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For Pelosi and McCarthy, a Toxic Relationship Worsens as Elections Approach

While she did not have a close bond with the two Republican speakers who succeeded her in the past, John Boehner and Paul Ryan, their offices routinely worked together and Ms. Pelosi never held them in such low regard. Ms. Pelosi has virtually nothing to do with Mr. McCarthy’s office, even behind the scenes. House Republicans did not participate this year in negotiations to keep the government funded.

Some Democrats said Ms. Pelosi’s public aversion to the minority leader is simply a symptom of the post-Trump political reality.

“This disdain is really part and parcel of where we are in the country between the parties and between people,” said Richard Gephardt, Democrat of Missouri and a former majority leader. “Congress is a reflection of the people. If the people are polarized and divided and hateful, then Congress is going to be the same.”

Mr. McCarthy and Ms. Pelosi were never close. But it was not always this bad.

Mr. McCarthy arrived in Congress in 2007 from the Central Valley in California, the same year Ms. Pelosi made history as the first woman to be elected speaker. It was not until 2014 that he rose to a leadership position, and Ms. Pelosi was gracious at the time about working opposite someone from a conservative swath of her home state.

“I certainly know him as a Californian,” she said at the time. “I wish him well.”

She added, “We can all work together, because that’s what the American people expect and deserve.”

That same year, Mr. McCarthy had written a column for a new political website, Breitbart California, which he said would help fill a “void of conservative activism” in his blue state. But after the site ran a boorish photoshopped image of Ms. Pelosi in a bikini, on all fours, Mr. McCarthy called the picture inappropriate and asked that his column be removed from the site.

In the intervening years, politics changed. Mr. McCarthy, playing the pleaser, earned the nickname “my Kevin” from Mr. Trump when he was in office. He helped to politically resuscitate Mr. Trump after the Jan. 6 attack, visiting him at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida estate, enlisting his help in the midterm elections and fighting the creation of an inquiry into the Capitol riot.

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