WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday the brutal attack on her husband will impact her decision on whether to remain in Congress after the midterm election, as she called on Republicans to stop the misinformation that is fueling political violence and urged Americans to “vote to defend our democracy.”
In a wide-ranging CNN interview, the Democratic leader did not disclose her future plans if the party loses the House majority, as many believe Pelosi and others will step down. Known for her stiff resolve, Pelosi’s voice cracked with emotion and she acknowledged she was “close to tears” as she described the trauma of the attack on her 82-year-old husband and the sadness she felt for the country.
“I’m sad because of my husband, but I’m also sad for our country,” Pelosi said.
“I just want people to vote and we will respect the outcome of the election, and I would hope that the other side would do that as well,” she said.
Pelosi was speaking for the first time publicly on the eve of elections as the Democrats are struggling against a surge of Republican enthusiasm to keep control of Congress at a time of rising threats of violence against lawmakers and concerns over the U.S. election.
Asked whether she had made a decision on whether or not to remain in Congress, Pelosi who rarely publicly discussed her future would only disclose that the attack on her husband had impacted her thinking.
“I have to say my decision will be affected about what happened in the last week or two,” Pelosi said on CNN.
Top Republican leaders including allies of Donald Trump and even new Twitter-owner Elon Musk have mocked and downplayed the attack, despite the gravity of the assault on her husband.
“There has to be some message to the Republicans to stop to stop the disinformation,” she said. “We want the country to heal.”
Pelosi’s husband, Paul, was bludgeoned 11 days before the election by an intruder authorities said broke into the family’s San Francisco and was looking for the speaker before striking him in the head with a hammer at least once. The intruder told police he wanted to talk to Speaker Pelosi and would “break her kneecaps” as a lesson to other Democrats. Paul Pelosi suffered a fractured skull and other injuries in what authorities said was an intentional political attack.
“For me this is the hard part because Paul was not the target, and he’s the one paying the price,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi said the hammer hit her husband in two places, but did not pierce his brain. Pelosi said his recovery was “on a good path” but she acknowledged “it’s a long haul.”
Long a target of Republican attacks, Pelosi said the assault on her husband of nearly 60 years, with its echoes of the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the Capitol, was fueled by misinformation “that has no place in our democracy.”
Pelosi said she was sleeping at her apartment in Washington, having just returned from San Francisco, when there was a “bang, bang, bang, bang, bang,” on her door. It was about 5 a.m. on the morning of Oct. 28.
“I was very scared,” Pelosi told CNN in an interview. “I’m thinking my children, my grandchildren. I never thought it would be Paul.”
“We didn’t even know where he was or what his condition was,” Pelosi said, in excerpts of the interview. “We just knew there was an assault on him in our home.”
David DePape, 42, is being held without bail in San Francisco after entering a not guilty plea to attempted murder and other charges in San Francisco. He also faces federal charges of attempted kidnapping of an elected official.
The fringe activist who followed conspiracy theories broke into the Pelosi home, woke up Paul Pelosi and demanded to talk to “Nancy,” authorities said. When Paul Pelosi told the intruder his wife was out of town, DePape said he would wait. After Paul Pelosi called 911, officers arrived to see the two men struggling over a hammer before DePape struck Paul Pelosi at least once in the head with the hammer.
DePape later told police he wanted to kidnap the speaker and threatened to injure her “to show other members of Congress there were consequences to actions.”
The authorities’ stark narrative laid out in court filings in the case comes in contrast to the jokes and innuendo that conservatives and some Republican officials have spread about the Pelosis in the aftermath of the attack.
Pelosi has said little since the attack on her husband, cutting short her campaign appearances but spoke in a virtual call to grassroots activists late last week after Paul Pelosi was released from the hospital.
“People say to me, ‘What can I do to make you feel better?’ I say: ‘Vote!’” Pelosi told those on the call.
Her voice cracked at times as she said of her husband’s recovery, “It’s going to be a long haul.”