NRCC Communications Director Paul Lindsay said in the e-mail that his committee was “pleased” to see the story and that Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi “will continue to be a symbol for everything that is wrong with Washington and the Democrats who control it.”
The California Democrat may have returned to her role as leader of the opposition in the House by criticizing GOP initiatives on the floor, but unless you live in the Capitol Hill fishbowl, the more significant story is how Pelosi has disappeared nationally as one of the key faces of the Democratic Party.
Throughout the 2010 cycle, Republicans made Pelosi the poster child of the Democratic Congress, running against her almost as much as against President Barack Obama.
In a New York special election in 2009, the NRCC ran a spot titled “From Pelosi With Love,” which attacked Democratic nominee Bill Owens for supporting “Pelosi’s big spending.” The move didn’t prove successful, and Owens won.
In Oregon, unsuccessful Republican House candidate Scott Bruun’s first TV spot mentioned Pelosi but didn’t mention either the president or Bruun’s opponent, Rep. Kurt Schrader (D).
And in Idaho, underdog Raul Labrador’s late-October TV spot began, “Walt Minnick sounds more like a Pelosi Democrat every day.” Labrador won the race.
But it wasn’t only Republicans who used the Speaker in their TV ads. Democratic Members such as Jim Marshall (Ga.), Mike McIntyre (N.C.) and Joe Donnelly (Ind.) ran ads explicitly distancing themselves from Pelosi. Marshall lost but the other two hung on.
In fact, Ad Age noted that Evan Tracey of Campaign Media Analysis Group estimated that more than $65 million was spent on television commercials that mentioned then-Speaker Pelosi’s name.
But recently, Pelosi has been harder to find than a 32-ounce steak at a vegetarian dinner party — at least when it comes to the national media.
The change isn’t surprising. In fact, it was almost inevitable.
With Republicans now in the majority in the House and Democrats controlling the Senate, Pelosi is much less relevant than she was.
The far better story in the House is the GOP leadership’s challenge controlling the rambunctious freshman class, not Pelosi’s role in opposing the agenda of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
The former Speaker would have to say something pretty outrageous to get much coverage these days from a major news outlet. Everyone knows that the House is a heavily hierarchical body, and being the leader of 191 House Democrats isn’t a very powerful position, especially when your party has the presidency and controls the Senate.
Pelosi continues to release statements on everything from Women’s History Month (March 1) and the February jobs report (Friday) to Boehner’s steps to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (also Friday).
And she continues to have her weekly press briefings. But the attendance at those events has dropped significantly to less than half of what it was when she was Speaker, according to one regular attendee. (One Democratic insider I spoke with disputed that assessment, asserting that more people attend the briefing now because it takes place in a much roomier space.)
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