Reporting Denise Koch
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — From Little Italy to the halls of Congress, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi blazed a trail for America’s women.
Denise Koch spoke with Pelosi about her Baltimore roots and how lessons learned here propelled her to the pinnacle of power in the Capitol.
She’s considered the most powerful woman in American history. Presidents, Congressmen and even foreign heads of state court her approval. It’s a fast-paced, high stakes world.
“I just made it under the wire,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi, former Speaker of the House and now House Minority Leader, granted WJZ a rare sit-down interview.
“My path to the Speaker’s office, the first woman Speaker of the House, began at 245 Albemarle Street, Little Italy, Baltimore, Maryland,” Pelosi said.
Growing up in a working-class section of Baltimore’s Little Italy, nobody—not even Nancy Pelosi—would have guessed she’d rise so far.
“My roots in Baltimore are a very important part of my life and my strength,” Pelosi said.
Her father was a Congressman and mayor of Baltimore. Her brother was a mayor here, too.
“[Politics] was never my dream. One thing led to another and here I became Speaker of the House and now leader again, but it was not something I set out to do,” she said.
Both Pelosi and Barbara Mikulski came from Baltimore and from the Institute of Notre Dame.
“Those nuns were so wonderful,” Pelosi said. “They taught us values, they taught us a strict regimen of intellectual curiosity and they taught us to lead.”
Taking strong positions on controversial issues like health care, Wall Street reform and the stimulus package have also made her a target.
“You get into the arena, you know you’re going to be a target,” Pelosi said. “What I was very concerned about was women. I didn’t want them to think if you succeed, you’re a target. But I don’t want women to ever be deterred by that. I think this is probably a transitional thing where they think they can get away with that because I’m a woman.”
The woman with Baltimore politics in her genes remains firmly entrenched in her powerful Washington role, defying her critics.
“I would say about how long to stay isn’t about time, it’s about getting the job done,” Pelosi said.
And she’s not done yet.
Pelosi said one of the most emotional moments of her career was when her father, former Congressman and Baltimore Mayor Tommy D’Alessandro, watched her being sworn in to Congress.