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Pelosi Says She Would Drain GOP 'Swamp'

Now, her political base is about as liberal as it gets, San Francisco. It's a fact that Republicans love to emphasize to voters who might want to visit, but not feel comfortable living there.

Republicans find her an attractive political target, and recently said she would try to "cut-and-run" from Iraq while "launching bitter partisan investigations" of the Bush administration, possibly including impeachment hearings.

A grandmother five times over, Pelosi pops chocolates, shuns coffee and flashes her wit. Asked what offices should would occupy if in the Capitol if she becomes speaker, she laughed. "I'll have any suite I want."

She would, too.

"If the election were held today we'd be successful," Pelosi predicted, claiming that her party's prospects are expanding as the campaign enters its final month. "So many other races are emerging right now," she said.

Democrats must gain 15 seats to regain the majority they lost in 1994, and have candidates in competitive races for 30 or so Republican-held seats, according to strategists in both parties. By contrast, only about a handful of Democratic-controlled seats appear ripe for possible Republican takeover.

Democrats have a pamphlet that lists all their promises and have run through several slogans in the past year or so as they test campaign messages. In recent days, Pelosi said, their prospects have improved by the discovery that former Republican Rep. Mark Foley of Florida had sent sexually explicit computer messages to teenage male pages.

Not long before sitting down for a lunchtime interview, she turned down a suggestion from Speaker Dennis Hastert that they jointly appoint former FBI Director Louie Freeh to recommend improvements in the page program.

"That was about protecting their majority" rather than the pages, she said dismissively.

Instead, she wants to put Hastert and other Republicans under oath and make them say what they knew of Foley's actions, when they learned it and what they did to stop him.

The potential for political gain is clear to her.

"It's an opportunity for growth among women" for the Democrats, she said. "They don't always vote and this could be a motivation."

With married women, in particular, it's a huge issue, she added.

Among older voters, too.

"If there's an ethical issue, seniors take a hike" and abandon politicians they blame, she said.

"If we hold onto seniors we win the election."


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© 2006 The Associated Press