Nancy Pelosi visits hometown on victory tour after becoming first female House speaker
BALTIMORE- Newly elected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took a victory lap Friday through Baltimore, the blue-collar city where she grew up and learned politics from her father, who was mayor in the 1940s and 50s.Pelosi, surrounded by family members, laid a bouquet of white roses beside a statue of her father, former Mayor Thomas D’Alesandro Jr., in the downtown business district.”It is with great emotion that I come to this spot because I used to visit here every time I came to Baltimore,” she said.Pelosi then visited her childhood home in Little Italy, a tiny, close-knit community of row houses and Italian restaurants just east of the trendy Inner Harbor.”We were devoutly Catholic, deeply patriotic, extremely proud of our Italian heritage, and in our case, staunchly Democratic,” Pelosi said at a ceremony to name her childhood block Via Nancy D’Alesandro Pelosi.The Baltimore events capped off two days of victory festivities for Pelosi, who was elected the nation’s first female speaker Thursday. The events also were designed to counter Republican descriptions of Pelosi as a San Francisco liberal.Pelosi grew up the youngest of six children, and the only girl.”We were all born and raised in politics, and we all worked the political scene,” recalled Pelosi’s oldest brother, Thomas D’Alesandro III, who was also mayor of Baltimore.The family “had our doors open every day, people coming in looking for jobs, for medical assistance, for housing, to get somebody out of jail,” he recalled. Pelosi “had an opportunity at an early age to be exposed to the world of politics at the precinct level, at the constituent level.”Pelosi left Little Italy after high school and never returned as a full-time resident, but neighbors here still remember the polite little girl who rode in open-top convertibles in city parades.Giovanna Aquia Blatterman, whose husband used to dance with Pelosi at neighborhood church dances, said residents are working to add Pelosi’s name to a bocce court named for her father.”She had a lot of time to watch and absorb, and it’s paying off now,” she Blatterman said.—Associated Press Writer Erica Werner in Washington contributed to this report.—On the Net:Pelosi site: http://www.house.gov/pelosiBaltimore’s Little Italy: http://www.littleitalymd.com
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