House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, center with microphone, jestures to Congressman Charlie Gonzalez, from the left, and is also joined by congressional candidate Joaquin Castro, state senator Leticia Van de Putte, Mayor Julian Castro at a breakfast rally for Joaquin at Avenida Guadalupe’s El Progreso Hall, Saturday, February 18, 2012 in San Antonio. Photo: J. Michael Short , SPECIAL TO THE EXPRESS-NEWS / THE SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS


House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi whipped up a crowd of party faithful Saturday morning on the city’s West Side, stumping for state Rep. Joaquín Castro, who is running to replace Congressman Charlie Gonzalez. Gonzalez is retiring at the end of his term after 14 years in Washington, D.C. Pelosi praised Gonzalez and his father, the iconic Henry B. Gonzalez, whom she served alongside as a newly elected congresswoman on the House banking committee. The senior Gonzalez “stood up for the consumers of America on that banking committee,” she said to raucous applause from the 200 or so who turned out for the invitation-only breakfast at Progresso, across the street from the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center. It was the first stop for Pelosi, who will spend part of the weeklong House recess in South Texas.

She heads next to Laredo for the annual Washington’s Birthday celebration there. On Monday, she’ll speak at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Texas A&M, at the invitation of the 41st president. On Friday, Pelosi was one of 293 House members who voted to extend the payroll tax cut to 160 million American workers. The extension was not offset by spending cuts, which Republicans had earlier insisted on. The successful vote was widely seen a coup for Democrats, as well as President Barack Obama‘s re-election bid.

Pelosi also came out swinging earlier in the week after a House panel on religious liberty and birth control included no women. The two who testified at a later hearing were both critical of the administration’s birth control mandate. Capitalizing on widespread outrage, Pelosi urged Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee supporters to sign a petition “to demand that women be allowed at the table when discussing women’s health issues.” The DCCC hoped to get 50,000 signatures before Congress left town Friday; it got almost twice that, according to the Huffington Post. But Pelosi stuck to local themes at Saturday’s event, telling the crowd she was personally as well as politically glad to be in South Texas.

“The Hispanic community in particular has made America more American,” she said to rapturous applause.

She recalled working 30 years ago in California with another icon of the Hispanic civil rights movement, Willie Velasquez, founder of the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, and warned the crowd not to be complacent this election.

“We have to have a big turnout,” she said, so that when Castro steps foot on the floor of the House, he does so with overwhelming support.

Charlie Gonzalez, who got his own standing ovation, said he’d been “hanging around” with Castro over the past few weeks, both here and in Washington.

“Of course I’m endorsing him,” he said. “And when you support Joaquin Castro, you support Nancy Pelosi returning as speaker of the House.”

Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/Pelosi-stumps-for-Castro-3341552.php#ixzz1mo7DLIYV

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