Nancy Pelosi Calls for Civility, Tells Women to "know Your Power"

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, right, talks with Pat Mitchell, President and CEO of the Paley Center for Media …Calling for a return to civility in politics, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi on Monday urged women to become more active in their communities, to "know your power," and to "value your experience."

"There are many problems. And I think there is one answer," she told a small crowd at New York's Paley Center for Media. "Any subject you can name is enhanced by the increased participation of women. It's important to have that mix. Not to say one is better than another. It's just important to have the mix."

The public is ready for a woman president, she said, and her pick for 2016 is Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. "She would be a fabulous president," she said. "She's brilliant. She's talented. She has knowledge and judgement. She's a strategic thinker, she attracts people to her -- and she has stamina. She would be absolutely great."

Pelosi -- a Catholic mother of five, a 25-year veteran of Congress, and the first female speaker of the House of Representatives -- has long been criticized for her liberal stance on social policies and her track record of pushing controversial legislation through Congress. But Pelosi says that the harsh comments are proof that she's doing her job well.

"I take it as a badge of honor," she said. "If you're effective, you're a target."

Saying that she doesn't like the term "war on women," Pelosi told the crowd of about 70 women that she thinks the controversial Affordable Care Act will be upheld by the Supreme Court ("I'm predicting 6 to 3 in favor," she said) and pointed out that reproductive rights never used to be a partisan issue -- until now. Referring to laws proposed by some conservative politicians, "I never could understand why they didn't believe in family planning and yet not have 13 children themselves," she quipped.

"But it's not a good thing for women," she said after the laughter died down. "The fact is that the lack of respect for the judgement of women to make her own determination about something so personal… that they want to formalize, legislate against the ability to do that, it's really a stunning thing."

"These are the anti-government ideologues," she continued. "They don't believe in government -- clean air, clean water, food safety, public safety, public health, public education, medicare, medicaid, social security -- they don't believe in a public role except when it comes to a woman's private rights."

"I had five children in six years," she added. "I understand about being a Catholic and going by the book, and I respect that."

The controversy about contraception is an example of the vitriol that's become part of politics as usual these days -- and it's one of the main reasons that people, especially women, are becoming less interested in public service.

"If we reduce the vitriol, we will increase the attention that the public pays to the debates," she explained. "If people could really hear a civil debate… they'd be more likely to pay attention, and that favors women in the discussion."

It's important for our whole society that we have many more women involved," she added. "We have to reduce the role of money to increase the role of women as we increase the civility."

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