WASHINGTON (AFP) – Nancy Pelosi, a hate figure for the Republican right, is poised to become the first woman speaker in US Congressional history after the Democrats election triumph.
The pro-abortion, anti-war Pelosi’s elevation to the number three position in the US Constitution is all but certain after the Democrats seized control of the House of Representatives for the first time since 1994.
Pelosi immediately vowed the party would seek “to lead the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history.” She also demanded a change of US policy in Iraq.
“Today the American people voted for change and they voted for Democrats to take our country in a new direction,” Pelosi said at Democratic headquarters in Washington late Tuesday. “And that is exactly what we intend to do.”
The prospect of the high-profile San Francisco politician assuming the high-ranking position will sicken Republican conservatives.
Republican congressman Roy Blunt summed up the mood of her critics on the right before the election, describing the idea of Pelosi becoming speaker as “plain scary.”
A 66-year-old mother-of-five who is married to a millionaire businessman, Pelosi entered Congress in 1987, winning a special election in San Francisco’s 8th district after the previous incumbent died.
Pelosi was re-elected with a landslide on Tuesday, polling more than 80 percent of the votes in one of the safest Democrat seats in the country for her ninth straight victory.
Her early Congressional career saw her speak out against China’s 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, and she regularly criticised Beijing’s communist rulers as well as voicing support for Chinese students.
After serving on the House Appropriations and Intelligence Committees, Pelosi was elected minority leader in 2002 when Dick Gephardt resigned to seek the Democratic nomination for the 2004 presidential elections.
After taking over as minority leader, Pelosi won admirers in party ranks for her fund-raising abilities as well as her success in uniting Democrats against Republican legislation.
The biggest challenge of her rule so far was trying to forge a consensus over Iraq, a job made next-to-impossible given the deep divisions amongst Democrats in both chambers, wary of being seen as weak on security.
Pelosi voted against the 2002 resolution authorising the use of force in Iraq and is on record as saying she wants to see a phased withdrawal of troops from the country by the end of next year.
On Tuesday she vowed to push for a change of policy in Iraq.
“Nowhere did the American people make it more clear that we need a new direction than in the war in Iraq,” Pelosi said.
“Stay the course has not made our country safer, has not honored our commitment to our troops and has not made the region more stable,” she added, urging President George W. Bush to find a bipartisan solution to the question.
“We cannot continue down this catastrophic path. And so, we say to the president: Mr President, we need a new direction in Iraq. Let us work together to find a solution.”
Although lingering resentment of Republican-led moves to impeach former president Bill Clinton run deep in Democrat ranks, Pelosi has ruled out any move to seek impeachment of President George W. Bush.
“Impeachment is off the table,” she said in a recent interview, describing it as a “waste of time.”
Instead, Pelosi has said that the Democratic majority would focus efforts on trying to secure a series of domestic legislative coups, including increasing the minimum wage and securing tax breaks for college tuition.
(Source: Yahoo! News)