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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Wasserman Schultz defends her handling of primary, 'surprised' at Rubio and Jeb's showing in Florida

21

January

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz continued to respond to criticism Thursday over the way she has managed the Democratic National Committee, as Bernie Sanders' supporters suggest she has shown favoritism to Hillary Clinton in the presidential primary.

"The party chair is going to absorb criticism from any candidates, partisans, and it's just the way it is,'' she said after a press conference on guns in the Florida Capitol. "These are people that simply are expressing the normal, understandable frustration over what they think is a sinister thing over every corner. I have to just block that noise out and focus on doing my job. I'm from Florida. I have the skin of an alligator."

Wasserman Schultz, a Broward Democrat, acknowledged she came to Tallahassee to do fundraising for the Florida Democratic Party, her own campaign and the DNC. She said she plans to continue to serve the "full tenure" of our four-year term which ends the day after the inauguration and she deflected criticism that, as former co-chair of Hillary Clinton's unsuccessful 2008 campaign for president, that she is favoring Clinton. 

"If I wanted to favor a candidate, I would not be DNC chair and I would support that candidate,'' she said. "It's a pretty convoluted way to help a candidate when I have to actually function neutrally as the DNC chair."

When asked what the chances were that Bernie Sanders, a self-avowed socialist, of winning the Florida primary, she said she wouldn't handicap the race.

"I'm neutral and my job is to make sure we are getting our party ready,'' she said. "So I don't know what the chances are and I'm not spending any time analyzing the chances of any one of our three candidates. What i do know, is that on each of our debate stages the next president of the United States has stood. Any one of our candidates will beat whatever their nominee is. Because the American people are with us, they want us to build on the economic success."

"To listen to any one of the Republican candidates for president, the Bush years were the glory days we should go back to when we were losing 800,000 jobs a month, when we lost 8 million jobs, when you had people declaring bankruptcy to be able to pay for their health care costs. That's where each one of hte candidates on the Republican side want to drag us back and we're not going back and the American people are going to support our party's nominees. We'll have the sixth of hte seventh presidential election where the Democratic nominee has won."

She said she was surprised that both Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio could lose Florida in the GOP primary, based on the current polls that show them fourth and fifth in the GOP line-up.

"It certainly is surprising that two people, who I would deem as being among the conservative wing of the Republican Party, is that they have been swallowed whole by the Tea Party and the extremists have taken over,'' she said. "It's not about feeling sorry for Jeb and Marco, and the "more establishment" wing of the party -- although I wouldn't put Marco in that category where he tries to be all things to all people.

"It's really that they willingly embraced extremism in order to preserve power. When people ask me who do we want the most to run against, or who do we fear the most, it doesn't matter. They are all the same. None of them have aggressively criticized their front-runner, Donald Trump, who says that we should bar en entire religion's people, simply because of who they are, from entering the country, who has said we should eject 11 million immigrants into this country who are simply here to make a better life for them and their families, who have not called out his misogyny and anti-woman rhetoric and that's because they fear alienating this right-wing Tea Party base that controls their party now."

 

[Last modified: Thursday, January 21, 2016 1:49pm]

    

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