WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday her decision on whether or not to remain in Congress if Democrats lose control in the midterm elections has been impacted by the assault on her husband at the family’s home in San Francisco.
The Democratic leader did not disclose her plans for her future, at a time when many expect Pelosi and other Democrats would step down from leadership if the party suffers losses. But during an interview with CNN, Pelosi said with certainty that the attack on her 82-year-old husband has weighed into her thinking.
“I have to say my decision will be affected about what happened in the last week or two,” Pelosi said on CNN.
Pelosi was speaking for the first time publicly about being awakened by pounding on the door at her apartment in Washington as Capitol Police rushed to tell her about the assault on her husband. A powerful public figure known for her stiff resolve under pressure, Pelosi’s voice cracked with emotion as she held back tears during the interview.
The interview on the eve of the midterm election comes as her party is 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.
“I was very scared,” Pelosi told CNN in an interview. “I’m thinking my children, my grandchildren. I never thought it would be Paul.”
Pelosi’s husband, Paul, was bludgeoned with a hammer 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 the 82-year-old in the head 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.
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.
“We didn’t even know where he was or what his condition was,” Pelosi said, in excerpts of the interview that is scheduled to air later Monday. “We just knew there was an assault on him in our home.”
She disclosed her husband was hit twice with the hammer.
“For me this is the hard part because Paul was not the target, and he’s the one paying the price,” Pelosi said.
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.”