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Pelosi: Hillary Clinton's Iraq vote doesn't disqualify her from becoming the Democratic nominee

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif. speaks at the Generation Progress's annual Make Progress National Summit in Washington, Wednesday,July 16, 2014. The summit brings together progressive leaders and young people. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that she doesn't think Hillary Clinton's 2002 vote in favor of the Iraq war should disqualify her from becoming the Democratic nominee for president in 2016.

The question was asked because former Sen. Lincoln Chafee said he is exploring the Democratic nomination as well, and said anyone who voted in favor of the Iraq war should not be the Democratic nominee. "I do think it's a disqualifier," said Chafee, who was a Republican while he was in the Senate but is now a Democrat.

But Pelosi, who has long argued that the intelligence at the time didn't warrant an invasion, said she wouldn't hold Clinton's vote against her.

"This was wrong all around," Pelosi told reporters. "Having said it, that was then, this is now. We go forward."

"And I do nothing think that the vote that Hillary Clinton took on that, nor did I think the vote that John Kerry took on it disqualified him from being a candidate for president," she added.

Clinton has been harshly criticized for her role in the 2012 Benghazi attack, which many Republicans say is proof she is not ready to lead the country from the White House. But Pelosi said Clinton has lots of experience, and would be the most qualified candidate either party has seen in years.

"She's so qualified, and she has had great national security experience as a member of the Armed Services Committee and as secretary of State," Pelosi said.

"And for these and so many other reasons, she will be one of the strongest, most prepared people to enter the Oval Office in a long time," she added. "There are some others, but she will be among the best prepared to serve as president."

Pelosi also made it clear that she favors Clinton because she is a woman. "She comes to this, yes, as a woman. It happens to be that she is a woman," she said.

"It's a very major consideration," she said. "A very qualified woman to be president of the United States. Not just that she's a woman, but a very qualified [woman]."

Pelosi said that when she became speaker of the House, it encouraged girls around the country to aspire to higher goals, and said this would happen even more if Clinton won the White House. "Especially encouraging was notes from dads, fathers of daughters saying, 'I have so much confidence in my daughter now and I know she can do anything because you've reached that height,' " she said.

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