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Pelosi proves formidable foe for US President -

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Pelosi proves formidable foe for US President

Broadcast: 16/05/2007

Reporter: Tracy Bowden

The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, is the first female to
hold her position. She is also proving a formidable foe for President George Bush in the battle
over the continued funding for the conflict in Iraq.

Transcript

KERRY O'BRIEN: In Washington, where President George W. Bush has his own growing political
nightmares. He's been forced to negotiate with key Democrats to secure continued funding for the
conflict in Iraq.

The President vetoed a Bill passed by the Democrats-controlled Congress last month, which attached
a timetable for troop withdrawal to the vital funding Bill.

Leading the challenge to the White House is Nancy Pelosi, who became the first female Speaker of
the House of Representatives - and third in line to the President - when the Democrats took control
of Congress in last year's mid-term elections.

It's the most powerful position on Capitol Hill, and as the President has discovered, the
Congresswoman from California is a formidable foe.

This report from the ABC's North America Correspondent Tracy Bowden.

(People yelling)

NANCY PELOSI, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Now into the fifth year of a failed policy, this Administration
should get a clue. It's not working.

(Gun fire)

GEORGE W. BUSH, US PRESIDENT: Instead of fashioning a Bill I could sign, Democratic leaders chose
to further delay funding our troops and they chose to make a political statement.

FEMALE VOICE: Come on. Create a space.

TRACY BOWDEN: After the deadliest month this year for US forces in Iraq, back in Washington the
President has been battling a powerful new political rival.

NANCY PELOSI: The response that the President gave when he heard that, the Bill was the response of
a President whose Administration is in disarray.

GEORGE W. BUSH: So a few minutes ago I vetoed the Bill.

TRACY BOWDEN: It's the President versus the Democrats.

(Applause)

And centre stage of the political theatre is the Congressional leader from California, Nancy
Pelosi.

NANCY PELOSI: The President wants a blank cheque. The Congress is not going to give it to him. The
President said...

NORM ORNSTEIN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: The President has been a little bit stunned that he
has this tough and formidable an adversary in Mrs Pelosi as he has. We also know that there's not
particular love lost between them

JAY LENO: How often do you actually speak with President Bush? And do you get along?

NANCY PELOSI: Oh certainly.

JAY LENO: It seems, seems a little... (pause)

(Laughter)

NANCY PELOSI: From time to time...

MARC SANDALOW, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: She is exceedingly gracious. She's very motherly in trying
to take care of people. She's also hard as rocks.

MALE VOICE: And the next Speaker of the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi!

TRACY BOWDEN: George W. Bush found himself forced to negotiate with the left wing, anti-war,
pro-gay rights Congresswoman after the mid-term elections when the Democrats took control of
Congress.

(Applause)

NANCY PELOSI: We have made history. Now let us make progress for the American people.

(Applause, cheering)

TRACY BOWDEN: In her own words, Nancy Pelosi broke through the marble ceiling to become the first
female Speaker of the House of Representatives, making the 67-year-old next in line behind the
President and the Vice President for leadership of the world's most powerful nation.

GEORGE W. BUSH: And tonight I have the high privilege and distinct honour of my own, as the first
President to begin the State of the Union message with these words: Madam Speaker...

(Cheering, applause)

TRACY BOWDEN: At the outset, the Speaker and the President were full of public displays of
bipartisanship, as they tried to deal with a new political reality.

CONGRESSMAN BRIAN BILBRAY, REPUBLICAN, CALIFORNIA: I don't think she thought she was going to be
Speaker. I think that she got caught flat-footed. And I think that's her big challenge, is just
trying to be all things to all people and, and when in fact she's built a political career based on
very much the, the extreme left of the political party.

TRACY BOWDEN: Nancy Pelosi describes herself as an Italian-American Catholic grandmother. Beneath
the immaculate grooming and the smart suits lies a pragmatist who's been observing the cut and
thrust of politics all her life.

MARC SANDALOW: This is a woman who was literally born into politics. Her father was a congressman
working here in Washington, representing the city of Baltimore when she was born. He went on to
become Mayor of Baltimore when she was a little girl. When she grew up, her older brother became
Mayor of Baltimore as well. So this is a woman who understood politics from the time she understood
how to talk.

TRACY BOWDEN: Mark Sandalow from the San Francisco Chronicle has watched Nancy Pelosi's ascent
through the ranks.

MARC SANDALOW: You've 435 members of the House of Representatives. Each of them has, each of them
has a huge ego, they're all over-achievers, they're all trying to stand out from the pack. The idea
that this liberal woman from San Francisco, way out on the west coast, would be the one to rise to
the number one position is not something anybody anticipated.

TRACY BOWDEN: Since becoming Speaker, it's on the issue of the conflict in Iraq that Nancy Pelosi
has most often traded blows with the President.

NANCY PELOSI: The situation in Iraq is catastrophic. Let's make no, make no mistake about that.

GEORGE W. BUSH: We just had a, a really important lunch...

TRACY BOWDEN: What do you think the President thinks of her?

MARC SANDALOW: Both of them are professional politicians and they know how to speak nicely about
each other, to hug before cameras and to say gracious things about each other. The door closes, and
I know Pelosi can be quite cruel to Bush. And the words that Bush has used against Pelosi and the
way that he has tried to use her as a liberal foil, suggests that he probably, it's probably a
relationship of mutual disdain.

NANCY PELOSI: We came in friendship. We came with hope. We came determined that the road to
Damascus would be a path to peace.

TRACY BOWDEN: Last month, Republicans had a field day when the Speaker decided to visit Syria - a
country the President has refused to negotiate with, accusing it of assisting terrorists.

BRIAN BILBRAY: I think it raised, raised major concerns.

TRACY BOWDEN: Congressman Brian Bilbray has joined the chorus of Republicans critical of the visit.

BRIAN BILBRAY: She's got to remember that she doesn't know it all, that she hasn't been a leader,
she hasn't been in a leadership, hasn't functioned at this level of, of responsibility before. And
before she starts thinking that she knows all the great moves, she's gotta really take some time to
learn what really works and what doesn't work, what's responsible and what's irresponsible.

NORM ORNSTEIN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: For Republicans looking to find some traction that
they can't get with their own President, hitting Mrs Pelosi, hitting the Speaker, the most powerful
and prominent Democrat out there now, and the first woman in the position, is a very tempting thing
to do.

(Camera shutters)

GEORGE W. BUSH: I want to thanks the members for coming down. I'm looking forward to our
discussions. I'm looking forward to what will be a constructive set of discussions.

TRACY BOWDEN: While Iraq may be the focus in Washington tight now, attention is also turning to
2008, and how each party will be positioned come Election Day. Just as Nancy Pelosi helped her
party regain control of Congress, she has a key role to play in the next great race.

NANCY PELOSI: The House will come to order!

(Cheering, applause)

MARC SANDALOW: She's helping to define the differences between the Democrats on the left wing of
American politics and the Republicans on the right wing, so that come the next American
presidential election, which comes along in 2008, I don't think anyone is going to be confused
about the differences.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Tracy Bowden reporting from Washington.