‘This Week’ Transcript 11-13-22: Speaker Nancy Pelosi & Gov. Chris Sununu

A rush transcript of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” airing on Sunday, November 13, 2022 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form, may be updated and may contain minor transcription errors. For previous show transcripts, visit the “This Week” transcript archive.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST: Let’s bring in the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.

Madam Speaker, thank you for joining us this morning. Congratulations on the outcome on Tuesday. I know there’s still a lot of votes to be counted and anyway (ph) we have a lot of news to get to.

But before we get to that, I just wanted to ask, how is your husband, Paul, doing?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, thank you for asking and good morning.

He’s one good day after another, he’s improving. It will take a little while. But we’ve been so comforted by the outpouring of so many prayers and good wishes and even people saying, “I wasn’t going to vote but now I’m going to vote because this has gone too far.” But thank you so much for asking. I’ll convey that to him.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Please do.

You know, we last spoke in September. You were confident then that the Democrats would do well, kind of a lonely voice at that time, given high inflation and President Biden’s low approval ratings. How did Democrats do it?

PELOSI: Well, first of all, thank you for acknowledging that we had a different approach. It was not anything that we ever accepted when the pundits in Washington said we couldn’t win because history, history, history. Elections are about the future.

I’m very proud of our candidates, both our incumbents as well as our red to blue candidates. They never accepted the punditry that they couldn’t win, they had courage, they had purpose, and they understood their district.

They also rejected calls from Washington about, oh, your message should change. No, our message was clear — people over politics, lower cost, bigger paychecks, safer communities. And they knew the value of a woman’s right to choose, they knew how important it was to protect our democracy, they knew the contrast between themselves and their opponents and that is what made them win.

It wasn’t about Washington said you should change your message, Washington says you can’t win. I hope that’s a lesson, because really it depresses the vote sometimes when people say “it’s all over” 18 months before the election. We never accepted that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Now the road to keeping the Democratic majority is still quite narrow. Democrats have to run the table on the toss-up races still out there to keep control of the House. Do you see a realistic path to victory?

PELOSI: Well, let me just say that is a quite different path than everyone predicted. And I give tribute, of course, to our candidates, I also give credit to our grassroots. This — there are VIPs, our volunteers in politics, millions of doors knocked, millions of doors knocked.

So they crossed a threshold. They leapfrogged over all the projections — the predictions and the rest. Whatever the outcome, we’re on the path to taking our country to a better place than with being dragged down by the other side.

So we’ll see. I’m disappointed with what happened in New York, that four votes could make the difference at the end of the day. But we haven’t — we haven’t given up and we haven’t given up because the quality of our candidates, the purpose of our why, why this is important, and President Biden did a great job presenting about our democracy being on the ballot.

President Obama making sure people understood it was important for them to vote even though there were those who were saying it’s all over at 16 — 18 months ago. So it took a great deal to get to where we are,and we’ll just see.

I said before, and you’ve heard me say on our walk in the park, it’s like the Olympics, in a half a second you can be a gold, silver, bronze, or honored to be an Olympian. They would be all very close races. They continue to be.

But, again, we’re very proud of the outcome and we’re very proud because it was a victory for the people, not the punditry, but for the people, as well as the success in Nevada is a personal joy for some of us because of Harry Reid. But politically so important for the country.

The president, we have the White House, we have the Senate, and we’re going to have a big strong vote in the House, a very different outcome than some would have predicted.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And if Democrats keep the majority, will you run again for speaker?

PELOSI: I’m not — right now, I’m not making any comments until this election is finished and we have a little more time to go. I wish it —

STEPHANOPOULOS: How about —

PELOSI: — would be faster, but it isn’t.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It’s going to take some time to count those votes in California, I know.

How about on the other side? Your Republican counterpart, Kevin McCarthy, it looks like even if Republicans do prevail, we’re going to be talking about 219, 220, maybe 221 votes in the House.

Can he govern with that kind of a majority?

PELOSI: Well, it depends on their purpose. In our House, we had that kind of — those kinds of numbers. But we were united — we were very united in terms of being there for the — America’s working families, that dominated our discussion — although we have our differences of opinion on certain issues, when it came down to the main purpose of the Democrats, America’s working families, there was no question that we would win every vote that we would took to the floor.

And this new — the new members coming in, again, a constant reinvigoration of the Congress that our founders intended. They are so diverse generationally, geographically, opinion, ethnically, gender — gender ID. It is — it’s going to be a wonderful class. They will be speaking so clearly to it.

