Receiving mixed responses from protesters and supporters, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi stopped in Ann Arbor Thursday night to promote her new book.
The California Democrat spoke to a crowd of some 200 people at the downtown Borders about her life in politics and her journey to becoming the first female speaker of the house.
Michigan Radio’s Charity Nebbe moderated the hour-long talk, which showcased Pelosi’s book, “Know Your Power: A Message to America’s Daughters.”
Pelosi talked about growing up with her father, a former Maryland congressman and Baltimore mayor, and how the constant campaigning initially deterred her from a career in politics.
But after her long-time friend, former Congresswoman Sala Burton, became ill, she asked Pelosi to take her place.
Pelosi agreed and was elected in 1987.
After telling stories about her family and their role in her political career, Pelosi fielded questions submitted on note cards by members of the audience.
But as she spoke candidly and amicably with the capacity crowd, shouts from angry protesters rang from the streets below.
Bill Nowling, spokesperson for the Michigan Republican Party, helped organize the group of about 20 people.
“We’re just sending a message that Nancy Pelosi needs to stop her (book) tour,” Nowling said. “She needs to call Congress back so that they can vote on a comprehensive energy package that includes domestic oil production as well as alternative sources of energy.”
Last Friday, Pelosi called Congress to recess, angering many Republicans who wished to vote on a bill that would enable offshore drilling.
Nowling and his fellow protesters expressed anger over the high price of gas as they stood across the street from Borders, holding signs that read, “Turn The Lights Off On Your Book Tour,” “Drill Nancy Drill,” and “Pit Stop Pelosi: Pain In The Ga$$.”
“It’s the number one issue that people are concerned with right now,” Nowling said. “It’s time to be back in Washington and do the people’s business.”
Michigan Republicans weren’t the only ones protesting the Speaker of the House.
Libby Hunter, resident of Ann Arbor and Green Party member, stood beneath the Michigan Theater with about 10 others, holding 5-foot poster boards that read I-M-P-E-A-C-H in large, black letters.
Hunter is part of a group that regularly meets outside the federal building in downtown Ann Arbor, protesting the war in Iraq.
The group decided to shift their location and focus their attention on Pelosi, who Hunter says has “voted pro-war on everything.”
“If Democrats hold true to what their party’s beliefs are,” Hunter said, “Then they can’t call her (a Democrat).”
The group that Hunter was protesting with was mostly comprised of Green Party members who expressed disgust with both Republicans and Democrats.
Ann Arbor resident Amy Smith stood outside Borders with a sign that read, “Democrat, The Other War Party.”
“The Democratic Party is working hand-in-glove with the Republican Party to continue the policies of George Bush,” Smith said.
She said they are supporting the war by funding it and by not impeaching President Bush.
As the Republicans waved their signs calling for more oil drilling and Green Party members chanted “impeach,” Pelosi continued, undeterred by what was going on outside.
Although the majority of her talk was focused on her personal life and the publication of her new book, she commented at the end about the war in Iraq, stating that it was the “biggest blunder of national security in our history.”
And she said instead of focusing on the vote for more drilling, “Why don’t we vote on ending the war in Iraq.”