I have no interest, I’m actually a very shy person.” But that was then. And so I said, “Why are you asking me this? I have never expressed any desire to run for public office.” I’ve been there when I was a little girl. My whole life was in public office. “Oh, now, you have to, you’ll love it in the Congress.” One thing and another, boom boom boom. So I tell her … she said it would make her feel better if I told her I would consider doing this.
So I talked to my husband who says, “Do it if you want to? You have to really want it.” And that’s part of how I met you [addressing VIP in the audience]. You have to really want it. And then I went to our youngest daughter, Alexandra, who was the only one home; the other four were already away at college. Well, they were very close in age. And so I went to Alexandra and said, “Alexandra, Mommy has this opportunity to run for Congress. It doesn’t matter how it turns out, whatever you think is right, I’m happy either way. I have a wonderful life, but this opportunity is there and I have to give an answer right away and so, again, I just want to know what you think because you’d be a senior in high school.” One more year would have been better. And Alexandra, from the depths of her heart and with all the sincerity in the world said, “Mother, get a life.”
But I had never heard the expression before. This was 21 years ago. Get a life? I’m your mother. Get a life? What teenage girl wouldn’t want her mother out of town three or four days a week? [laughter]
So I got a life, a congressional life, and that was really quite serendipitous every step of the way in terms of what happened in Maryland. Who would have ever thought that we would win and then the Congresswoman from San Francisco was only in office about two terms. Her husband had passed away, and they were giants in politics in California and in San Francisco and in the Congress. So then I went there without any intention ever of running for leadership. I thought I’d stay maybe ten years and then that would be it and go home. And then one thing led to another and so … but we’ll go into that later, the Speaker of the House.
SWANEE HUNT: There’s so much that we could unpack from these stories. For one thing, a lot of people who would look at you would say, “Oh, I could never do that because she clearly had this goal, and she was able to figure out how to manipulate the pieces of her life to get to that goal.” And what you’re describing is quite different. It’s following this term and then that one happens and it’s so relational. Also, so many times you’ve talked about: And then he said to me this, and then he said to me that, and then she said to me this, and it’s really interesting how it’s almost like that they are benchmarks along the way.
NANCY PELOSI: Well, they are and that’s really the part of my message to America’s daughters is that you just don’t know, but you should be ready, and you don’t know what may be in the private sector, the academic world. It could be in any way that a new opportunity … I’m sure Anne has stories that she could tell us reaching the heights that she has in the private and non-profit sector and you, too, but in fact I never, in fact I avoided it because I knew what it took. I don’t want to say it takes a toll on the family, but it’s all consuming politics. But fortunately for me it came later in life. Right now, it seems like I was pretty young at the time, but at the time they were saying, “Later in life she ran for Congress.” That was 21 years ago.
So the thing is that for young women it’s so essential that we have many more women and thank you again for what you do, many more women recognizing opportunity that is there. It’s so important that they evaluate, that they recognize their own uniqueness and the contribution that they can make that is so important to our country. There’s nothing more wholesome for the political process than the increased participation of women in politics and government.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Do you support Hillary Clinton for vice president?
NANCY PELOSI: I support whomever Barack Obama wants for vice president.
So this is very important that women recognize their value, take stock, and be ready, and then understand what the need is. The need is tremendous. The need is tremendous. Imagine, when I went there were 20 women in Congress out of 435, and then now there are four times that thanks to the work of Swanee and others but we need many, many more.
We especially need young women coming there, working moms. I met some of my own daughters and young women who work and manage a home. I’ve never been able to do that. I did it sequentially; well, with five it would have been hard. Those voices have to be at the table so their experience is part of the decision making about how we go forward in our country, recognizing the challenges and the aspirations of America’s families. So it is something that I always thought part of my role when I went there as a woman was to increase the number of women and certainly now as Speaker.
