Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend, that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is like “Jell-O” and fails to take firm positions on important issues.
(This is not a legal transcript. Bloomberg LP cannot guarantee its accuracy.)
AL HUNT: We begin the show with the Democratic National Committee Chair, a member of Congress, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman, for being with us.
REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you for having me.
HUNT: You were in Hanover, New Hampshire, for the great Republican debate. You heard Mitt Romney say Barack Obama came to the presidency inexperienced. He had no private secular background. The country is mired in economic failure and divided. It’s time for a change.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I’m proud of the work that Barack Obama has been able to do and the progress that we’ve made, although we have a long way to go when it comes to getting the economy turned around.
HUNT: And how about Romney’s particular charges against him? What did you think of Romney in that debate?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, Mitt Romney is pretty difficult to pin down. It’s sort of like trying to nail down Jell-O. I like my candidates to have a little bit more courage of their conviction and stick to one position and not be all over the place whichever the wind blows. And I think that’s been a big problem for Mitt Romney.
HUNT: But don’t you think that Mitt Romney would be the toughest opponent for Barack Obama in the fall of 2012?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I think it doesn’t much matter which one of these nine Republicans is the nominee because they’re all interchangeable. They are all embracing the Tea Party. They are all completely right wing when it comes to the economy. They have no interest in focusing on the middle class and putting them back to work.
That was what was shocking to me, Al, was none of them in that very intimate opportunity that they had at the Bloomberg debate presented any proposals to help the middle class or create jobs that would put people back to work.
HUNT: And partners are requiring me to say that Bloomberg and Washington Post debate, but -
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Okay.
HUNT: - let me read a couple numbers to you. The president’s job approval is 45 percent. No president has ever been re-elected with numbers that low, consumer confidence index at 55.7 percent. No president has ever been re-elected when it was lower than 75 percent. It’s an uphill slog for Barack Obama.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, we’re 13 months out.
HUNT: That’s right.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: And we’re not really focused on polls right now. We are singularly focused on getting the economy moving again. We are trying to make sure that we can pass the American Jobs Act. The president is pushing that hard. It’s shocking that the Republicans in the United States Senate refuse to even allow a debate on that and shot that down in the vote this week. What are they opposed to? Are they opposed to putting $1,500 back in the pocket through a payroll tax cut to the average middle class family? Are they opposed to keeping teachers, police officers and firefighters on the job, or fixing bridges and roads?
HUNT: One bit of good news for you and the DNC is you’re flush with more money than at any time since the Clinton years. Now I know you’re worried about all these outside groups. I’ve heard that a lot, but what are you going to do with all that money? You have any new programs, new initiatives?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: We are going continue to run the type of grassroots campaign that Barack Obama ran in 2008. We will have the most robust, aggressive grassroots presidential campaign in American history. We are already up and running. We are putting the infrastructure in place, the neighborhood teams. We’ve got our volunteers engaged all over the country, enthusiastic really active volunteers. We have 13 months to go, but we are going to win this campaign because we’re not going to be outworked.
HUNT: Let me ask you one question about the White House. Recently Anita Dunn, a former top Obama aide, said that sexism is pervasive in this White House that she said if it was a private company we’d be in court for a hostile workplace. This is an issue you care a lot about, I know. Does that bother you that someone that high feels there’s such pervasive sexism?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I know Anita Dunn well. And I know that she disputes the accuracy of the way she was quoted (inaudible).
HUNT: Well, the context, but she still said there was a lot of sexism there.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: There - the example that Barack Obama has set for how we should address the issues important to women has been remarkable. The first bill he signed into law was a Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. He established the White House Council on Women and Girls to make sure that administration policies throughout all the agencies focus on the needs of women. He appointed not one, but two women to the Supreme Court with his only two Supreme Court appointments, including the first Latino. Barack Obama understands that we need to make sure that we level the playing field for women and help women make sure that they can get ahead and be prosperous.
HUNT: Would you like to see a few more women in the top echelons of the White House and the campaign?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: There are women in leadership positions throughout the campaign and throughout the administration.
HUNT: So it’s okay.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I think the president is doing great and has a wonderful record.
HUNT: Okay. Let’s turn to a couple issues. You mentioned the jobs bill. It’s been snared and parsed about. You hope it all gets through. Do you think that parts of it may be broken off? And if so what’s the more likely candidate to get through?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I think it would be irresponsible if the Republicans and the House don’t take up that bill.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: It would irresponsible for the Senate to vote it down or not even allow a debate on it. We need to have Republicans come to the table and work with Democrats on making sure that we can get -
HUNT: Payroll tax is the most likely to get through, how they -?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I certainly hope so.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Why would the Republicans not embrace that? The sad thing is you haven’t had them embrace it. These are guys in the House and the Senate, Republican members of Congress who’ve signed more no-new-taxes pledges than anyone in history.
HUNT: And this would be a tax increase.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: And this would be a tax increase. Why would they raise taxes on the middle class?
HUNT: Let me -
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: It’s unbelievable.
HUNT: Let me turn to China. You’ve been a critic of China manipulating its currency. You’re more with Mitt Romney on this issue than Barack Obama who really doesn’t want this legislation.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No. That’s not accurate.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: What President Obama’s position on this legislation is, is that we need to address China’s manipulation of their currency. There’s no question of that.
HUNT: But not legislatively.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No. We just need to make sure that in terms of the world institutions that we are a member of that we don’t run afoul of the policies there.
HUNT: You don’t think he’d sign that Senate bill though, do you?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I’m not - I - it’s hard to say. I think right now what we’re doing is making sure - that the administration is making sure that passing that legislation wouldn’t be for naught and that it wouldn’t be basically neutralized by our (inaudible).
HUNT: But passing it but not necessarily signing it.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No, no, no. What I’m saying is that -
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: - the administration just wants to make sure that the way we address China’s manipulation of their currency does not run afoul of our international agreements -
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: - because otherwise it’s not going to solve the problem.
HUNT: You did pass the Star Trade bills in the House recently, but that divides your party. I think Democrats were almost totally split on that. You voted for them -
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I did.
HUNT: - I believe. Is that something that’s going to cause problems for the party next year because of the opposition to some of these trade pacts?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I don’t think so. It wasn’t - I’ve seen our trade debates before. We’ve had much more vigorous and divisive trade debates. This one I think a lot of progress has been made especially with Colombia and with South Korea. These are much better trade agreements after they were renegotiated by President Obama. They address environmental concerns, address labor concerns. There was still - there’s some angst among Democrats, but I think because it will help give a shot in the arm to the economy and create jobs for Americans it’s a good thing overall.
HUNT: You’ve got a president who’s facing a tough economy. Redistricting slightly helped the Republicans, maybe not as much as they had hoped for. They have a 242 to 195 margin, I think in the House now. Tell me what the House will look like in January of 2013. Can you win control? And do you think you will and by how much?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I think Democrats will retake control of the House of Representatives.
HUNT: You do?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I do. We have to win 25 seats. There are 61 seats currently held by Republicans that were won by John Kerry or Barack Obama. Forty-seven of those were won by both. And we have to win 25. Because you have the Tea Party that has such a stranglehold on the House Republican caucus they refuse to allow anything through that would help the middle class, haven’t done anything to create jobs in almost 11 months that they’ve been in charge. I think that they’ve gotten a test run, these Tea Party members of Congress, and they’re going to be rejected.
HUNT: Madam Chairwoman, thank you so much for being with us today.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you so much.
HUNT: I appreciate it.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Nice to be with you.
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