POLITICS

Pelosi's Power Reigns Supreme: 'Even Gingrich Pales In Comparison'

12/13/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

As Pelosi enters her third year as speaker, by any measure, she has become the most powerful woman in U.S. political history and is now preparing to wield her gavel in a way that few, if any, recent speakers could match. Even former Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, the architect of the 1994 Republican Revolution, pales in comparison. Pelosi is being mentioned by observers in the same breath as the legendary Sam Rayburn and Tip O'Neill, although she has yet to assemble a legislative record to match theirs. ...

There are a variety of factors that help cement Pelosi's growing stature, even as Congress as a whole suffers from its worst approval ratings ever. During the past two cycles, Democrats have picked up at least 50 seats, moving her party from minority status to an entrenched majority. She has no rivals within her own leadership ranks -- Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland was once a bitter opponent but is now a loyal lieutenant -- and committee chairmen don't have the same power they once enjoyed. Further, Pelosi is the chief fundraiser for House Democrats, raking in at least $26 million for the DCCC alone this cycle. Finally, Pelosi has become the leading communicator for House Democrats, speaking more on the House floor than any other speaker in recent history.

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