As for the gentleman’s question, I’m sorry he left. I think that all of this has been so magnificently served by the candidacy of Senator Clinton with her intellect, her stamina, her political savvy, her eloquence and the rest. She emerged, I think, from this presidential race with much respect in America. [laughter] I also think she showed that while it didn’t happen this time, it may for her at another time, but that a woman can do this. A woman can be president and it also showed that the American people are ready for it. And I’ve always said the American people were way ahead of the political establishment in terms of a woman president of the United States. [laughter]
That’s why breaking the marble ceiling in the Congress was just an incredible thing because think of the … you know, you talk about male dominance of certain corporations. I’m talking about an institution that’s over 225 years old, is it that old already? Well, over 200 years old where the pecking order, the established order was always going to be a man -- pecking order as to who would come next. And I’m an outsider. I’m the Speaker of the House. I’m an outsider. I just said, “Hey, enough with this. What’s going on here?” First of all, I didn’t like losing and we weren’t in the majority and so I wanted to make my imprint on winning the House.
But one of the things that I tell about in the book is the Secret Sauce Club. So you go there and 20 women, so that makes, what, 415 men in the Congress. And you have your ideas. You come brimming with enthusiasm and optimism and hope and entrepreneurial spirit and you’re going to do things differently and ra-ra-ra. And then they pat you on the head, don’t worry about that, we’ll take care of that for you. And I called it the Secret Sauce Club. These men, because they wore a suit and tie, they thought they had the recipe for a secret sauce which is the only way you could get anything done. And you know what, they weren’t sharing that recipe until you just pull the veil back and say, “You don’t have any secret sauce. There’s a better way to do this. There’s a better way to do this. Let us be inclusive. Let us be inclusive in our thinking. Let’s think in the future because Washington is really status quo city. Left to its own devices it would be left to its own devices.” [laughter]
It really isn’t a place for change and entrepreneurial spirit but it will be and under 100 days. [applause]
SWANEE HUNT: So what we’re hearing from you is we’ve got to get a lot more diversity and balance in our representation in the kitchen, and we also know that it’s very hard to get women to run. It’s like your experience from the library commission. Women don’t see themselves as in those leadership positions. And one of the people asking a question, actually it reminded me -- there’s a lot of research that says with middle school girls, the most important motivator for them is their father and the opinion of their fathers. You would think -- I would have thought -- it was the mothers. My mother was a great role model. It’s actually the fathers who say, “You know honey, you could really do anything if you set your mind to it.” What about your relationship with your father? Was he a role model for you?
NANCY PELOSI: Well, both of my parents were very inspiring to me and encouraging to me but they were also very protective. And I’m very hopeful about this new era where young girls and little girls are raised in a different way. They’re raised with their parents believing they can do anything, and when I say that I don’t mean my parents didn’t think I could do anything. They just didn’t want me to take the risk and be hurt or something like that. So this is different. This is you can do everything, and you can make the fight. Let me say that in a gentler way. You can get into the arena. I mean is there a gentler way to say that now cause this is not for the faint of heart, to do anything political. This is very tough, but it’s very worth it and it’s very necessary. And apropos of Swanee’s question, or one of the questions from the audience, one of the most inspiring things to me when I became Whip, the Leader, and now Speaker is the mail and communications I get from fathers of daughters, or the people who are showing up at some of the book events. Fathers saying, “This is for my daughter, this is for my daughter.” But the mail that I receive, the communications that I received about what this means for their daughters was really something so different.
I think generational, as a matter of fact, and the pride that these dads, moms, of course know their daughters can do anything, moms know. But I think the reason that dad is an influence, because that would make a difference. I think most moms, knowing what they have done, know that their daughters can do very well but the dads, again maybe it’s being protective or whatever it is, but it is an exciting prospect.
It isn’t about Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton or anybody that you can name. It’s about a whole wave. I mean, I should say it’s not only about -- it’s about a whole wave of women just saying generationally, “We are ready to be unleashed” in terms of the power of this new generation. And even if that generation is older women who finished raising their families and the rest, but the power of moms just coming in because, I'll tell you, moms know.
