Oct 13, 2020
Nancy Pelosi & Wolf Blitzer Heated Interview Transcript Over Stimulus Package
Nancy Pelosi & CNN’s Wolf Blitzer had a heated exchange in a October 13 interview about COVID-19 relief efforts. Pelosi called Blitzer a Republican “apologist” and told Blitzer, “You really don’t know what you’re talking about.” Read the interview transcript here.
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Wolf Blitzer: (00:00)
Nancy Pelosi: (00:00)
Which McConnell says, “Let the states go bankrupt.”
Wolf Blitzer: (00:02)
Excuse me for interrupting.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:03)
Let’s the states go bankrupt.
Wolf Blitzer: (00:04)
Madam Speaker, they really need the money right now, and even members of your own-
Nancy Pelosi: (00:08)
I understand that.
Wolf Blitzer: (00:08)
But even members of your own caucus.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:09)
But if you ask me a question-
Wolf Blitzer: (00:10)
Even members of your own caucus, Madam Speaker, want to accept this deal. $1.8 trillion. Congressman Ro Khanna, for example-
Nancy Pelosi: (00:20)
Wait a minute. Wait a second.
Wolf Blitzer: (00:20)
Let me just quote Ro Khanna, a man you know well, I assume you admire him, he’s a Democrat. He just said this. He said, “People in need can’t wait until February. $1.8 trillion is significant and more than twice the Obama stimulus. Make a deal, put the ball in McConnell court.” What do you say to Ro Khanna?
Nancy Pelosi: (00:40)
What I say to you is, I don’t know why you’re always an apologist. And many of your colleagues, apologists for the Republican position. Ro Khanna, that’s nice. That isn’t what we’re going to do and nobody’s waiting till February. I want this very much now because people need help now, but it’s no use giving them a false thing just because the president wants to put a check with his name on it in the mail that we should not be doing all we can to help people pay the rent, put food on the table, to enhance benefits, that they don’t lose their jobs if they’re state and local. We’re talking about the consequences of a pandemic, symptoms of a problem that the president refuses to address, and that is the coronavirus.
Wolf Blitzer: (01:30)
Madam Speaker, we know the problem out there, but there are millions of Americans who have lost their jobs, they can’t pay the rent, their kids need the food.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:39)
That’s right, and that’s what we’re trying to get done.
Wolf Blitzer: (01:42)
$1.8 trillion, and the president just tweeted, “Stimulus, go big or go home.” He wants even more right now.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:48)
That’s right. That’s right. That’s right.
Wolf Blitzer: (01:49)
Why not work out a deal with him and don’t let the perfect, as they say here in Washington, be the enemy of the good.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:57)
I will not let the wrong be the enemy of the right.
Wolf Blitzer: (01:59)
What’s wrong with $1.8 trillion?
Nancy Pelosi: (02:02)
You know what? Do you have any idea what the difference is between the spending that they have in their bill and that we have in our bill? Do you realize that they have come back and said all these things for child tax credits and earned income tax credits, helping people who have lost their jobs are eliminated in their bill? Do you realize they pay no respect to the fact that childcare is very important for people whose children cannot go to school because they’re doing remote learning, and yet they minimize the need for childcare which is the threshold with which people, mothers and fathers, can go to work if they have that? Do you have any idea of how just woefully short they’re concerned.
Wolf Blitzer: (02:47)
That’s precisely why, Madam Speaker. That’s why it’s so important right now. Yesterday, I spoke to Andrew Yang, who says the same thing. It’s not everything you want, but there’s a lot there.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:56)
Honest to God, you really are… I can’t get over it, because Andrew Yang, he’s lovely. Ro Khanna, he’s lovely. They are not negotiating this situation. They have no idea of the particulars. They have no idea of what the language is here. I didn’t come over here to have… You’re the apologist for the Obama. Excuse me. God forbid. Thank God for Barack Obama.
Wolf Blitzer: (03:20)
Madam Speaker, I’m not an apologist. I’m asking you serious questions because so many people are in desperate need right now.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:27)
I’m saying to you, if we-
Wolf Blitzer: (03:27)
Let me ask you this.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:28)
Wolf Blitzer: (03:28)
When was the last time you-
Nancy Pelosi: (03:29)
Let me respond to you. If you are going to answer your own questions-
Wolf Blitzer: (03:30)
Let me as you. When was the last time… Madam Speaker, when was the last time you spoke with the president about this?
