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tv   Newsmakers  CSPAN  May 27, 2012 6:00pm-6:30pm EDT

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example of that generation, that we will allow the momentum of democracy to stall and take for granted the institutions and principles upon which our own freedom is based and forget what the history of this century reminds us -- that problems abroad left unattended will all too often come home to america. >> watch commencement speakers by notable figures from the past three decades, online at the c- span video library. host: joining us is representative debbie wasserman schultz, the chair of the democratic national committee. thanks so much for being with us. joining us with questions alexis simendinger, thank you. and felicia sonmez, the political reporter of the "the washington post". let me ask you the broad question about this campaign.
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is that a referendum on the president or choice election between democrats and republicans? guest: this is absolutely going to be a choice between two dramatically different directions. we could continue to go in the direction president obama has been taking as after he inherited the largest set of problems of any president since fdr, where we were bleeding 750,000 jobs per month. to now three years later, we had 26 straight months of job growth and the private sector. a resurgence in the manufacturing sector, a rescue of the automobile industry. we brought the troops home from iraq. and the contrast, the different choice is to go in the direction of mitt romney, where a millionaires and billionaires who are doing quite well.
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mitt romney proposes to make sure they do even better, where he would propose to the budget to end medicare as we know it. pull the safety net from out from under the seniors. he has repeatedly said that we should make sure we can change the tax code so that we can increase --and is doing nothing to fight for the middle class. and supported making sure that detroit could have gone bankrupt and that crisis. so the extremism that has been embraced by mitt romney and the republicans threw the tea party gives voterse a dramatic choice. host: your republican colleagues are talking about a sluggish economic recovery, high gas prices, and a record high deficit under this administration. guest: my republican colleagues have done nothing to help.
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they have been focused on one job -- barack obama's. mitch mcconnell, their top leader, who at the outset of this congress that his number one priority was not getting the economy turned around, it was defeating barack obama. republicans at every turn have refused to work with this president. speaker john boehner walked away from an opportunity for historic deficit reduction, $4 trillion debt ceiling deal that we could have embraced last summer. as it is, we as democrats embraced $1.50 trillion in deficit reduction. it was a cut only approach. now the republicans are insisting on more significant cuts. we cannot cut our way to deficit reduction. we need deficit reduction but it has to be done and a balanced way. we have to give an opportunity for everyone to have a fair shot at success and everyone to pay their fair share and to play by the same set of rules.
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the republicans seem to want to do what most economists say we should not do that is cut so much so fast that we would dramatically slow down recovered. we have made a tremendous amount of progress. we need to make more. we will make more of the republicans will sit down and stop trying to focus on defeating barack obama and focus on what democrats are focused on which is creating jobs and continuing to get this economy moving. host: let me turn to felicia sonmez of "the washington post". guest: curious on the issue of democrats trying to turn this into a choice election. this was a pretty rocky roll out this week, the argument that democrats have made, when it comes to mitt romney and his tenure at bain capital. some democrats and top members of party have come out and said this is not the direction the campaign should be going in.
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have you reconsider those attacks at all? guest: not at all. if you look at the feedback through polling that we have now that i can tell you in travelling around the country, plus the added benefit of polling that shows that the president is ahead in key battleground states, there is a reason for that. our methods of making sure that everybody in america has a fair shot at being successful, that everybody should play by the same rules and that we should make sure that we do not focus on people are already doing well, to make sure they can do even better is resonating. that is what president obama is ahead. he did rescue the american automobile industry when mitt romney would have let him them go bankrupt if he is ahead when it comes to the priorities of hispanicarate commu-- the community. he is for immigration reform. he is making sure we can close the achievement of for hispanic-
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americans by ensuring that we make strategic investments and not just drastically cut our budget, like the republicans have proposed. so that we can give people an opportunity, especially when the industry is through economic downturns are beginning to evolve. some are going to continue and the same way and others will not. we need to make sure we invest in job training, educational opportunities, so at the next stage of americans careerist they have a lot of different opportunities instead of remaining stagnant, which is what would happen if mitt romney became president. a couple of democrats have come out in the race in arizona and and have sought to put distance between themselves and the president. is that something that is at odds with your job being dnc chair and involved to retake the house. what is your advice to candidates that may be running in districts where the president
