WASHINGTON--House Speaker Nancy Pelosi--ebullient, elated, energized and enthused hours after President Obama signed the health care bill--met with 13 columnists Thursday afternoon to discuss the historic legislation--and said White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel-contrary to his tough-guy image--is a "softie."
Other highlights from Pelosi, who discussed the bill as she ate a few squares from an organic Swiss Dark Chocolate Bar:
*Pelosi said getting the health care bill passed was NOT the hardest bill she ever had to move because members were engaged in the legislation. Getting some bills passed in the House is like "driving a truck across the continent with your teeth." Not this one.
*As Republicans vilify her, Pelosi said "I couldn't care less."
*On working with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who served with her in House leadership before moving over to the Obama White House, Pelosi said hough he has an image as a "political operative," Pelosi said Emanuel is a "serious person."
"I love working with him....he's really a softie," she said. She said they operate "at the same pace"--which I take to mean a very fast pace--and the two can "speak shorthand to each other." Unlike Emanuel, Pelosi said does not curse.
*On lawsuits being filed against the health care bill by some attorneys generals in some states: "Yeah. Okay. So what else is new?"
*Pelosi said she never, in arguing for a comprehensive bill--that's what passed in the House Sunday with three votes to spare--never disparaged in talks with other Democrats about one proposed approach as "kiddiecare." She said the words she used was "eensty weensy spider," as she tore open the chocolate bar.
*Pelosi said the final strategy for House passage of the bill--approve the Senate bill, followed immediately by a vote "fixing" parts of the Senate bill the House did not like--emerged over the last week.
*Pelosi predicted insurance companies would not rush to raise rates--and blame it all on the new health care law--because it would reduce chances for being eligible to be part of the insurance exchanges created in the bill--giving the companies access to millions of potential new customers.