Nancy Pelosi: Healthcare Reform Leader, Lightning Rod
"Without question, the most significant moment of the debate came at the end: passage of health insurance reform," she says.
Before the Obama administration, history hadn't been kind to passage of any kind of healthcare reform. The effort eluded President Bill Clinton and longtime Sen. Ted Kennedy, among others. Even when Obama seemed to be retreating, Pelosi kept pushing.
When top House Democrats considered giving up, Pelosi was quoted in terms that almost sounded like Winston Churchill during World War II. "We will go through the gate. If the gate is closed, we will go over the fence," Pelosi said. "If the fence is too high, we will pole vault in. If that doesn't work, we will parachute in. But we are going to get healthcare reform passed for the American people."
Vice President Joseph Biden declared Pelosi more powerful and successful than Obama or himself in terms of the healthcare reform. At one point during a campaign event in Philadelphia, Biden took issue with comments by Rep. Allyson Schwartz, D-PA, who referred to Pelosi as "the most powerful woman in American politics."
"I would rephrase that: the most powerful person in American politics," Biden said. "The single most successful, the single most persuasive, the single most strategic leader I have ever worked with is Nancy Pelosi." The vice president dubbed Pelosi the "mother of healthcare."
Despite such praise, even some Democrats avoided her; but she has continued to raise millions of dollars for Democratic incumbents. Pelosi says she's unfazed by GOP attacks that focus on her and healthcare reform.
"This is the Republican Party's agenda—and the American people will not stand by and allow Republican leaders to return us to the failed policies that left too many uninsured and too many without access to the care and treatment they need to lead healthy lives," she stated to HealthLeaders Media before the mid-term elections.
As Republicans began to make inroads this fall, Pelosi refused to discuss her future, or the state of the Democratic Party, but said, "health insurance reform moved America to a new direction." She added, "America is better off because of our work."
Joe Cantlupe is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media Online.
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