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did not win last time? guest: our advice is to run the race that they know how to run, to do what we have been doing at the national level, which is running the most significant grass-roots social campaign in history. we expect and encourage each candidate for congress and candidates across the country to in the greatest tradition of big d democratic campaigns, keeping in it -- their fingers on the pulse of their constituency, knocking on doors and making phone calls. if they do that, then our opportunities to take the house back and hold onto the senate will be exponentially increased. so that is what we encourage and as a member of congress myself and a candidate who runs for reelection, that is the kind of race i will be running. it is the kind of race i have always run. that is quite different than republicans who run special
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interests-fuelled campaign so, where they are backed by literally hundreds of millions of dollars in super pac money. we are powered by the people. the president's campaign, the average contribution is $50. mitt romney, not so much. it is the -- less than 20% of his contributors have contributed under $200. host: alexis simendinger who covers the white house and politics. guest: i was listening carefully any were talking about president obama being a head. we have seen a lot of polling suggesting that these two candidates in may are head to head. i'm interested in your, i guess the assurance that you have that the democratic party is going in the right direction with some of the harsh rhetoric, the early negative campaigning, and president obama taking mitt romney head on. are you concerned that independent voters are seeing a narrative about president obama
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that may not pay off by november? guest: on the contrary. what i am confident about is that mitt romney, who has made the central premise of his candidacy his experience at bain capital. that is the case he is putting forth for the american people and why he is saying we should elect him president. a close examination of his record is really important. we need to make sure that there it is, that we open up the ho od and take a good look. the other thing we need to take a good look at, which is why mitt romney focuses on his private sector and spirits, is his abysmal record as governor of massachusetts. the only opportunity he has had to show us how he would be a job creator as governor puts massachusetts 47-50 in job creation and put that state and a very difficult fiscal situation. students had a 56% increase in
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the amount that acosta got a college there. it is just that there are some examples. the one example that you could say is good that he dared which she runs from which is his health care reform law, that is making sure that people in massachusetts have health insurance to take care of themselves. guest: mitt romney suggested that if he would present he would have an unemployment down 6% or better by the end of his first term. what president obama do better if he was reelected and got another four years in office? guest: president obama were a main focus on creating jobs and getting this economy turned around and on reaching across the aisle and inviting our republican colleagues to sit down to try to work together towards that goal and not be so focused on one job, the one that is in the white house. that is what we are focused on.
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we have gone from where we were bleeding 750,000 jobs a month at the beginning of his term. he inherited the largest set of problems of any president since fdr. after three years, he has brought it up to where we have created jobs for 26 straight months, created more than 4.2 million jobs. we had a resurgence in the manufacturing industry and we will continue to make progress. we have a long way to go. we should definitely make more progress if republicans are willing to sit down and take a balanced approach to deficit reduction, take a balanced approach to try to create jobs and work with us. they are pursuing only one goal and that is winning an election. it is harmful to our economic opportunity prepare. the: wjehen one of president's top fund-raisers is with bain capital, does that not weaken the argument you're
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making against mitt romney? >> guest: it doesn't at all. comparing individual donors to mitt romney's record at bain capital is like comparing apples and coconuts. it is not even apples and apples. at the end of the day, mitt romney says the reason we should elect him president is because of his private sector experience for 25 years. we will take a close look at that experience. the company in miami, they forced into bankruptcy, laid off thousands of people, left creditors with less than pennies on pennies and pennies on the dollar. and walked away making a few hundred million dollars. $100 million. that is not a bad day's work if you can get it. nothing wrong with success, but when you are basing the premise of your candidacy for president on how you ran your own business, how you treated
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employees, leaving them without jobs, leaving creditors without being paid and you walking away and making a profit, that is something american people should have to look at and decide whether that is the type of individual it was occupying the white house. we think they are going to say they do not and they want to continue to support president obama who is fighting for working families and has given many more millions of americans an opportunity to be successful pa. guest: i want to look at two upcoming races. one of them being the wisconsin recall of governor scott walker and the special election for the seat formerly held by gabby giffords. on the wisconsin race, is this a race that democrats underestimated? and now looks like walker is ahead in the polls. i understand you are going to the state this upcoming week. should the dnc have gotten more involved from the start? there has been some calls from
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democrats that the should have and money put into this race from the beginning prepar. guest: there is no way we would ever be able to counter the massive efforts that were dropped into wisconsin by republican special interests, the tens of millions of dollars they have been spending. the fact that scott walker is having to defend in the middle of his term, remaining governor, with over 1 million signatures of wisconsin voters who were really disturbed by the direction he was taking the state. that we have to have another election. that tells you something about how extreme scott walker has been when it came to the policies, particularly as it relates to workers in his state, but also the takeover by the republican party by the tea party. that is why they are sending all of their stream mixed into the state. that is why those millions of dollars are being funneled in. we have deployed the entire