There’s no more challenging, no more challenging endeavor than raising a family and in my view no more important endeavor. And nothing prepared me for being Speaker of the House more than the values, the discipline, the diplomacy, the inter-personal skills, the logistics, the quarter-mastering, all that you have to do to raise a family while never taking your eye off the children. And also now these young women doing it and working at the same time. It’s just remarkable. Their voices should be heard in numbers.
When I was first elected leader, I was invited to a meeting to the White House for a meeting of the leadership. And I wasn’t too apprehensive about the meeting because I had been to many meetings at the White House as a member of the Intelligence Committee, as a member of the Appropriations Committee. And so when we went in there and the door closed behind us and President Bush and Vice President Cheney and just the Democratic and Republican leaders -- not more than eight people at the table -- when the door closed behind me, I realized that this was unlike any meeting I’ve ever been to before at the White House. In fact, it was unlike any meeting that any woman had been to at the White House because I was there as … with my power derived from my election by my colleagues, the beautiful diversity of the House Democratic Caucus. Women had seats at that table before as power derived from the President, appointees of the President or staff of the President but nobody there in her own right by virtue of the power from the caucus and not just to acquiesce to what the president had to say.
Swanee’s heard this story. So we go in there. We sit down. The President starts and he was very gracious welcoming me as a new leader and looking forward to working together. And while he was speaking, I was getting very closed in on my seat. It was packed and jammed on that chair. Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, you name it, Alice Paul, Jeannette Rankin, the first woman to serve, they were all there. It was packed and jammed on that chair and I’m just naming a few. And so I was getting all squeezed in and this never happened to me before or since. So while we’re all jammed in on the chair and the President’s speaking and I’m vaguely hearing what he says, I hear them say, “At last we have a seat at the table.” I swear and then they were gone. And then they were gone. My first reaction is we want more. [laughter] We want more, we want more women. We want more diversity. We want more representation. But it really did, it really did happen and they were all there and but my goodness, Swanee, Madame Ambassador, drive home to me the responsibility I had.
I knew my responsibility to the future and to women who would follow, or women that I worked with and other women who would follow, but now I saw very clearly that I was standing on the shoulders of these women. And I owed them a great deal to get me where I was or women a seat at the table, but to honor the courage that it took for them to do this. So we have to carry this on. So it wouldn’t even be unusual for a woman to run for president, a woman to win for president, a woman to be seen breathing air in high altitude of power in a way that people don’t think it’s unusual at all. We want more. [applause] SWANEE HUNT: You’ve really answered one of these questions which is how do you talk to middle school girls. How do you help them get pointed toward this direction, to get this sense of themselves? Your book, first of all …
NANCY PELOSI: … I want to you to show the back cover because my grandchildren are on the back, my grandchildren.
SWANEE HUNT: And you’ll all remember that Labor Day is coming.
NANCY PELOSI: We give gifts on Labor Day?
SWANEE HUNT: Of course. We will give this one. If you had a gaggle of middle schoolers -- I’m going to combine two of these stories -- what would you tell them that when you were a child that you wanted to be when you grew up?
NANCY PELOSI: Well, see, when I was a child, as I told you, Peter Pan collars, that was teenage. I had no ambition whatsoever except to play and study. That was it. I didn’t have an idea that I wanted to be something in particular.
I mean I wanted to do something good but I didn’t have … now some children do. They know they want to be an astronaut. They know they want to be a doctor. They know they want to be a cowboy. And they really mean it, these little boys. They want to be a cowboy and that’s a good thing. But with the little girls now -- and I see them with my own grandchildren … I have one of all the grandchildren, Madeline, she’s nine years old and so she has a couple of years before middle school. But the best thing when I meet with them, and I have lots of children who come to my office … When I was sworn in, I accepted the gavel and called the House to order in honor of all of America’s children, and that’s our perspective there. So kids come in all the time. Sometimes we have press conferences with the children, and they’re very wise. They ask very tough questions, but I want to listen to them and by example. In other words, not to tell them you are important but to show that they are important by listening to them, by listening to them. Tell me what you think about this. Tell me what you think about that. And they have ideas. And they have judgment. And they know at some point they’re going to have some focus in life, but some know and some do not. But I always think the power of example is the strongest and most eloquent message to them rather than say, this is what I think you should do and how you should do it. Let me listen to how you think. And you learn a lot from them. The wisdom that they have is great. And just asking young girls what they think represents a massive change from my experience in the Congress.
