TIME What will it mean to be the first woman Speaker of the House?
PELOSI It is a sensational feeling. Women walk up to me on the street. Every place I go, they are so thrilled. It is a source of inspiration for a lot of people. What it means is, I have to uphold the highest ethical standards and to have the most open and bipartisan Congress, to do so in a way that makes women proud and makes sure that pretty soon we'll have another woman Speaker of the House.
TIME Can Democrats trust President George W. Bush enough to work with him?
PELOSI I think we have to start from a level of trust. On some issues where there is consensus, we can cooperate and build bridges of trust.
TIME Oblivious, in denial, incompetent, dangerous. Do you regret using any of these words to describe the President?
TIME Should at least 30,000 troops be home from Iraq by this time next year?
PELOSI Yes. I would hope at least that number would be out of harm's way. They are viewed as an occupation force. Our presence there is a magnet for terrorists.
TIME If President Bush had fired Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld two months ago, would you be in the position you are now?
PELOSI Yes. Donald Rumsfeld is an employee. The President of the United States makes the policy, and the more he campaigned, the better we did.
TIME If Bush vetoes one or two of the bills you pass in the House, will that be a sign that he's not prepared to work with you?
PELOSI No, it's just a sign he disagrees with us.
TIME Will Americans see their taxes raised by Democrats?
PELOSI Middle-income families in America will see their taxes reduced.
TIME Is it correct that you might have hearings about how Hurricane Katrina was handled, but looking forward?
PELOSI Yes, exactly. The point is, What are the lessons learned from Katrina? Katrina still lingers. The challenge is still there for us. We have to address the issue of natural disasters in a way that doesn't say that your survival depends on your economic well-being.
TIME Will your performance as Speaker have implications for Hillary Clinton if she runs for President?
PELOSI I'm not sure you would have asked a man that about another man. But since this is unusual, I will respect your question. I think it's really important for the people of our country to see that women can wield power and success in this rarefied and high altitude of power. I don't think Hillary Clinton, though, needs any validation from any other woman. She is an experienced Senator, articulate and a force in her own right.