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Pelosi Emerging as Force Abroad        08/17 09:12

   House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is emerging as an alternative 
ambassador abroad, an emissary for bedrock democratic values and the promise of 
stability that some see as diminishing in the Trump era.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- There's an American leader whose words resonate on the 
global stage. Who draws attention in foreign capitals. Who carries a message 
from the United States by simply arriving.

   It's not just President Donald Trump. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., 
is emerging as an alternative ambassador abroad, an emissary for bedrock 
democratic values and the promise of stability that some see as diminishing in 
the Trump era.

   As the president heads to the Group of Seven summit in France next week with 
his "America First" agenda , Pelosi has been quietly engaging the world from 
another point of view. She is reviving a more traditional American approach to 
foreign policy, in style and substance, reinforcing long-standing U.S. 
alliances and commitments to democracy and human rights, at a time when the old 
order appears to be slipping away.

   "What's really important for people to know is, we're all in this together," 
Pelosi told The Associated Press in an interview. "This isn't about me. It's 
about our country and our shared values, to show our strength of who we are and 
what we believe."

   Since retaking the speaker's gavel this year, Pelosi has led large 
congressional delegations abroad: to assure European allies at a Munich 
security conference; warn Britons of the pitfalls of Brexit; assess the migrant 
crisis in Central America; and mark the 400th anniversary of the slave trade in 
Africa with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including the immigrant 
congresswoman who became the subject of a Trump rally chant, "Send her back!"

   Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said that at a time when U.S. 
policy is "confusing everybody in the world," Pelosi and the members of 
Congress are trying to "present the best face of America."

   "Thank goodness that they're doing this," Albright said.

   With the lawmakers, Pelosi is sending a "very clear message" to the foreign 
officials in the room, said Rep. Norma Torres, D-Calif., a Guatemalan American 
who joined the Central American trip.

   "Presidents come and go. Congress will always be there," Torres said.

   The scope of Pelosi's diplomacy often resonates with members of the 
president's party, creating rare bipartisan accord.

   This past week, when Trump said he hopes it works out with Hong Kong 
pro-democracy protesters facing retaliation from China --- "I hope nobody gets 
killed," he told reporters --- Pelosi affirmed the U.S. commitment to human 
rights and urged the Hong Kong government to end the standoff. It was a 
sentiment shared by several top Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader 
Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

   Congressional leaders routinely play a role influencing policy abroad. While 
House speaker, Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., visited the former Soviet Union. More 
recently, when John Boehner, R-Ohio, was speaker, he invited Israel's Benjamin 
Netanyahu to address a joint meeting of Congress amid opposition to the Obama 
administration's nuclear deal with Iran. Pelosi, as a young lawmaker, went to 
China to oppose the violent crackdown on democracy protesters in Tiananmen 
Square.

   But not since the late Republican Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., globe-trotted 
the world has a U.S. lawmaker emerged with such a presence, as a protector of 
long-held American values, as Pelosi.

   "This is what diplomacy looks like," said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., who 
traveled with Pelosi this month to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras as the 
migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border played out.

   Trump has not been pleased with some of Pelosi's trips.

   In a stunning move this year, the president abruptly ordered the grounding 
of the military aircraft that was set to take lawmakers to Belgium and 
Afghanistan to visit troops. The move was in retaliation for Pelosi's decision 
to postpone Trump's State of the Union address during the federal government 
shutdown.

   Trump dismissed Pelosi's "excursion" as a "public relations event" and 
suggested the lawmakers could fly on commercial aircraft to the combat zone. 
Congressional travel is, by law, federally funded.

   Critics may see the trips as merely junkets or, worse, meddling in the 
administration's foreign affairs. American politicians generally abide by a 
rule to leave their political differences at water's edge. During a trip to 
Africa, Pelosi surprised some when she declined to answer questions about 
Trump's racist tweets against members of Congress.

   Sometimes more can be said diplomatically by saying little.

   At the Munich security conference this year, Pelosi was embraced by European 
leaders at a time when Trump's attacks on NATO were threatening the decades-old 
alliance of Western nations.

   "She was greeted like a rock star," said Wendy Sherman, an Obama-era 
ambassador and former State Department counselor under Albright. Around that 
time, Pelosi and McConnell invited the NATO secretary-general address to 
Congress.

   Still, words matter and Pelosi's interventions in Brexit rippled this past 
week across the United Kingdom again. She reiterated the message delivered 
earlier this year, in London and in a speech to the Irish Parliament, that 
there will be "no chance" of a U.S.-Britain trade deal passing Congress if 
British efforts to leave the European Union result in a hard border between 
Northern Ireland and Ireland, which could undermine the peace process there.

   Her stand countered the one Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, 
was taking during his own visit talking up a quick trade deal.

   Lawmakers who travel with Pelosi say the trips are demanding, with grueling 
schedules and working meals, but rewarding as she delegates others to speak for 
the group. Many of the trips were initially their ideas.

   When the head of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., 
asked her to Ghana, Pelosi sought out the highest ranking African American in 
the House, Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, to lead the group's 
discussion with the country's president.

   Later, Pelosi took a photo with Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., the Somali 
American refugee who the Trump rally crowd wanted to send "back," as the two 
passed through a historic doorway at the coastal site where enslaved Africans 
were bound for the middle passage to the Americas.

   "So much of what we are doing carried history," Clyburn said.

   Mark Salter, a longtime aide to McCain, said while the Republican senator 
and the Democratic speaker disagreed on "a million things," Pelosi, like his 
former boss, "believes in the ideals of this country" and fostering those 
ideals abroad.

   "She's a statesman and McCain would applaud it," Salter said. "He would look 
at the speaker, those activities, with appreciation."


(KR)

 
 
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