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grassroots operation. we have put more than $250,000 into the race already. i am going to the state on tuesday. we sent out an email to our more than 2 million plus a donor base from the democratic party telling them this is the first important national election is the june 5 election to recall scott walker and elect mayor tom barrett. but it is our considerable grass-roots daughter base and we know that we will give them an infusion as a result of that effort. we expect over the next week and a half that we will have surrogates come in and our really sophisticated get-out- the-vote operation will be helping to turn our borders and support of mayor barrett in what is a close election. understandably, given that what we are trying to do is elect someone to replace a sitting
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governor in the middle of their term. not an easy task. guest: what do you believe will be the repercussions for the democrats if they end up losing? guest: honestly, there will not be any repercussions. it is an election based in wisconsin. it is an election that i think is important nationally because scott walker is an example of how extreme the tea party has been when it comes to the policies that they have pushed the republicans to adopt. but i think it will be, at the end of the day, of wisconsin- based collection. like i said, across the rest of the country and including in wisconsin president obama is ahead in the polls. and in other battleground states. that is because of voters and america understand that we should be focused on fighting to create jobs. and not focus like scott walker and mitt romney and tea party
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have been in helping millionaires and billionaires continue to do even better and making sure that the middle class really can just fend for themselves. guest: of the obama campaign is very concerned about having enough money, trying to raise enough money for this race, concerned about the republican super pacss. . there is some friction as we know among house and senate candidates about their races and whether there will be enough money to share with them at the end. the instruction from the obama campaign is to raise your own money. do you agree with that? will there be money down the road for those candidates? the second question is, you are the first dnc chair since citizens united. can you reflect on how that his change your thinking about strategy? guest: sure. those are both good questions. the races for the house and for
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the senate, like we always have will bea dct the dnc, coordinated to our campaigns on the ground. we will be assisting with resources. i know i will be doing e-mails on behalf of candidates for congress to their donor bases, to other donor basis. we are strongly encouraging contributions to go forom our grass-roots to those candidates. we are working very closely with state parties to make sure that there is a strong, according to campaign on the ground. it will be the way that we can use our significant grassroots operation at district by district across the country to help pull these candidates over the top. as for dnc chair since citizens united, tim kaine was in the 2010 election and that is what we saw the advent of super pacs, you got a glimpse of how bad
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thatdecisions impact was in 2010, were at the last minute you had millions of dollars dumped into races by opaque, corporate contributors who have no accountability whatsoever. and that makes it so that those who are ultimately collected are beholden to whether it is that those resources can from. it takes the people out of the campaign. what we are doing in the democratic party is making sure that while republicans are engaged in a circular firing squad during a primary, we are in the process of setting up the most cent of the grass-roots campaign in history. by way of example, a couple of weeks ago, i found it humorous and that the romney campaign touted opening their first office in pennsylvania on the same day that the obama
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campaign, we opened our 24th office in pennsylvania. we are doing the work necessary to turn the voters of. we have neighborhood skiing's deployed, thousands and thousands of door knocks and phone calls. in addition to that, have a grassroots funded campaign by our more than $2 million, the average contribution of which is $60. host: we have five minutes left parker. guest: i'm wondering your thoughts on the race in florida. a tight race between the president and mitt romney. guest: as always. guest: as always. wondering your thoughts on what will happen there. will marco rubio help him or hurt him? guest: floor that is always the mother of all battleground states. we know how important florida
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is. which is why we have a significant and massive voter turnout operation that we are deploying and developing. when you look at the issues that matter to florida voters and when you look at the economy and job creation, when you look at immigration reform, when you look at medicare and social security, on all of those issues which drive the voters to the polls, president obama has been fighting to make sure that we can maintain medicare and social security as a safety net. while mitt romney has embraced the ryan budget plan that would end medicare and shred the safety net and seniors with no floor and potentially where they could fall right through it. that is unacceptable. hispanic voters in florida, very concerned about mitt romney being the most extreme presidential candidate in history on immigration. they want to make sure we have a president who understands that the dream that should become
