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Rep. Carolyn Maloney was in full district working mode last week, meeting constituents and tending to the home fires when her phone rang. It was House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who told the New York Democrat she wanted her back in Washington, D.C., for a House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee hearing on contraception.
“When she called me to come back here, I thought, ‘Ugh,’” Maloney said. “But then I thought, ‘This is an important issue. She’s working, [and] I should come down and be working too to support her and support the committee.’”
Pelosi’s persuasive talents and work ethic are legendary. But while the California Democrat is engaged in events such as the partisan tussle over contraception coverage that quickly grew into a national debate, she has delegated more of that work to her subordinates as she focuses on winning the majority and the Speaker’s gavel.
“Our Members are out there talking about reigniting the American dream,” she said last week after the Steering and Policy Committee’s quickly called hearing on contraception. “We’re very proud of what we’ve done ... and we’re ready for the fight.”
By dispatching the likes of Maloney and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.) on the contraception issue, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.) on the budget front, Pelosi is increasingly giving herself the freedom to pick her spots inside the Dome while focusing on media and fundraising outside it.
She cut a tongue-in-cheek video poking fun at satirist Stephen Colbert’s super PAC that drew more than 330,000 views on YouTube. On Wednesday she appeared on “The Colbert Report” to plug Democratic legislation, the DISCLOSE Act, to require more campaign finance disclosure. She sat down with MSNBC host Rachel Maddow that same night.
“Maddow to talk to the base and push a bigger message, Colbert to discuss DISCLOSE and to humanize her, and today a hearing to defend women,” one Democratic strategist observed. “She’s hitting all the right spots.”
Democratic aides say Pelosi has spent much of past year trying to re-energize a demoralized Caucus and building an operation to regularly attack Republicans. Now, those aides said, that operation is in place and she is in full electoral mode.