Paul Pelosi attack highlights rising threats to lawmakers, vulnerable incumbents
WASHINGTON – With a year to go until the presidential election, the House speaker and her top lieutenants have faced new threats even as they face an expected wave of attacks by President-Elect Donald Trump’s administration.
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., was threatened with a government shutdown after he backed the GOP budget blueprint in December. Two years earlier, Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., found his political life derailed by President Barack Obama’s move to elevate an embattled Democratic senator to majority leader in the Senate.
Pelosi has been in the public eye since her first term as she championed her push for comprehensive immigration reform. She has been a steady presence in the national spotlight during her seven years in Congress.
In many people’s minds following the election results, she and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi are the same person, but the Speaker has spent the past year in the political crosshairs, not the other way around. That has led to the unprecedented rise of a female leader of the opposition party as the Democratic caucus fights for its survival and Democrats struggle to articulate the party’s progressive vision in the weeks and months ahead.
One of the primary factors in rising the political profile of Pelosi, she said in an interview, is the need to fend off the Trump administration’s efforts to attack her and other Democrats.
“The first thing I do is try to look at our opposition,” Pelosi said, “because we’re constantly under attack. The idea that we can’t talk about what we stand for is ludicrous – and it’s coming at us here.”
The attacks on Pelosi have been on the rise since Trump’s victory, she said, but the rise is not surprising because many voters have grown comfortable with “the idea that we’re not talking about them anymore.”
“They’re comfortable with us sitting in the background,” Pelosi said. “They accept that our party is a monolith…. But they don’t want to talk about the fact that it means they have to go along to get along. So they’re comfortable with us being in the background.”
She added: “These attacks aren’t personal anymore. They’re coming from the administration, and what we’re seeing is they’re attacking these people at the top of our party to try to hurt us.”