Let me tell you this story. You probably won’t believe this, but it really did happen. So we had this dinner group. We go out on Tuesday nights. This is in the book. We go out on Tuesday nights and we, a group of us, three women -- Barbara Kennelly of Connecticut, Barbara Boxer of California while she was in the House, and Nancy Pelosi. And so we would go out with some of our male colleagues for dinner and maybe there would be 20 of us one night and maybe 12 another, but nonetheless we were outnumbered every time. And what you have to know about members of Congress is when they gather together, they all speak at once. They all speak at once, and so when you go home you have to re-acclimate yourself to polite society because you always interrupt each other all the time without any apology or anything. You just all talk at once, but nonetheless in talking at once they would say, “What do you think about this and what do you think about that?” to each other, but never to us. And so we would be like, isn’t this interesting. We really didn’t even care but it was interesting from their standpoint.
So one night, guess what they start talking about? Don’t ask me how. Maybe somebody’s staff person was having a baby. They start talking about childbirth. So they’re going back and forth and I said -- we said to each other -- now among us three women we have 13 children, four Barbara Kennelly, four for Barbara Boxer too. For surely they will say to us, does this make you uncomfortable or what do you think about this.
Nothing, but meanwhile they’re going at a great rate. “Well, I had on the green gown and the doctor said I could go in the room, but I went in there. Oh my God, I wanted to get out the minute I got in there.” Then the next one, “I went in with my camera. I still got the pictures. You want to see them?” No we don’t want to see the pictures. And then the next one, “They wouldn’t let me in. I was trying everything. They wouldn’t let me in.” But it was all about them. So did your wives have anything to do with this? It was all about them. And they never thought to ask, “What do you have to say? How was it when you had yours? You know, did your husbands go in the room?” Or something like that.
So a few weeks later we were at dinner, another dinner, but another person was there named Don Edwards. You know Don? The most beautiful man in the world, right? He was the Chair of the judiciary sub-committee that made him the floor leader of the equal rights amendment, a beautiful, lovely, articulate fabulous supporter of women in Congress. So we’re at this dinner, and we’re talking about something and he turns to me and says, “Nancy, what do you think about that?” So I said, “Oh my gosh ra-ra-ra,” and he said, “Why are you making a fuss?” And I said, “Because these people never ask us what we think.” And I proceed to tell him the story to which these other gentlemen say, “That could never possibly have happened. We would never have ever done that.” And I said, “You know, you don’t have a clue that you don’t have a clue.” It’s just hopeless. So in any event it was -- now I write about it in the book -- now they think it’s a great story, because they’ve evolved so much from then. And they admit that it happened but it was just an amazing thing. “I had this green gown on. You know what you look like? You look like an idiot with your camera, like you were giving birth or something.” [laughter]
Anyway, not to get too personal but it is people. You have to listen to people. If you want to show your respect for these little girls and let them know that they are important, you have to just let them talk about what they want to talk about and you know what, you can learn a lot from them. And we also learn a lot from their moms, who are young working moms and that’s why I want many more of them in the Congress of the United States.
SWANEE HUNT: I wish each of you could be up here looking out on you because I would say it’s about 52 percent men.
NANCY PELOSI: That’s amazing. I’m sorry. You probably had on that green gown. My husband did. We have all the pictures to prove it. Right, Paul?
SWANEE HUNT: I want to give you a chance to recover.
NANCY PELOSI: Oh thanks.