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law, that comprehensive immigration reform should pass, and that we should have opportunities in america for everybody to be successful. that is what i think barack obama will win floor. marco rubio in polling does not make much difference. in some cases, he hurts mitt romney or does very little. marco rubio is not something of belongs on the national took it. host: if jeb bush were on the took it,icket? guest: i don't think so. you have the candidate in mitt romney that this ought to step on the priorities for florida voters -- medicare, immigration, jobs and the economy. the tax policy where mitt romney has focused almost exclusively on hoping millionaires and billionaires do even better. and president obama passed 18 different tax breaks for small business owners. he is fighting to make sure that
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the middle class kids a fair opportunity to be successful, mitt romneyuhbush, have always -- jeb bush was focused on cutting taxes for people who certainly did not need it. as a result, we had pretty significant effects in education -- cuts in education and social services. guest: let me follow up. if all that is true, what you just described, the issues and the importance, what isn't romney head to head or even the head? why? guest: because this was always be a close election. the last two elections have been battleground elections. it is understandable. we have an economy that is in
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fragile recovery. people want to see more progress. they are willing to to go look at what an alternative is offering her the alternative is offering an opportunity to go back to the failed policies of the past where mitt romney would take us back to a time when we had a tax policy focused on fabulously successful people, to a time when we spent money we did not have and blew a hole in our deficit, and to a time when we were at a place internationally where we had almost no respect in the world from allies are around the country and around the world and had little opportunity to have any influence on world affairs. that is not a direction i think ultimately when voters and get to the point in the year when they make their decision, that is what i think it will decide to send barack obama back to the white house. guest: i want to ask a question about your own personal ambitions and weather running for the democratic leadership,
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for the speakership or possibly minority leader, is that something that would be interesting to you? and also in the near term, are you planning on running for reelection this coming year? guest: oh, yeah. i'm 100% running for reelection and have entered my campaign is active and ongoing i am focused on my reelection. i am going back to my constituents and asking them for my support. i have run a guest -- grass- roots campaign. knocked on 25,000 doors. it is a privilege to represent my constituents. i am focused on that and reelecting barack obama and nothing else until after november 6. guest: the think if democrats do not retake the house this year, should the members of leadership, such as in nancy pelosi and steny hoyer, should they step aside for a new guard, clyde under generation of leaders? -- a younger generation of
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leaders? guest: our focus should be on electing a 25 plus democrats that we need to make sure that nancy pelosi will be speaker and we can make sure that we have an opportunity to continue to support barack obama in his efforts to fight for the middle- class and working families and get this economy turned around. of. host: you can try to control a campaign and the message, but what worries you the most in the next six months? what is the biggest uncertainty as chair of the democratic party that concerns you the most? guest: as an american, what continues to concern me the most is that we need to work together, to focus on getting this economy to continue to move forward, and to make the progress we have made under president obama and to create jobs and make sure all americans have an opportunity to be successful. that is what keeps me up at
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night as a policymaker and as the head of the national party. i really would love as a mom, frankly, to see, to go back to work next tuesday in washington and see a bunch of my republican colleagues decide that they should put aside the polarization, the divisiveness and start focusing on the outcome -- stop focusing on the up, and won election and realize that it is important for us to work together. host: debbie wasserman schultz joining us from florida, the chair of the democratic national committee. thanks for being with us this memorial day weekend. thanks for your time. let me follow up on your point about fund raising. you have been writing about the problems of the dnc in raising money. what is going on? guest: one of the things they are encountering, especially when elite is some reluctance to
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want to contribute to obama supporting super pacs. they are concerned about that, are really trying to work harder on the messaging among democrats to show some enthusiasm and to contribute to what they hope will be some sort of parity. obviously, the republicans have concerns. mitt romney has turned out to be a terrific fund-raiser. he is doing at every single day, wasting no opportunity to build up what he may have lost while he was fighting in the primary. so i hear anxiety every day at the white house or among the campaign, folks from chicago, that they are suspecting that the road is going to get much tougher for them ahead with the kind of money republicans have to spend if. host: in "the washington post" on friday, you pose the question to the chair of party of trying to distance themselves from the president. this is not unusual any time you have any democrat or republican and the white house.
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but is it different in 2012? guest: you areidat more early in the cycle starting to distance himself. barber has two weeks left in his race. other candidates in states like north dakota, states where the president is not expected to do very well. you are seeing it as an earlier point in the cycle. that could end up not boding well for the president. answer isss'womans interesting. they have to allow members to run their own races. whether or not that means in a state like arizona, for instance, where the president is hoping to ride the coattails of some candidates who are running down ballot. there you've got a reverse coat tail effect. it's a sign of the

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