AUSTIN — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi faced a tough crowd as the morning guest of the Netroots Nation gathering.
Organizers warned any disruptions would come with consequences as Code Pink protesters donned costumes to make their point. They paced back and forth as Pelosi spoke.
But Netroots executive director Gina Cooper said she didn’t want to be a “tyrant,” and before the speaker took the stage she asked for everyone to get their heckling out of their system.
“We need for this event to go without a hitch,” she said. “You’ve got 10 seconds. Say what you have got to say.”
The crowd obliged, with some grumbling and shouts of “No more war.”
But while she spoke, it was a mostly friendly reception as she took questions on impeachment, the eavesdropping bill and war funding.
Some protesters silently held up copies of the Constitution while she spoke.
Pelosi said she was proud that her House Democrats had passed bills with a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq and talked about the Republicans who used Senate rules to block that from getting to the president more than one time. She said she shares frustration with the netroots that the war — which she opposed — has not ended.
“The American people and you are not interested in process, but that is the fact of the matter,” she said. “We need a new president who will bring an end to the war in Iraq and we will have that president with Barack Obama.”
“It won’t be long now,” she said, noting there are “107 days until the election.”
At one point some protesters shouted, “When will they come home? Bring them home now!”
Pelosi introduced Al Gore, the surprise guest who talked about his new climate change push and thanked the netroots for their activism.
Gore had some tough words for people who want to drill to solve the environmental crisis.
The Code Pink crowd walked out and shouted at Pelosi as the event concluded, with security following them out of the room.
Here’s some video of Pelosi thanking the group for their dissent.
Harold Ford received a similar warm welcome yesterday on a panel with Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas.
I had a front-page story on the Ford-Moulitsas face-off:
AUSTIN, Texas | Former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. ventured into the lion’s den Friday, telling liberal activists their differences with his centrist style are overstated and asking the “netroots” bloggers gathered here to suspend intraparty fighting until after the general election.
“Whatever differences there may be, … I don’t think they have any comparison to magnitude, caliber, character at all to the kind of differences we may have if Barack Obama’s opponent in this presidential race wins,” Mr. Ford, the chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, said to applause.
“I have great confidence that a president named Obama would be a whole lot different than a president named McCain.”
But Internet icon Markos Moulitsas, admired by the 2,000 gathered for the Netroots Nation conference inspired by his Daily Kos blog, demanded Democrats stand for their convictions, and issued a warning to politicians who voted for the Bush administration’s surveillance bill this month.
“In 2010, we’re going to have some Democrats we’re going to pay some visits to in primaries,” he said. “We’re going to keep pushing for an unapologetic Democratic Party that trusts in what it believes in and isn’t afraid to share that with the voters, that isn’t afraid to make distinctions with the Republican Party.”
Read the full story here.
UPDATE: The Code Pink folks walked out toward the end of the event in a slight disruption that Pelosi ignored. Here’s some video:
— Christina Bellantoni, national political reporter,
The Washington Times
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