SWANEE HUNT: So how does this work with your husband? Please fill us in. You write a lot about him in here but like give us the inside juicy. Has this been easy in terms of when you all got together and then what was he doing? How did you, how did he feel when you started getting in the political limelight and how do you manage it now?
NANCY PELOSI: Well, I think it’s fair to say that you can’t do this unless you have a cooperative spouse. I think it’s also fair to say that this is not what Paul Pelosi bargained for. Is that right, Vince? He did not think he was marrying somebody who was going to go into politics and live the continental way for half a week. But you know we’ve been married 45 years – in September it will be 45 years. [applause]
But he’s really a great sport and he has lots of interests. He would never move to Washington DC to be sort of the spouse. He has his business. He has his sports. He’s a singer and dancer. He’s in these Alexander(?) plays and all the rest. And he enjoys what he does there. And if he had to be in Washington waiting to see, are we going to have dinner, are we going to meet later. It depends on the votes. That would not work, but having glorious weekends -- that works.
SWANEE HUNT: Well, we are most importantly at the last question and it is can you speak to your greatest success and greatest failure as the Speaker and maybe you want to reverse those. It’s always good to end high.
NANCY PELOSI: I'll take your advice on that. There’s absolutely no question without any competition my biggest disappointment is that we’re not able to end the war in Iraq. We thought coming into this that with the strong message from the American people in the election of 2006 that we would be able to do that.
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: End the war! Do it!
NANCY PELOSI: Yeah, I agree, we should end the war and so.
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Elect Obama!
NANCY PELOSI: Okay, thank you.
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: End the war now!
SWANEE HUNT: We hear you.
NANCY PELOSI: So the problem is though that in the House of Representatives, in the House of Representatives we have sent legislation over to the Senate over and over again to redeploy our troops out of Iraq. But the Senate requires a 60 vote, not a majority of which we have in the Senate, but requires 60 votes in order to bring a bill up. So they have blocked that over and over again. But the American people are not interested in process. They’re interested in results. They’re interested in outcomes. They want this war to end, and they are absolutely right about that. This is a war. I was the senior Democrat on the Intelligence Committee when this vote came before the Congress and that means I belong to something called the gang of four, two Democrats, House and Senate, Democrat and Republican, and we were entitled to see everything that the administration had in terms of intelligence on any subject but particularly now the vote to go to war. And when I read everything, I came back to my colleagues and I said, now as a Whip too but I was still on Intelligence. The Intelligence does not support the threat that the administration is contending. And the press said to me, “Are you calling the president a liar?” I said, “I am stating a fact. The Intelligence does not support the imminent threat that the Administration is …” And, of course, I’m from San Francisco, and progressive, this, this, this, and I said to them, “It’s not there. I don’t care who wants to read this or what it is. There is no Intelligence for that.” Senator Bob Graham from Florida was the senior Democrat in the Senate. The Senate for a moment was in Democratic hands so he was the Chairman. He voted against the war. It wasn’t there. You know they talk about faulty intelligence; it was not there.
They went to war because they wanted to go to war. So we go into war, selling a bill of goods to the American people that is a false premise without the proper equipment and training for our troops. A war of choice which has cost us without any strategy for success or an exit strategy. We have a war that has not made us safer, has not made the region more stable, and has undermined our military capability to protect America’s interests wherever they are threatened, and that is very, very damaging to our national security.
In addition, of course, most important, the loss of life was that over 4,100 now, 1,100 since the surge began. Tens of thousands injured, many of them permanently. Hundreds of thousands of them with PTSD, Post Traumatic Syndrome Disorder. And maybe over 300,000 seeking mental health counseling. You can just imagine how many need the counseling, so that major price.