Nancy Pelosi: (03:37)
I don’t speak to the president, I speak to his representatives.
Wolf Blitzer: (03:38)
Why not? Why not call him and say, “Mr. President, let’s work out a deal. It’s not going to be everything you want, not going to be everything I want, but there are so many Americans right now who are in desperate need. Let’s make a deal.”
Nancy Pelosi: (03:51)
What makes me amused, if it weren’t so sad, is how you all think that you know more about the suffering of the American people than those of us who are elected by them to represent them at that table. It is unfortunate that we do not have shared values with this White House and that they have in their bill, why don’t you talk about, in their bill, a tax break for the wealthiest families in the country while they cut out their earned income tax credit for the poorest families in our country and the poorest children in our country, that we have to fight with them to get them to address the coronavirus crisis, because they have said it was a hoax, it was magical, this miracle was going to cure it. It hasn’t, and that’s why we find ourselves in this situation.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:36)
I feel very confident about the knowledge that I bring to this, but more importantly, the knowledge that my chairs, our chairs of jurisdiction, science-based, academically documented, institutionally suggested in terms of what the cost would be to do it and to do it that way. Say we talk about childcare, yes, we talk about safety in the workplace. Safety in the workplace, that’s a very important issue, especially in the time of the pandemic. What I say to those people is, we’re going to get a deal, and when we do it will be retroactive. It will be retroactive.
Wolf Blitzer: (05:16)
Here’s what you wrote in a letter to House Democrats, Madam Speaker. And I ask these questions only, as you know, so many millions of Americans are suffering right now.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:23)
But you quote two people who know nothing about the agreement. There is no agreement, but what the suggestions are as if they’re some authority on the subject. Please, give equal weight to all of the chairmen on the committee who have written this bill.
Wolf Blitzer: (05:39)
But so many of your fellow Democrats in the House, they want a deal right now. The Problem Solvers, they all want a deal right now. And here’s what they’re complaining about, because you wrote a letter to House Democrats and you said this. Let me read a line from the letter you wrote. “The president only wants his name on a check to go before election day and for the market to go up.” Is that what this is all about, to not allow the president to take credit if there’s a deal that will help millions of Americans right now?
Nancy Pelosi: (06:07)
No, I don’t care about that. He’s not that important. But let me say this. With all due respect, and you know we’ve known each other a long time, you really don’t know what you’re talking about. If the plural of anecdote is not data, yes, there’s some people who said this or that. Overwhelmingly, my caucus wants what is right for the American people. Overwhelmingly, our chairmen who wrote the bill, read their statements. They all put out their own statements when they saw what the White House was proposing. So do a service to the issue and have some level of respect for the people who have worked on these issues, written the bill to begin with.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:47)
Now, let me just say this in terms of the numbers. I want people to do the math. We had 3.4, which would meet the needs of the American people for a sustained period of time so that there was some certainty in what would happen. The Republicans said no, so we took it down a trillion dollars by cutting the time. We took it down another $200 billion, so we’re now $1.200 billion down. We came down to 2.2. At the same time, since tomorrow will be five months since we passed the bill. At the same time, because there was no resolution, Mitch McConnell said, “Let’s pause.” The virus didn’t pause, and now we’re at a place where we need more money. We need more money for PPP for our small businesses, we need more money for our airlines, we need more money for our schools. So we have absorbed nearly a half a trillion dollars more of expenses still within the 2.2 by cutting back.
Wolf Blitzer: (07:51)
I understand all of that, and I have only the greatest respect for you.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:54)
Do the math. We have come down 1.6 or .7 trillion dollars.
Wolf Blitzer: (07:54)
Madam Speaker, I have only the greatest respect for you. I just want to point out though, $1.8 trillion is a lot of money. The American people need that money ASAP because they’re suffering right now. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but I’m saying-
Nancy Pelosi: (08:13)
And you don’t care how it’s spent.
Wolf Blitzer: (08:14)
I care, of course, how it’s spent. What I don’t understand is why not talk to the president.
Nancy Pelosi: (08:20)
You don’t even know how it’s spent.
Wolf Blitzer: (08:20)
Personally call him up and say, “Mr. President, let’s get a deal tomorrow.”
