tv Susan Page Madam Speaker CSPAN December 20, 2021 9:02pm-10:02pm EST
welcome to the institute of politics and global affairs at cornell university book and author series sponsored by bernardch schwartz. tonight madame speaker, nancy pelosi and the lessons of power written by susan page. we will have a nice conversation with susan, interviewed and then we will open two remaining questions at about 7:35. we welcome our friends at a c-sn this evening as we tape and for those of you unfamiliar with the institute of politics and global affairs we have a very simple mission and that is to deepen his course and raise understanding on complex issues in a bipartisan way.
may 12 at 7 we are featuring a program on education andse politics, setting the stage for the 2021 elections featuring congresswoman rosa delauro. at 7 p.m., navigating international hostage situations, a collaboration with the richardson center, so we hope that you will go to www. iop ga cornell or google cornell and you will be able to register. we have the former congressman john bell from georgia, former congressman from texas, former chair of the commission cornell is located in the county end of the president of the afl-cio
richard trumka, the chair of the executive committee at the cornell board of trustees and member of the board of trustees becky robertson. and the guest this evening is the host and publisher of the newsletter my former colleagues in congress view as essential in cutting through and understanding what's going on ir the world. you can sign up for that. chris is also the cofounder and host say politics on politics business technology, science education, arts and politicalio conversations ranked and our very special guest this eveningg susan page, the chief usa today where she writes about politics in the white house, covered
veseven white house administrations, has interviewed the past ten presidency and reported from six continents i don't know where you went wrong on the seventh, and of course in 2020 she moderated the vice presidential debate between mike pence and harris. a point of personal privilege whether it was me or any other chair, the position is regarded as nancy pelosi's chief political lieutenant and with that position, the responsibility of getting to know her. the last i heard of the long day
nancy pelosi was on the phone and i thought i knew more about her than anybody else and i will be honest with you when i first picked up the book i was a little bit skeptical. having spent as much time as i did with her i knew more from this book than i knew about her from my interactions and so if you want to understand the dimensions that drives her and the impulses into the strategic view of the tactical view and the commitments into the relationship she has with family, you must get this book and we will post the link several times in the next hour or so. susan page, thank you for joining us this evening. appreciate it. >> such a pleasure to be with
you. i should note that my husband is a proud graduate of cornell, so very excited. i did have an excellent source to the degree i understood that. >> most read from back to front. you interviewed 100 people and spoke with nancy pelosi ten times including some of the most your research was so detailed that you found the records when nancy pelosi and steny hoyer
worked in 63 and was paid $106 a week arguably you know better than anybody else may be even more the end nancy pelosi her so with all that information, what did you have prior to the book that most changed after the process? >> i will tell you one of the big surprises for me many people i think don't realize this the mayor of baltimore [inaudible]
nancy pelosi told me if her mother was born today she would be president of the united states. she was smart and ambitious and was a big risk taker. there were times when her husband would go to pay off the bookies that his wife was in debt to. she was the keeper of the file that was exactly what it sounds like. she was so partisan.
you would think they would say yes. he said after everything ronald reagan has done to the poor people in the country, don't let him come near us. they call her son that has been a former mayor to ask if he posted an actual physical threat to ronald reagan and the senate shows no physical threat just political and that tells you about the partisan roots of nancy pelosi. >> you talked about how when nancy and her son moved to san francisco with their children they cannot find an apartment.
she wouldn't take it because even then, she knew what elephants stood for. >> very revealing, yes. thank you. and i noted at least one of the names of the former representatives that are listening there is a gentleman that is named in the book. i usually like to start the conversation at the beginning, and you've written a remarkable kind of story and it's a great detail. you've also written about power and everyone i talked to who
wants to know about nancy pelosi marks on her power, her use of power and what we want to know is where does it come from, what is the essence of her power and also can you talk about the different facets of it into the way that she engaged with three different presidents, george bush, obama and the trump and of the different types of power with each of them so talked about nancy pelosi and power. >> different times i signed the contract we went through a different one but every title i had had the word power because one of the distinguishing is how comfortable she is with power. she has no qualms about power.
