Democrat Nancy Pelosi, the first female speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, said Wednesday she had not decided what to do after Republicans take over the chamber in January, ending her four-year tenure.
"I'll have a conversation with my caucus, I'll have a conversation with my family, and pray over it, and decide how to go forward," Pelosi said in an interview on ABC's "World News." "But today isn't that day."
In a sweeping victory Tuesday, Republicans won back control of the House from President Barack Obama's Democrats. Right up until the elections, Pelosi had expressed confidence the Democrats would keep their majority in the House.
As the senior figure in the chamber, Pelosi, 70, is second in line to the presidency and the highest-ranking woman in U.S. political history.
Re-elected in her California district to a two-year term Tuesday, she could remain in the House and even seek to stay in the Democratic leadership, perhaps as minority leader. She could also retire.
A senior Democratic aide said the party would be surprised if she decided to stay in leadership and she could even face opposition.
"But it is her call and no one is going to rush her," the aide said.
CITES AILING ECONOMY IN LOSS
In the ABC interview, Pelosi said she had "no regrets" about losing the speakership. She said the Democrats lost the House because of the ailing U.S economy and the lack of jobs. The Democrats kept control of the Senate, but with a smaller majority.
"We believe we did the right thing, and we worked very hard in our campaigns to convey that to the American people," she said. "Nine-and-a-half percent unemployment is a very eclipsing event. If people don't have a job, they're not too interested in how you intend for them to have a job. They want to see results."
Earlier Wednesday, House Republican leader John Boehner, in line to become the new speaker, said Pelosi had called him.
"The speaker attempted to reach me this morning, left me a very nice voice mail, and I expect that we will have a very smooth transition with her office," Boehner said.
"He knows that I wish him well personally," Pelosi said on ABC. "And for the American people, I wish him well in his work as well."
Pelosi, whose father was a congressman and mayor of Baltimore, was first elected to Congress in 1987. She was elected speaker in January 2007 after the Democrats won control of the House in the 2006 elections.
She "consolidated more power than any other speaker in modern history," Time Magazine, citing congressional scholars, noted last December when she was named runner-up in its annual Person of the Year competition.
Pelosi used it to help give Obama what some analysts call one of the most successful legislative records of any modern U.S. president.
But the legislative triumphs such as the economic stimulus and healthcare overhaul were bitterly opposed by Republicans and overshadowed by fiscal woes.
"Historically, she will go down as an important speaker -- one revered by the left and hated by the right," said James Thurber of American University's Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies. (Editing by Peter Cooney)
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