Oh, no he didn’t: 27-year-old NBC reporter Luke Russert asked 72-year-old House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi yesterday whether her continued leadership in the House is a hindrance to her party, considering her age. Pelosi, um, did not take it well. Click through to see the exchange on video.
“Some of your colleagues privately say that your decision to stay on prohibits the party from having a younger leadership and hurts the party in the long term,” Russert said at a press conference in Washington in which Pelosi announced she would stay on in her leadership position in the next term. “What’s your response?”
The crowd of reporters and congresswomen booed, and someone can be heard shouting, “Discrimination! Discrimination!” Pelosi, in testy good humor, said, “Next!” She added, “Oh, you’ve always asked that question, except to [70-year-old Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell.”
But Russert pressed on, and to his credit, it becomes clear he has a pretty reasonable question: Pelosi and her two fellow Democrats leaders in the House are all over 70, and Russert said other congresspeople have been privately grumbling that they’re preventing new potential leaders from advancing.
Pelosi still wasn’t happy. “So you’re suggesting that everybody step aside?” she asked. “Let’s for a moment honor it as a legitimate question, although it’s quite offensive. You don’t realize that, I guess.” She went on to say she’s always been committed to helping elect young people to Congress, particularly women. “I wanted women to be in greater numbers at an earlier age so that their seniority would start to count much sooner,” she told him.
As Russert pointed out on Twitter after the press conference, he asked the same question of another one of those three over-70 leaders, Steny Hoyer, back in 2010. Hoyer just laughed it off.