this is a trait that is even rarer among the women that get into politics with amassing power and a friend of ours, john bresnahan, congressional correspondent about a decade ago he wrote a profile that described her as an iron fist in a gucci glove and i think that is just about the perfect description of nancy pelosi's use of power because she can be very persuasive. she has an iron fist.
in the ninth interview i was asking about something she didn't want me to put inn' the book. she said you shouldn't put this in the book for this reason. i said it should be in the book for this reason and she started to show the iron fist. she didn't raise her voice, she didn't threaten me. by the end of the conversation she just asked to such probing questions that forced me to articulate and after the end of the interview i told her i thought it should be in the book and it is in the book but i was so unnerved by the time i left about 3:00 in the afternoon i
drove home, poured a glass of wine, crawled into bed and watched reruns for a couple of hours until i felt better. i can only imagine being a member of congress and having an exchange of much greater importance than this one. >> [inaudible] that is one of heral talents she will just stay in the arena with you for less long as she needs to. when you go to her office, there's a wonderful photograph of her father with eleanor roosevelt and you talk about her relationship with her father a
street fighter, former congressman and then there is a quote in the book i'd like to share after she became the most powerful woman in the history of the country she said her children had been more influential. having five children and six years and understanding the difference inst personalities. being the mother in a house of five children required the same as being speaker of the house in washington in trying to impose the order in chaos. dealing with grievances.
you have to be shifting alliances and with five kids, dyou can imagine. very much like congress this is an argument to run for congress when you are the head this is even sometimes with women when she wanted to consider running for office but they didn't have direct experience. their experience was mostly in the home. tell me if this is right that you would tell them that same story that the skills of a mother running a household are not similar to what you need to bring to washington. have you heard her make that argument?
>> and it usually works. in a white house meeting with president trump when he began yelling at her, one of them is please don't characterize [inaudible] another was more directed at her experiences. i don't know what trump said when he heard her say that but i'm sure because she did have an ability to get under his skin there is another famous exchange the last time the two of them had a conversation being in the cabinet room became all about
impeachment going up and jabbing her finger at him. general millie if you look at him he seems to be praying. there's a walkout from the cabinet room and steny hoyer heard trump say that and the remark was directed. steny hoyer told me he would have said if nancy pelosi is a third rate politician, i'm not a politician at all.
>> i also like the point steve nancy pelosiut getting prepared. from the parents relationship and of the affect her parents had on her, a possible subtitle of the book could be apples don't fall far from the tree. could you take this back to this period in which this time the cars, the buses, the baltimore orioles returning and i think it seems that's where she learned of the benefits of being operational. i'd love to hear about the baltimore 1950s and as well nancy and tommy the elder and the way they used politics to
operate to get things done, to create benefits for her constituents. take us back to that part. >> definitely a larger-than-life figure kicked out of st. louis parochial school at 13-years-old and never went back for a diploma as any kind of. he was invited back as an honorary but this figure challenged the democratic incumbent in congress was one of the main differences between. he was so enamored with fdr it remained his first thomas after himself he named his second franklin delano roosevelt della fonda so these were new deal politicians, these were people
who believed in and expensive government to help people in a big city government, so a the way weernment might look at it today, a government that is known for its patronage for instance. one political boss wanted to play any silly job and he said well what can he do and the boss said he can't really do much of anything and he said it's for the no-show job. so a different time but if nancy pelosi continues to reflect the agenda and to believe in a big government and expensive government but especially at a time that like we had today in the wake of this terrible pandemic it should be filling
the role in terms of providing a safety net for people. >> you covered this marvelously one of the lessons nancy pelosi learns from the primary and others is you get in on your own terms and not anybody else's. she decides she's going to run for the leadership position. no one had ever been in the leadership position in the democratic caucus and house of representatives and she decides she is going to just kick the door open. can you t talk about what that s like and her approach to that in terms of the timing and how she worked the caucus nobody had ever been in this position in
either chamber or party.da nancy pelosi had known since the days of working for the senator she disputed the need to defer to the people that were waiting and watched what amounted to be an insurgent campaign. she announced before there was an opening at the process she expected for three years that involved millions of dollars of money raised by steny hoyer and nancy pelosi as contribution to members of the house democratic caucus. it was brutal and left scars
