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Pelosi describes ‘marble ceiling’ in politics

The speaker's comments came as Elizabeth Warren drops out of presidential race

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Thursday described politics as having a marble ceiling, as opposed to a glass one.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Thursday described politics as having a marble ceiling, as opposed to a glass one. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi didn’t weigh in on the once-crowded Democratic presidential nominating contest that has now narrowed to a two-man race between former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, but she expressed some disappointment Thursday that a woman won’t be president.

“Every time I get introduced as the most powerful woman, I almost cry, because I wish it wasn’t true,” the California Democrat said. “I so wish we had a woman president.”

Pelosi admits that wish stems back to her desire for Hillary Clinton to have been elected over President Donald Trump in 2016. She had planned to retire had Clinton won, but decided to stay in Congress because she felt it was important to have a woman at the negotiating table when White House and congressional leaders gather.

During her weekly press conference Thursday, Pelosi was asked for her thoughts on Sen. Elizabeth Warren dropping out of the presidential race, leaving no women. The reporter did not note in the question, nor did Pelosi in her response, that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has not yet dropped out of the race, although the Hawaii Democrat lacks a path to the nomination.

“That was interesting, wasn’t it?” Pelosi said of Warren dropping out earlier in the day. She said her daughter Christine, who is an avid supporter of women, was going to be in a tough place today because of the news.

Naming all of the women who ran for the Democratic nomination — with the help of reporters — Pelosi said they all portrayed themselves well and with purpose and served as trailblazers for the eventual first woman president.

“Maybe one of them will be that person in another election,” she said.

Pelosi said she doesn’t think any of the women faltered because of doubts they couldn’t beat Trump. “I think anybody can beat President Trump,” she said.

While the speaker said she wouldn’t object if candidates had remained in the race, she noted there are benefits to narrowing it down to two candidates — indicating she thinks the early narrowing of the field will help avoid a brokered convention.

“Whatever differences we have are minor compared to the chasm between us and the president of the United States,” she said.

Pelosi reiterated that House Democrats will support whomever the nominee is but revised her phrasing of “embrace” from the prior week’s news conference to say they’d “elbow bump” — a joke related to the coronavirus.

“We’re not embracing anybody,” she said.

The next president is virtually guaranteed to be an older white man, with either Biden or Sanders expected to face off against Trump in November.

But Pelosi is holding out hope that one day soon there will be a woman in the Oval Office. The country is ready, she said, noting her accomplishment in becoming the first woman speaker was only a minor step toward that.

“This is a marble ceiling,” she said. “It’s not a glass ceiling.”

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