In addition to that, trillions of dollars, trillions of tax payer dollars. Costing our reputation in the world, hurting our ability to win the war on terror where it really exists in Afghanistan and elsewhere that wasn’t before the war began in Iraq. And again undermining seriously our capability, our military capability where we have the Chairman and the Joint Chiefs all saying we need more troops in Afghanistan. We don’t have them. They’re tied up in Iraq. So we must -- when we win this election, it must, the first order of business will be to begin the redeployment of our troops as Congress and the House has called for over and over again. But the Republicans in the Senate have blocked, and that’s why again we want the war to end so we made the first effort. We’ve done a lot of the investigations and oversight and the rest in terms of cost in every respect, so that when we win in November we can quickly begin the serious redeployment of our troops honorably, safely, responsibly and soon out of Iraq. So that is by far the biggest issue and it is my biggest disappointment.
On the plus side, I believe that -- and all that we’ve done on the plus side has been totally eclipsed by the war. And the disappointment when I share, when people talk about
Congress being of low repute, I say “Put me in that category because I don’t approve of the way Congress has helped deal with this war either.” And that’s the main reason that people are angry with Congress is the war. There are other reasons but that is the main reason, especially to Democrats.
But on the plus side, many of the things that we have done have been very positive and put down a foundation for what will come next. The first 100 hours we passed the first minimum wage. I don’t want to try to make this a laundry list of our accomplishments, but in any event, in terms of making our economy fair, we passed the first minimum wage in ten years. They would not allow us to bring the minimum wage to the floor for ten years. Ten years.
The biggest increase in health benefits for our veterans in the 77-year history of the Veteran’s Administration. The biggest package for college affordability since the GI Bill signed by President Roosevelt in 1944. We passed the 9/11. Our first bill HR1, House Resolution One, to pass the 9/11 commission recommendation. Imagine that a Republican Congressman would not pass the 9/11 commission recommendations. What are we now? Seven years then, five and a half years away from 9/11 occurring.
Then we did some things that the President has not signed. Well, we passed the stem cell research legislation which the President vetoed but in another 100 days we’ll be getting that ready again. We passed the State Children’s Health Insurance program with strong bipartisan support, not enough to override the president’s veto. The President vetoed the bill. He said, “We can’t afford it. We can’t afford to insure ten million eligible children in America.” Forty days in Iraq. Ten million children in America for one year. The President said we can’t afford it. Forty days in Iraq. This is scandal.
It’s scandalous in addition to the blunder of going to the war in the first place. The scandalous lack of priorities in terms of what is important to our country. So we’ll bring that up again either before the election or after the new Congress comes in.
But there are things about competition and keeping America number one that we passed that the President won’t pay for, just won’t pay for.
Just this week, as we went out of session and to hear the Republicans saying drill in the protected areas. We’re saying we did many things in this past week that you wouldn’t support whether it’s releasing oil from the sprow(?) or ending undue and excessive speculation whether it’s use it or lose it views. Do you know that there are more than 68 million acres in our country in the lower 48 that are permitted for drilling that the oil companies don’t want to drill on? They want to drill in the protected environmental areas. Now mind you they’re selling a bill of goods again to the American people: that if you could drill in these protected areas the cost of the pump would come down.
Ten years, two cents will come down. In ten years, it will come down two cents at the pump, but they’re saying this to people so people say, “Well, I’m for drilling because it’s going to bring down the price at the pump.” Ten years from now, two cents. So there’s something going on. Again, it’s a diversionary tactic but on the plus side we pass that in the first 100 hours. To take, repeal the subsidies to big oil and use the money for tax credits and research for renewable energy resources.
So all these things we talk about, about how we make the American people healthy and expand access to quality health care. We’re trying to do it a piece at a time. The President rejected the children’s piece.
How we compete internationally through innovation with education, innovation, compete, prevail, be number one as we go to rebuilding infrastructure of America. These initiatives we put forward but the President hasn’t signed them, but we’ve overridden at least one of them.
Rebuilding the infrastructure of America is the biggest emerging economic market in the world for the private sector. If the public sector has a standard to lead the way and with no new deficit spending pay as you go, and then of course establishing our energy independence with reversing global warming.