that remained for a long time afterwards. but in effect it's a secret ballot made it more complicated. the ability to count votes which has been one of her skills of her since. in fact, she was the one that one. >> there's been so h much made about this positive rivalry and how detrimental it is. those are two pretty heavy hitters. susan just mentioned in that period you mentioned 9/11 and you write a lot about nancy
pelosi's reaction and even more about the iraq war and about pelosi's relationship with george w. bush as we got into the war and as things progressed. we live now in a pretty toxic time of politics but that wasn't a great relationship and my reading of what you had to say is maybe it isn't all george bush's fault. was i reading that correctly? tin negotiating the time and politics, i think critics would say she didn't do much to change the politics and make it less toxic. she created the situation we find ourselves with the government often being
dysfunctional it's actually worked in the world given she didn't try to transform it but she and george w. bush had a difficult relationship and nancy pelosi was the highest ranking member of congress to oppose the iraq war from the start. that was also true with the democratic party at the beginning of the iraq war and almost supported the war in its early days that proved to be something in many cases the highesti, ranking member of congress who opposed the war from the start and in 2006 she
was convinced she was going to be able to persuade george w. bush to change the course in iraq and she was unable to do that despitete two years of evey effort she could think of. by the time of the 2008 financial meltdown it had been months since they had talked. >> we've had the opportunity to talk about the vote in the iraq war and in reading the telling of that, she got a nearly two thirds of the democratic caucus voting no, 126-81.
one was 126. how much influence in your own decisionat and what did you thik ofsa the telling part of the story? >> i will say something very brief because this is about susan's books one of the skills and talent of nancy pelosi is not only the caucus butt the district. she knew i represented a 9/11 district and my district had lost over 200 of my constituentw and she also knew that i was in one of the most endangered
incumbents elected to the seat in 2,000 considered to be one term. nobody thought including myself that i would get elected and i do remember speaking with her and going through many of the arguments in herer saying nancy pelosi's brilliance as she knows how to count votes and she also knows how to keep democrats in congress so she threads the needle, and i believe she did that with that vote and others. we are going to open it up to questions and answers in just about five minutes. i would ask you this. throughout the book you talk about this fixation with nancy pelosi's wardrobe and one comes to mind not just another party girl but this obsession with what she is wearing and how she
dresses which i had never heard directed at any politician. i don't remember my 60s in congress somebody commenting on my shoes or my suit. we talk about her own attitude towards those perceptions. >> i think she didn't worry about them much. the race she lost was when she ran for democratic care after the 1984 debacle with walter mondale. after that, she had been chair of the democratic party and was the best candidate to be the national chair and she probably was but she was subjected to. the afl-cio political director
basically may be many things, but an airhead she was not. she complained about the sexism of the attacks and never so far as i can tell held those again. it wasn't useful to respond and she developed in the wake of that that is don't agonize, organize. so thousands of millions of dollars in attacks by the republicans since then she doesn't usually respond. she says don't agonize. >> let's have natalie give instructions for folks that want to ask questions and remind
everybody we are with of the author of the speaker nancy pelosi and the lessons of power including don't agonize, organize. also, another one sponsored by the cornell institute university inof politics and global affair. why don't we give instructions on how to post questions please. >> questions for the speaker tonight to y go ahead and write them in the queue mandate a at e bottom we w will take written questions if you prefer you can also use the function at the bottom of the screen. >> why don't you pose a question. >> you were just talking about attacks on nancy pelosi. i want to ask about the moment he spent four years attacking nancy pelosi very recently.
at this point with donald trump in office, she spend the highest american in politics twice and got the affordable care act and did the bailout and sot, many things that had been accomplished. you write it was her ability that finally meant she would be underestimated no more. donald trump had a big impact on nancy pelosi and on the arc of her life because not many people were aware b but she had been planning too retire after the 2016 election. it was the achievement she was most proud of. she was 76-years-old and
retiring age about one that election night, she felt like she was being kicked by a mule and said that wasn't a metaphor. she decided by the end of that night donald trump posed a threat to things like affordable care and also a threat to democracy itself. that was a concern that grew greater and greater and greater over time with january 6th nuattack on the capital and the ascension made to democrats and aeveryone else aware of some of the skills she had been displaying through her career.
one of the ways she keeps power she's very careful to give credit to others and she gave credit to barack obama for the affordable care act and that's true, wouldn't have that without barack obama in the white house or without nancy pelosi in congress and i think that her skills and ability to hold democrats together in the long term strategic politics against has been the capstone of her career. if you could unmute you can go ahead and ask your question.