We have one of the youngest members, Congressman-to-be Frost, coming in, and it is — it’s pretty exciting for us.

So, it’s not just about what the ultimate vote is. It’s about what the message and purpose will be demonstrated to the American people. And, again, it’s about our democracy, our democracy was on the ballot, our planet was on the ballot. Personal freedom was on the ballot.

These three issues very important to young voters and they were very important in our success in this election.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Whatever the outcome, you said this week, quote, we need to unify, I think it’s really important to restore unity to Congress.

PELOSI: To the country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What is the Democrats’ responsibility there? What steps do Democrats need to take to bring the country together?

PELOSI: Well, we have always been taking that step because we honor our oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and that should be a unifying principle for us.

The — when many of our bills, we worked very hard to make it bipartisan, bipartisan, bipartisan. And while the bills were bipartisan, the votes were not.

So again, I go back to Abraham Lincoln. Public sentiment is everything. With it, you can accomplish almost anything. Without it, practically nothing.

And the point I want to make is, when the public knows what is at stake and what’s happening there, I think we’ll see more cooperation, again, working together to produce a bill, but not having people vote no, take the dough, and make it look like we don’t have bipartisanship, when, in fact, in the bills we do, but in the votes, not necessarily. Let the public know.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Before the new Congress is sworn in in January, you have a lot of work in what would be a lame-duck session in December. Probably at the top of that list, extending the debt limit because Republicans have said, if they get the majority, they’re going to try to force concessions from Democrats in order to extend the debt limit.

Dow you believe you can get a permanent or a very large extension of the debt limit during the lame duck session?

PELOSI: Well, I think it would be very important for us to do so. I think it’s important to note that what the Republicans have said is they’re going to use the vote on the debt limit as leverage to cut Medicare and Social Security. I think the public should know that. It is a difference of opinion and I think the public should know who’s on their side on all of this.

We cannot allow them to cut Social Security. It’s an insurance program, as is Medicare. People paid into it and the Republicans cannot use it as leverage to say, we’ll only lift the debt ceiling if you will reduce the benefits for our seniors and others on Medicare and Social Security.

So, we’ll see what they contend that they want to do. But our best shot I think is to do it — to do it now. But again, winning the Senate gave us a lot of leverage for how we go forward if we don’t do it in the lame duck. But my hope would be that we could get it done in the lame duck.

The Constitution removes all doubt. The full faith and credit of the United States of America shouldn’t — is not in doubt. But this is a practice that we have engaged in. And so, we’ll have to, again, lift the debt ceiling so the full faith and credit of the United States is respected.

There’s great risk to even discussing not doing it. When the Republicans did this before, it lowered our credit rating. It lowered our credit rating — even though it didn’t eventually happen, but just the discussion of it.

So this is — this is dealing with fire when we’re talking about the stability of our credit rating.

STEPHANOPOULOS: In the face of all this news, we see that Donald Trump is planning to announce for president again on Tuesday. Is that good news for Democrats?

PELOSI: I don’t go into any discussion of his plans. I mean, I think it’s bad news for the country, let’s put it that way, because this is a person who has undermined the integrity of our elections, has not honored his oath of office, who has encouraged people, strange kind of people to run for office, who do not share the values of our democracy. They’ve said it very clearly in their statements.

So he’s not been a force for good. So, I don’t think his candidacy is a force for good for our country.

But that’s up to the Republicans decide — to decide who they will vote — choose. Understand this, we have very vast differences. Republicans do not support science, so they disregard what we’re saying about climate. They don’t support governance, so they don’t want to honor what science tells us in terms of the planet, in terms of – of health care and the rest. So, we have some very big differences.

There’s — the main event of it all is the presidential. As important as our races are, if we were in Las Vegas, we’re the lounge act, they’re — the presidential is the main event and this will be a very important election, very (INAUDIBLE) of the direction our country will go in.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So – so do you think President Biden should run again?

PELOSI: Yes, I do. I mean President Biden has been a great president for our country. He has accomplished so much. Ten million job – over 10 million jobs under his leadership. Working with the private sector, of course. He has just done so many things that are so great. We need a lot more show to tell it. But he’s put money in people’s pockets, vaccines in their arms, children back to school, people back to work, for starters, creating 10 million jobs. He has made America independent by passing the chips bill that says we’re no longer reliant on those who would withhold products that enable us to manufacturer in our country.

The IRA — I just saw him make the speech in Egypt where he spoke about America’s commitment to preserving the planet with the — legislation, the IRA, $368 billion in good-paying green jobs, clean air, clean water for our children, national security issue to stop migrations and competition for habitat and – and – and food, as well as honoring our responsibility to future generations.

