Nancy Pelosi Says Luke Russert Question About Her Age 'Offensive'

House minority leader says she got a late start raising a family.

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Nancy Pelosi got a little bit heated with Luke Russert Wednesday when the young NBC News reporter suggested at a press conference that it might be time for her to pass the baton on to younger leaders. The California Democrat had just announced her intention to stay on as House minority leader.

"Your colleagues privately say that your decision to stay on prohibits the party from having a younger leadership," Russert told Pelosi in a room packed with reporters. "What's your response?"

A group of female lawmakers standing behind the Democratic leader immediately began to boo and heckle Russert. One woman shouted "discrimination" at him several times.

"Oh, you've always asked that question," Pelosi sarcastically said to Russert, after a pause. "Except to Mitch McConnell." McConnell, who is the minority leader of the Senate, is 70 years old. Pelosi is 72 years old.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announces that she wants to remain as the top House Democrat, Nov. 14, 2012.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announces that she wants to remain as the top House Democrat, Nov. 14, 2012.

No one asked Sen. Reid if he's too old (he's 72) MT @daveweigelHere's exchange that had every D woman booing reporter slate.me/W5XoAw

— Adam Jentleson (@AJentleson) November 14, 2012

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Pelosi suggested she was only asked the question because she is a woman. Raising children, she said, led her to start her political career later than her male colleagues.. "I knew that my male colleagues...had a jump on me because they didn't have children to stay home [with]," she said, calling Russert's question "offensive." "You got to take off about 14 years from me because I was home raising a family."

Pelosi, who has five children and eight grandchildren, is the highest-ranking woman in Congressional history. She previously served as the first female Speaker of the House.

Women leaders of the future, she said, ought to be able to get an earlier start than she did. "I want women to be here in greater numbers at an earlier age so that their seniority would start to count much sooner," she said.

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  • Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or Facebook or reach her at eflock@usnews.com.