>> it's good to have you on. >> it's good to be here. susan, thank you so much for writing this book about my question is more historical in flavor i happened to be there when nancy pelosi [inaudible] you referenced that in your book and i'm curious to hear more. my time was so quick and i was so busy i never got the chance to sit down with the speaker and talk about her relationship and i would be curious to hear from you what she shared. >> i'm honored that you are joining us tonight. not a particularly open openly
emotional person, prettied disciplined but i try to convince her to be more candid and i discovered in doing research one of the things i found in the archives of the university of pittsburgh was jack murtha was papers including some handwritten notes that he had made about his thoughts on nancy pelosi. >> for those who don't know who jack murtha is. >> of course. nancy pelosi was a san francisco liberal and check murtha is from cold country, marine, member of the old guard in congress and
not exactly ano natural ally. but the two of them became friends and allies and one of the big assets when she sought the leadership position is that jack murtha agreed to run the a leadership campaign. this was a huge shock to steny hoyer by the way so i'm looking in these papers for why he was willing to doo this and he said that a lot of the old guys were reluctant to have a woman as leader but she was as effective as he'd ever met.
[inaudible]. it was about as emotional as i ever saw her get thinking about jack murtha whose unfortunately now passed away. >> next question. >> looking at the speaker's rights and do you think it will be any easier to operate in congress. >> that is such a great question. in my view she's made a big
difference. a woman that has served in this position and has done it more effectively than any other speaker in modern times. we have to go back to sam rayburn who has been as effective as nancy pelosi has ever been and so we have to send a message to women that want to seek the position to leadership for those that may be thinking about a career in politics and those that are thinking about what can i do in my life and they look at fantasy ruth bader ginsburg has been a supreme court justice and nancy pelosi has been the speaker of the house so i think it does make a difference. >> overwhelmingly the questions coming in do you have any input or insight?
to move to a new generation of leadership and at that point nancy pelosi made an offer that she would serve just two more terms and this would be her last in the leadership. running back to look at this this was never put into the bill. it's not a law and she hasn't made a kind of statement about what the plans are but she did indicate making thiss offer in 2018 and indicated that she plans to make this her last term again. my expectation is this is the last two years as a leader and
as a member of congress. i have a personal theory and not based so much on reporting so take it for what it's worth. i can see president biden appointing her as ambassador to the vatican or ambassador to italy where her grandparents fimmigrated from. her mentor was the congresswoman from louisiana after she left congress and one of her daughters was cokie roberts, someone i interviewed for the book before she sadly passed away. she said herer mother would reay like that, following in her
footsteps and that way. >> if you could speak on the fundraising ability that's been talked about. >> unparalleled. aa couple of weeks ago now $1 billion since elected to the leadership and various democratic campaigns. no one else has come close to that.f one of the strengths and things that she brings to the table if she's used it to reward people, to get democrats elected and to the majority it's a phenomenal amount of money.
if you could go ahead and on mute you can ask your question. howard, if you could go ahead and unmute, you can ask your question. >> i will yield my time to the next person. >> thank you. this is a question that we had a ybit earlier if you might makea prediction of who is likely to succeed nancy pelosi. it could still be a prospective
speaker. mentioned as potential successors he would be the first person of color there's others as a former speaker of the california house, adam schiff has been interested in the leadership as well. if there are several people that i think would like this job and i think that when pelosi leaves there will be a candidate.
