Pelosi’s Middle East Tea Leaves

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
Pelosi doesn’t need to physically be on the Hill to line up her leadership in the next congress. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP
Tara Palmeri
October 20, 2022

Nancy Pelosi is scheduled to leave the country shortly after the election—on November 9, in fact, literally the next day. This has many of the tea-leaf readers surrounding her interpreting that she will not be whipping the votes to run for leader while she’s away on a state visit. The location of the visit is in the Middle East, but her office claims I will jeopardize her security if I report the exact location, which I obviously do not want to do, even though her trip to Taiwan was highly publicized in advance.

Of course, the real political animals in D.C. don’t really care where Pelosi is landing on her legacy tour, they’re just analyzing the political calculations. Pelosi doesn’t need to physically be on the Hill to line up her leadership in the next congress. She can just pick up the phone. But will she be on the line all night calling up members for support while she’s in a foreign country, charting out her legacy as a stateswoman? “If she makes calls the day after the election, that means she wants to stay in the game,” said a source with knowledge. “If she doesn’t make calls, that means that she’s allowing them to define their leadership structure and she’ll support whoever they coalesce around.”

The overwhelming consensus, as I’ve reported many times before, is that Pelosi is less inclined to give it another go. Some saw the January 6 committee’s footage of her heroic actions to try to stop the Capitol from being ransacked, as captured by her documentarian daughter Alexandra Pelosi, as an indicator that she plans to stick around. Others say the real action happens the week following the election when Congress returns to D.C. But a whole week can create a vacuum for the next-gen Hakeem Jeffries/Katherine Clark/Pete Aguilar package to jump in and make her decision for her.