Washington (CNN)Sen. Barbara Boxer's decision to retire in 2016 left House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi stunned Thursday, the news dropping in the middle of pre-scheduled House press conference.
Pelosi on Boxer retirement: 'What?'
Asked about her fellow California Democrat's announcement that she won't seek re-election in 2016 on Thursday morning, Pelosi's immediate response was: "What?"
Boxer had called Pelosi before making the announcement, but Pelosi missed the call and, figuring it wasn't urgent, hadn't returned it immediately because she was set to start a news conference.
"It's funny -- she called me, she said she wanted to talk to me personally," Pelosi told reporters. "I thought she wanted to maybe have dinner with me tonight."
An emotional Pelosi said the two and their families have been close, attending the others' weddings and showers and more. She said Boxer's departure will be "a great loss."
"She's really a great leader for our country -- small in size, but a giant in terms of her contribution," Pelosi said.