Nancy Pelosi: (08:24)
Look, let me say this. The president has sent Mr. Mnuchin to negotiate. That’s what we’ve done with other presidents. This isn’t unusual. With President Bush, we did this quite a bit because that’s how you negotiate, and then you take it to the president. Mr. Mnuchin, I think he has integrity representing his position.
Wolf Blitzer: (08:47)
He wants a deal.
Nancy Pelosi: (08:48)
May I finish please? He has integrity representing his position, but his position has no integrity. They do not share our values. Have a little respect for the fact that we know something about these subjects, and there’s a big difference between Democrats and Republicans and whether they want to give a big tax cut to the wealthiest people in the country in their bill, in the CARES Act. We try to take it out in this bill. Instead, they took out earned income tax credit, child tax credit, expanded health benefits to UI benefits to the extent that it was agreed to before.
Nancy Pelosi: (09:27)
I have every confidence in the arguments that we make because it’s based on science and documentation. Our chairs know their stuff. They know what they’re doing, with all due respect to the kind of people you were referencing. And I welcome their enthusiasm. I welcome their interest. I welcome their originality of their thinking. But the fact is, we have a responsibility to meet the needs of the American people in a retroactive way so they’re not at a total loss. They are at a loss because the president has ignored the virus. I wish he would spend time on the fact that, if he had not ignored the virus, we wouldn’t be in the position we’re in, but we are. Let me say about that also, I hope that I’m pleased that these pharmaceutical companies are taking the responsible position to halt and hopefully then resume because we want the public to have confidence in whatever therapies or whatever vaccines come along, that they will take them. And to people who say, “Well, I don’t trust Trump on that,” if we trust the Food and Drug Administration for what they are doing, the scientists there who have been working 24/7 for months and months and months, excellent science, the science would call the shot. And when they do, we should all trust it.
Wolf Blitzer: (10:48)
Let’s hope they get more treatments. Let’s hope they get a vaccine. Madam Speaker, I certainly respect you, but I also respect Ro Khanna, I respect Andrew Yang, I respect members of the Democrats who are members of the Problem Solvers. They want a deal because so many people right now are suffering.
Nancy Pelosi: (11:04)
The Problem Solvers, by the way, don’t have any earned income tax credit or child tax credit in their proposal either. But let’s not go into that.
Wolf Blitzer: (11:10)
We’ve gone through that.
Nancy Pelosi: (11:10)
You evidently do not respect the chairmen of the committees who wrote these bills.
Wolf Blitzer: (11:16)
I respect all of you.
Nancy Pelosi: (11:16)
I wish you would respect the knowledge that goes into meeting the needs of the American people. But again, you’ve been on a jag defending the administration all this time with no knowledge of the difference between our two bills, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to say that to you in person, virtually.
Wolf Blitzer: (11:35)
All right. Madam Speaker, these are incredibly difficult times right now, and we’ll leave it on that note. Thank you so much for joining us.
Nancy Pelosi: (11:38)
No, we’ll leave it on the vote that you are not right on this, Wolf, and I hate to say that to you. But I feel confident about it and I feel confident about my colleagues and I feel confidence in my chairs.
Wolf Blitzer: (11:50)
It’s not about me, it’s about millions of Americans who can’t put food on the table, who can’t pay the rent.
Nancy Pelosi: (11:55)
And we represent them.
Wolf Blitzer: (11:58)
Who are having trouble getting by on these long food lines that we’re seeing.
Nancy Pelosi: (12:04)
And we represent them. And we represent them. And we represent them. We know them. We represent them and we know them. We know them. We represent them. Yes.
Wolf Blitzer: (12:06)
As we say, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good, as they say here in Washington.
Nancy Pelosi: (12:10)
It is nowhere near perfect.
Wolf Blitzer: (12:12)
Nancy Pelosi: (12:13)
Always the case, but we’re not even close to the good.
Wolf Blitzer: (12:16)
All right, let’s see what happens, because every day is critically, critically important. Thanks so much for joining us.
Nancy Pelosi: (12:22)
Thank you for your sensitivity to our constituents’ needs.
Wolf Blitzer: (12:24)
I am sensitive to them because I see them on the street begging for food, begging for money. Madam Speaker, thank you so much.
Nancy Pelosi: (12:30)
Have you fed them? We feed them. We feed them.
Wolf Blitzer: (12:32)
We’ll continue this conversation down the road, for sure. We’ll take a quick break and we’ll be right back.