The Pact Act, honoring our – our – our veterans, the bipartisan infrastructure bill, all of it with justice, with equity, with inclusiveness, with diversity, taking us to a new place.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally –

PELOSI: He has been a great president and he has a great record to run on.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, Madam Speaker, if you do decide to step away from Congress, how do you want your speakerships to be remember?

PELOSI: Well, I don’t have any plans to step away from Congress. I don’t – you asked me about running for leadership. No, I mean, these votes are very close, though.

The – well, my – my flagship issue has — from the start of my — being in Congress has been the climate issue. But in the course of things we – when we had the opportunity to expand health care for all Americans, that has to be my major accomplishment. I take great pride in that. Great pride in passing it under the leadership of President Obama and working with Harry Reid in the Senate. I take great pride in saving it from those who wanted to repeal it. For what reason? I don’t know. You’d have to ask them. To remove millions of people from having access to health care.

That – president — Martin Luther King said, of all the inequalities — the inequity in access to health care is the most inhuman, he said, because people can die. So I – I thank God for giving me the opportunity to play a role in that. And it’s an ongoing role to pass it, to protect it, to expand it. So that would be my – STEPHANOPOULOS: Madam –

PELOSI: But I take pride in so much else. But I don’t take credit for it. My members, the courage of the members, the House Democrats, to vote for this — it’s easy for me coming from the beautiful place that I do, San Francisco, harder for others. And it’s their courage that made so much of this possible. So, I’m so glad that we had a great — we increased — just dispelled the notion that Democrats could not win. We’re coming close. But we’re on a path to a brighter future for America. And I’m very proud of our members, our candidates, their courage and their purpose and their success.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Madam Speaker, thank you for your time this morning.

PELOSI: My pleasure. Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Right now, we’re joined now by the Republican governor of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu.

Governor, thank you for joining us this morning. You know, you cruised to a 15-point victory on Tuesday, yet your Republican Senate candidate, Don Bolduc, lost by almost 10 points. How do you explain that?

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R-NH): Well, again, I think we’ve been talking a lot about it this week. Candidate quality matters. You know, there’s a chance of extremism that I think a lot of Republicans were painted with, rightfully or not. You know, when you have a product, you can’t let the other side define you, right? And that’s what — what campaigns are. It’s a product of good ideas and what you want to bring to the table. And, ultimately, I think the Democrats did a very good job of defining a lot of these candidates before they even had a chance to introduce themselves.

And the, obviously, you have all this other national stuff happening that, I think, scared a lot of folks, this extremism that’s out there. And that’s what this was. This was just a rejection of that extremism. I don’t think anyone likes the policies out of D.C. No one likes paying, you know, six bucks for a gallon of heating oil, especially with winter coming.

But what I think people said was, “Look, we can work on these policies later, but as Americans we’ve got to fix extremism right now.” And I think that’s exactly what you saw.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, congratulations on your victory. By extremism, do you mean the politics espoused by Donald Trump?

SUNUNU: Well, that’s just — no, you know, I know the media likes to do the pro- and anti-Trump stuff. It’s not just about Donald Trump, right? There’s a whole stream of things out there that can be deemed extreme, on one side and the other. I think there’s an extreme left and an extreme right. In this sense, I think a lot of folks were really focused — are saying, “Look, it’s not about payback; it’s about solving problems,” right? And there was talk like that. It’s not about, you know, nationalizing abortion bans and all this kind of stuff.

There was talk like that. That just scared people. And, you know, the horrible — the attack on Mr. Pelosi and — I mean, those types of things got people’s, you know, angst up, and they said, “Look, enough of this. We have to start putting in folks that are definitely going to come together and work across the aisle.”

You know, if you go — and it’s not new, right? Let’s go back to the 2020 election. Joe Biden was the most moderate of all the candidates running on the Democrat side. He was deemed the most moderate of both he and Donald Trump. So America has been asking for more moderation for quite some time. There’s just, you know, certain parts of the Republican Party that haven’t listened so well. We’ve just got to get back to basics. It’s not unfixable. We’ve just got to get back to basics.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, one of those issues is getting back to basics and perhaps looking to the future, one of the things we saw across the country is governors who denied the election results in 2020, secretary of state candidates who denied the election results of 2020, lost this time around.

Does the Republican Party have to put away that election denialism once and for all?

