Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt” airing this weekend that Republicans have been “shockingly out of touch” on women’s issues, and she is confident the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold President Barack Obama’s health-care law.
(This is not a legal transcript. Bloomberg LP cannot guarantee its accuracy.)
AL HUNT: Welcome back. Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz joins us now from Florida. Thank you, Madame Chairwoman. You have said that Mitt Romney is the weakest - will be the weakest nominee in many a year, and yet actually he’s doing better against Obama than Bill Clinton was doing in ’92 or then others were doing in previous elections. It’s going to be a close election, isn’t it?
DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Oh, there’s no question that this is going to be a competitive and close election. And what I actually said was that he’s coming out of this primary as the most unpopular potential nominee, or likely nominee, in recent history and possibly in the history of polling.
And that’s because voters understand that throughout this primary he has demonstrated that he’s willing to say or do anything to get elected; he’s someone without a core, without any convictions.
HUNT: Let me ask you about the Supreme Court decision on the health-care law. After hearing the arguments, do you think it’s more likely the court will overturn or uphold the law?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I’m confident that, like President Obama said the other day, that the Supreme Court will ultimately uphold the law as constitutional. Congress has the ability to regulate commerce; that’s part of the United States Constitution. It’s clearly impactful when somebody makes a decision not to carry health insurance, and that decision affects everyone all over America and increases all of our health-care costs. That is directly commerce-related and I believe it will be upheld.
HUNT: Some Republicans say the president stepped over the bounds or he was foolish to say that the court, if it overturned the law, would be engaged in judicial activism. The courts have been overturning laws going back to Chief Justice Marshall. Was he foolish?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: What the president was saying - and remember, the president was a constitutional law professor before he was president of the United States, so he certainly understands what the role of the Supreme Court is. But it’s not the role of the Supreme Court, as the president said, to overreach and to look beyond the Constitution. He believes, as I do, that the Constitution is clear on its face and the Affordable Care Act should be upheld.
HUNT: Tell me, size up the role that money is going to play in this national election and which side will have the advantage?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, Mitt Romney has been the benefactor - the beneficiary of already tens of millions and will ultimately be the beneficiary of hundreds of millions of dollars in special interest money, super-PACs that are going to dump, just like they did - he’s been doing throughout this primary, hundreds of millions of dollars in negative attack ads. He’s been relentless about that.
President Obama’s campaign and the Democratic Party is fueled by people. We reached a million online donors six months sooner this time, grass roots donors, than we did in the 2008 election -
HUNT: But isn’t there - there’s an Obama super-PAC -
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: He has a -
HUNT: - that will do the same thing.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Yes. There is a Priorities USA super-PAC that I would bet probably won’t raise the hundreds of millions of dollars that the myriad of super-PACs that exist that will ultimately support the Republican nominee will be dumping into this race. And that’s actually had consequences for Mitt Romney, besides the fact that he will clearly be beholden to special interests.
HUNT: You have charged that the Republicans are waging a war on women. They say that’s nonsense; the gender gap issue will disappear as we get closer, at least it will erode as we get closer to the election. And then the Democrats, in fact, have a Catholic problem.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, it’s clear in this country that the jury of women across America have ruled, that the Republicans have been unbelievably extreme and out of touch and hyper-focused on cultural issues. While we are supposed to be focusing, and should be, as President Obama has been, focused on getting the economy turned around and continuing to move us forward and create jobs, their side is obsessed with cultural issues.
Mitt Romney, all he could muster as a response to Rush Limbaugh calling a young woman a slut for standing up for her belief that we should have affordable access to birth control in this country was that those weren’t he words he would have chosen.
You’ve got laws across the country, supported by Mitt Romney, that would impose personhood amendments in state constitutions, that would limit access to fertility treatments for women.
You have the governor of Pennsylvania, who said in response to legislation that may come to his desk that would require an ultrasound before a woman has the right to terminate her pregnancy, that she has to look at the ultrasound and the screen has to face her.
And Governor Corbett in Pennsylvania, all he could say was, “Well, the woman can close her eyes. It’s not intrusive.” That’s shockingly out of touch -
HUNT: And do you have a -
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: - and that’s why there is now an 18- point --Hold on, Al. That’s why there’s an 18-point gender gap, that President Obama is supported by women in this country over Mitt Romney or any of the field by 18 points.
HUNT: Conversely, do you have a Catholic problem?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No, I think on the contrary. If you look at the support for President Obama among Catholics, among most Americans, he’s even - as you look at the Battleground Poll that came out a few days ago, President Obama is beating Mitt Romney head-to-head in my state, head-to-head in battleground states across this country.
HUNT: Madame Chairwoman, let me ask you this, because you’re delivering conflicting messages. Is Mitt Romney a flip- flopper who will change his positions according to what’s popular or is he a hard-right conservative? He can’t be both. Which is he?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No, you see, that’s the problem with Mitt Romney, is that he is willing to be anything he needs to be at any given time. Throughout this entire primary, he has embraced extremism. The positions that he has taken, which he doesn’t take for very long because he changes them at a moment’s notice, but they’ve been extreme. He’s embraced the Tea Party ideology, supports the Ryan budget that ends Medicare as we know it.
But then, really, you can see that Mitt Romney’s standing in quicksand, Al. None of his positions have any conviction because he’s willing to change them at the drop of a hat. And if there’s anything that we need in America, it’s that we need to have confidence that we know where our president stands, whether we agree with them or not, especially in difficult economic times and especially when times get tough in terms of foreign policy.
HUNT: OK. Final, a non-presidential question. Republicans say they are poised to take over the Senate; they’re going to win Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Hawaii. Things are looking very good for them to control the Senate. What’s your take on that?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: My take is that they are living in a fairy tale. The American people have been making it clear and the polling recently has demonstrated that the progress that we’ve made economically, although we have a long way to go, is encouraging. People are feeling confident again and they want us to work together.
And most of all, they want to support President Obama and Democrats in Congress’s policies of helping the middle class be successful and not just focus on people who are already doing quite well and make sure they can do even better, which is what Romney and the Republicans feel and my Republican colleagues in Congress have done.
HUNT: You keep the Senate, then?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Yes. I think we hold the Senate and I think we have the - I think we take the House back as well.
HUNT: OK. Madame Chairwoman, thank you very much and have a happy holiday.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you.
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