nancy pelosi understands the leadership didn't determine and she wouldn't be in the position to determine the victory of this because it would be up to the numbers of the democratic members of the house. >> can i chime in on this. you talk about the succession talks and how that played out with a number of my colleagues. in those conversations, she always said she knew the future and the successor of someone with three qualities. someone that reflects core democratic values and number two, someone that can keep the caucus together. this is no small feat. number three, somebody that can negotiate with the president and a senate leadership of either
party. so to the extent if she begins speaking about who replaces her and she weighs in on that issue i think those criteria are going to be cooperating with her. >> think how difficult it is to do those things, to keep the democratic caucus together, but it's no easy task. going back to the district's and members of the squad from defecting and negotiating with presidents. in part, there's a picture in the book talking to jfk this is
a person that had a lot of dealings with presidents. >> we have a hard to stop at 8:00 so two minutes left. chris, if you have a question i would love for you to chime in as well. >> a question for susan you mentioned the squad and the question is how has the madame m speakers relationship evolved and leading into that, nancy pelosi saul something of herself in aoc even though she was causingca trouble. >> she's against disruption, and
passion through political views because she has aas lot of passn for her political views. when she was thinking about aoc. the perspective now is a little different because she's also operational and being operational means you can have a strong view and should have a strong view but you are willing to do the things that actually make it happen, to get something done. one of the interviews came on a few hours after she had a big blowup in the democratic caucus with the members on an immigration vote that nancy pelosi had really wanted to democrats to hold together on
and fell off this cascading effect and the difference between making a fine pate and sausage [inaudible] in washington and also the former chair of the appropriations committee. some people come to washington to pose for pictures to show how to legislate and nancy pelosi would definitely put herself in the corner with those that wanted to legislate into the
process that is involved in doing that. [inaudible] the best you can get. the next question, natalie. >> this is an anecdote i think you would be interested in. can you hear me okay? when democrats were trying to run the house back in 2006 and we were in the middle of a heated battle this was in september of 2006 when the if issuewas still in doubt in the .
she came to the funeral, graveside and then attended the section afterwards. that occurs throughout your book, that ironclad grasp. >> after we lost the house in 2010 "the new york times" wrote an editorial saying she shouldn't continue as the s democratic leader. asked me to respond to the times, which i did and they printed my response as to why she should remain as leader and i was very happy to do that. it was an unusual relationship that we had.
>> it's great to hear from you and to hear that story and to have had an experience like that, i did hear several stories from people that had experience i don't mean it's insincere in nancy pelosi's part, but it's very meaningful to people to have an experience. i interviewed bob dole for this book and he was very excited because his birthday was coming up and nancy pelosi [inaudible] that's what he talked about in this interview and i checked back with her office as i was putting that anecdote in the book. >> i think we have number two,
maybe three. >> if you could speak to the state of the union speech and for bipartisanship. >> i've been in washington a long time and i've never seen anything like that. i ask her about it when i was interviewing her. she says that the text of the address that she's about to deliver and as she is going through it quickly because she wants to see what it's going to say. if she sees something that she thinks is an accurate and wants to make a mark with a pen so she can find it so she can't find a pen. even if you are the speaker of the house.
there's nothing in the drawer, there's no pen so she makes a tear in the margin of the text and then she sees something else and another thing she thinks is untrue and by the time it is at the end, there are tears all the way up and down, some photographers went back to look at the pictures and saw her making those and there was speculation that she had been planning to tear up the speech. she told me that wasn't true. she hadn't decided what to do, that strikes her as an inappropriate thing to do and
such a toxic figure so the speech she decides i decided if he was going to shredded the truth, i was going to spread his speech. it was too thick and she divided into four sets of pages to toss them on the desk and meanwhile, my favorite part of this picture is mike pence who was standing next to her pretended he didn't know what she was doing. the question asking if you can compare and contrast and if you believe [inaudible]
>> it's definitely in a polarized world as well as newt gingrich strategies that made the politics more polarized. nancy pelosi is very critical of newt gingrich and newt gingrich is critical of nancy pelosi. i have to tell you when i interviewednt newt gingrich for the book, he was criticizing her on policy but then he started to talk about how much respect he had for her as a politician and a somebody that knew how to get and use power for the purposes and said when he looked at nancy pelosi, he saw a fellow pirate and i think the words fellow pirate are intended as high praise indeed. >> for the next several weeks and months congress is dealing with an infrastructure bill with wresponses to covid and
campaign-finance reform with many significant challenges. if you want to understand how nancy pelosi developed strategies and tactics and operationalizes it, you should read madame speaker. that will give you the best ginside of you during these critical times. it was a delight to have you. ladies and gentlemen, may 12 ati education and politics with congresswoman rosa delauro, the chairwoman of the appropriations committee and may 19th, governor bill richardson talking about how to navigate international hostage situations. ..
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