In powerful new role, Pelosi recasting herself
WASHINGTON – When Nancy Pelosi appeared on national television on the morning after voters returned the House to Democratic hands, Leon Rebibo's phone started ringing in Los Angeles.A pearl wholesaler, Mr. Rebibo fielded calls from more than four dozen women of all political stripes who wanted a muted, multicolor strand of South Sea Tahitian pearls, just like the one Ms. Pelosi was wearing.
"I'm very disappointed the Democrats won, but I absolutely love her necklace.
If my husband hears me, he's going to kill me," Mr. Rebibo recalled one Republican woman whispering into the phone.
As Ms. Pelosi prepares to be sworn in Jan. 4 as the first female speaker of the House, she has become an object of fascination and curiosity in political circles and beyond.
Barbara Walters interviewed her as one of the year's 10 most fascinating people. People magazine has written about her twice in recent weeks. Washington hairstylists debate whether her conservative, blow-dry cut works. An article in a Palm Springs, Calif., newspaper ran with the headline: "How to Get the Nancy Pelosi Look."
(Answer: an Armani suit.)
Only weeks ago, Republicans were doing their best in the heat of the campaign to paint Ms. Pelosi, 66, as a conservative's nightmare – a San Francisco liberal out of touch with the mainstream.But more recently, a poll measuring political charisma showed that she had "dramatically improved her standing" with the public, sponsors of the survey said, with voters knowing her better and feeling warmer toward her.
[...] "She is trying to dispatch the stereotype put forth by Republicans," said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. "The advantage she has is the country didn't know her before. Her challenge will be to take votes cast against Republicans and the war in Iraq and transform them into votes for the Democratic Party in 2008."
[...] On Friday, a "People's House" event is planned at the Capitol, where Ms. Pelosi will meet a broader group of well-wishers.
The cost of the events will be covered by campaign donations, except the People's House, which is paid for by congressional funds. The total cost is not clear, aides said.
Four months ago, Ms. Pelosi barely registered on the name-recognition scale, which served her well at the time; Republican attempts to demonize her fell flat
because few Americans knew who she was. Now, many more do.
[...] But in the meantime, all eyes are on Ms. Pelosi, who is taking her place in political history, not to mention popular culture.
On a recent Friday, Leon Rebibo's family-owned Pearl Source in downtown Los Angeles unveiled "the Nancy Pelosi" – a replica of her Tahitian pearls made by designers who studied videotapes of the speaker-to-be.
They will sell for $5,999 – a bargain compared with what Mr. Rebibo figures the real thing is worth. Dallas News