GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain drew applause and guffaws by referring to Nancy Pelosi as “Princess Nancy” during a debate last week. Her reaction? “Really, it’s another one of those clueless statements — clueless in that you don’t say something like that,” she said in a wide-ranging interview in her office. “I don’t know that he had any malicious intent, but it trivialized the fact that I was speaker of the House.”
You can disagree with the House minority leader, of course, or spend at least $65 million running 161,203 ads against her, as Republicans did in the past election cycle. But she hasn’t been slowed or trivialized. Even out of power now and with approval ratings that suggest those ads portraying her as the Wicked Witch found an audience, Pelosi has worked overtime to take back the House — attending 311 fundraising events nationwide and bringing home $26 million for Democrats.
Herman Cain referred to former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as "Princess Nancy" during the Nov. 9 GOP debate.
Last week, the California congresswoman hit five cities in five days, barnstorming for money to try to win the 25 more seats it would take to regain control. And if that happens — or when, according to her — at the top of her to-do list, she says, will be “doing for child care what we did for health-care reform” — pushing comprehensive change.
There’s a bit of symmetry to that: Amid allegations that he has been disrespectful to women, Cain refers to the highest-ranking female official in U.S. history as a princess. And when Pelosi takes a shot based on gender, she’s not afraid to mention that next on her agenda is the mother of all women’s issues: child care. Under fire for health-care legislation that conservatives consider a big-government power grab, she’s happy to promise more of the same.
Of the need for child-care legislation, she says, “I could never get a babysitter — have five kids in six years and no one wants to come to your house. . . . And everywhere I go, women say the same thing” about how hard it is to find the kind of reliable care that would make their family lives calmer and work lives more productive. When it comes to “unleashing women” in a way that would boost the economy, she says, “this is a missing link.”
Congress did pass such a bill, in 1971, but President Richard M. Nixon vetoed it because he thought it would undermine families and force them to put children in government-run centers.
“One of the great pieces of unfinished business is high-quality child care; I wonder why we just can’t do that,’’ Pelosi said. Her spokesman Drew Hammill said later that she doesn’t have a specific child-care proposal at the ready; that’s what the legislative process is for. But the Nixon-era legislation of which she spoke approvingly subsidized child care for low-income parents and was available to anyone who wanted to pay for it. “She sees this as the next big problem to tackle,’’ Hammill said.
On ‘princess’ theme
Asked what she thought of the cheering that followed Cain’s mention of “Princess Nancy,” she said: “This is the same audience that gave [Rick] Perry a standing ovation when no one knew what he was on.”