SUNUNU: Well, I think we had to do that back in — like, on November 10th of 2020. I mean, that’s just…

(LAUGHTER)

SUNUNU: We should have been moving on from that stuff immediately. So, clearly, it is not a good strategy. It’s nothing that works. Sure, it taps into an extreme base and a fire that’s there with some folks, but at the end of the day, you can’t govern if you don’t win. And all that matters is winning in November. And so a lot of these candidates, I think, forgot that. I think they went way too far right in some of their primaries. I think they let the media; they let the other side define them.

Let’s not forget, Democrats put millions behind Don Bolduc’s campaign. Republican extremist Don Bolduc, here in New Hampshire, Democrats put money in his campaign in the primary — think about that for a second — to make sure that he got through. And he made it by about 1,000 votes through that primary. So I — you know, I think that’s a complete manipulation of the process, to be sure, but there was a lot of work on that side to define these candidates, to make sure they were the ones they were running against. And they were successful.

STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot of Republicans think that you all would have won that Senate seat had you chosen to run. Any regrets?

SUNUNU: No, because I — no, I love being governor. Look, with all due respect, the Senate’s the B-team compared to being a governor. I mean, it’s just not even a question. Look, I get to be the CEO, I get to design systems, I get to implement policy, I get to challenge myself to engage with constituents, find their problems and fight those barriers.

Congress has a very important purpose, do not get me wrong, but they approve of a policy, they approve of some funding and they kind of go on to the next thing. I’m an engineer, I want to design systems, create better solutions, governors, mayors, those of us that are on the ground at the local level, which is why local politics, not Washington politics, local politics, local solutions really work best. I love being a part of that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I know you say the media loves to talk about Donald Trump and perhaps that’s fair, but it’s not just the media, it’s Donald Trump himself and he’s planning to announce for president on Tuesday. Is that a good idea?

SUNUNU: For him, no. I think it’s a terrible idea for him. I was — look, from just a purely political standpoint, we still don’t know what’s going to happen in Georgia, the votes are still being counted in Nevada and Arizona, by the way —

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, no, Nevada and Arizona went Democrat —

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Nevada —

(CROSSTALK)

SUNUNU: — the governor’s race is undecided.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Oh, I see. Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

SUNUNU: — in Arizona is still undecided — yes, only about 80 percent or 90 percent in so we’ll see where that goes. But look, people want to move away from politics as you hit Thanksgiving, as you hit Christmas, as we’re spending time with families as we’re trying to figure out how we’re going to fill our oil tanks with all these high fuel prices.

So, now’s just a horrible time for big political statements, save that for early 2023 would be my message. But either way it doesn’t really matter. It’s going to be great for the media, “Saturday Night Live” will probably love it, but for the rest of us, we’re going to focus on spending time with our families and kind of taking a breath in the quiet of a nonpolitical world.

Let’s get back to ad nauseam car commercials and pharmaceutical commercials because that’s the — because the negative political ads have all just driven us crazy.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, those pay my salary. But can you see any circumstance —

SUNUNU: (Inaudible) —

STEPHANOPOULOS: — by which you would support Donald Trump in 2024?

SUNUNU: Look, I think there’s just — not really, because I think there’s going to be a lot of great candidates out there. I’m excited to see who runs for president on both sides. I don’t think Joe Biden is running. I think it’s going to be a wide open race on the Republican side. I think everybody who wants to get in is going to get in.

That’s a good thing. That’s a great thing. You see new ideas that are going to be out there as kind of the referee of the first in the nation primary here in New Hampshire. I take that — a lot of responsibility, we have a lot of fun with it to be sure but we also hold them to a whole different standard than the rest of the country. You got to come and — we got to buy into you as a person, right? We got to look you in the eye and buy into you as an individual before we even touch policy here. And that’s why grassroots retail politics, constitution service, connection with the individual really does matter in a place like New Hampshire. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You said referee, you’d be the front-runner in New Hampshire if you decided to run for president.

SUNUNU: Well, maybe, I suppose. I don’t know. You know, a lot of folks are talking about that, but, look, I’ve got a state to run, unlike Congress I don’t get vacation. It’s a 24/7 job, 3645. Unlike Congress, I have to balance a budget in the next couple of months. Unlike Congress, I just have a lot of demands on me and I love that. It’s a hard job but, man, it is so fulfilling when you get stuff done.

So I guess that leading by example and given where New Hampshire is, we’ve been very successful in a lot of areas, I got to make sure we continue to lead by example so when folks come in here, they know there is a whole new standard of accountability in terms of what you’re going to deliver as a public servant.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Sununu, thanks for joining us this morning.

SUNUNU: Thank you, buddy.

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