And so I said to some of you earlier, in the conversation, what are the four words you would use to describe what we have put as our priority and what we will do when we win again and have a Democratic President. Remember these four words: science, science, science, and science. Science to make us healthier and the research that needs to be done. That scientific opportunity is there and we have ignored it because the President said, “If you put one more dollar in the bill, I'll veto the bill for biomedical research.” We’ve put more money, millions of dollars more in, and he vetoed the bill and that’s that. So science to make us healthier, science to make us innovate and compete and be number one globally. Science to make us an engineering to build the infrastructure in America in the tradition of Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin and Dwight Eisenhower. All these major big vision views of infrastructure in America and science to reverse global warming.
I will say this. One of the motivations for us and our science initiative was President Kennedy when he launched the new -- you read about it in the history books, right? Yeah, okay. Still not born yet. Okay. When he launched the initiative to send a man to the moon and back safely within ten years which was accomplished sooner. He said, “If we are to honor the vows of our founders, if we are to honor the vows of our nation, we must be first and therefore we intend to be first.” And in every respect, President Kennedy has been an inspiration. Senator Kennedy certainly as well.
That family has been an inspiration for us to think in bigger, more entrepreneurial ways, honoring the aspirations of our founders, respecting the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform and respecting all that we want to do for America’s children to make the future brighter. So for me to be here tonight is a thrill of a lifetime. To be at the Kennedy Library. To be with all of you. To thank you for joining us this evening. And to hope that young women, when they read this book will say, “How did she go from kitchen to Speaker?” This is why I wrote it, how many times do they say how did you go from the kitchen to the Congress. How did you go from being a housewife to the House Speaker? It’s about having faith in yourself, having faith in God, having faith in our country, having faith in the future. To these women I say, we need them to do that. So thank you all very much.
PAUL KIRK: Thank you all very much. I spent enough time in Washington DC to understand that if the Speaker of the House wanted to have the last word, she gets the last word. The Chairman of the Board here if he wants to have the last word, he gets the last word.
So I asked particularly just to be able to say thank you to Nancy Pelosi. You know the singular purpose of this Library is to honor politics and to honor public service. That is our mission.
Tonight and all the days of your public life you’ve helped us to accomplish that mission and we’re eternally grateful. Those of us who are old enough in Massachusetts to remember that we had speaker Joe Martin from Fall River, Speaker John McCormack, across Dorchester Bay in South Boston, and of course our beloved speaker from Cambridge, Tip O’Neill.
And where I’m at least old enough to understand what it is to be Speaker of the House, what it is and what the responsibilities are to lead the agenda. To be the person who is fighting the opposition, who is helping to raise the money, who is keeping fragile coalitions together and who is representing the best interests of our party.
And Nancy’s election to the Speakership is clearly something historic that cannot be overstated. But I'll tell you this. We could not be more proud that you, the responsibilities that you have and the way you are fulfilling them for our country first and for your and my party second is a very, very noble calling. And you are fulfilling it with the very best of skills and we are enormously grateful to you for that.
NANCY PELOSI: I thank you, Paul Kirk. You know how respected Paul Kirk is here in this community. I want you to know how respected he is across the country. He is a person of great dignity, knowledge and commitment and it’s a wonderful thing that he is the Chairman of the Kennedy Library Board Foundation. Paul allowed me -- and I’m going to yield back so you have the last word, Mr. Chairman -- but if I may just say in addition to those illustrious Speakers of the House from Massachusetts, may I thank all of you for sending a very distinguished delegation, 100 percent Democratic delegation to the Congress of the United States.
PAUL KIRK: So this young gal from Baltimore, all you have to remember is what we talk about so often here, appreciation of the value of politics and a practitioner of the politics of values. Nancy Pelosi.
I have one final thing to ask of this audience, in addition to thanking you for your questions and hospitality. The Speaker has been gracious enough to agree to sign her book down in the pavilion immediately after we adjourn. But if that’s going to happen,
I’m going to ask you to stand, stay in your place, give a standing ovation to the Speaker as she goes down to the pavilion and awaits you down there, ‘cause then we can manage this deal. Thank you all very much. Thank you, Swanee.