It was a kinder, gentler Debbie Wasserman Schultz who spoke with Politico’s Mike Allen on Wednesday.
The Democratic National Committee chairwoman was the guest at a breakfast meeting held by the publication and she spoke on several occasions of working together with her conservative counterparts.
“We can’t satisfy the extremes of either political party, we have to try to come together,” said Wasserman Schultz. “And that’s what we’re hoping Republicans will make an effort to do.”
The one-month-in DNC chairwoman prided herself in “knowing where I stand,” although that self-assurance has recently brought press scrutiny for her tendency to lob hyperbolic, and occasionally flat-wrong, attacks at her Republican counterparts. While Wasserman Schultz was moderately tame during the morning conversation about the upcoming presidential election, she still expressed excitement over engaging Republicans, particularly in her home state.
“I hope the Republican candidates campaign in Florida with the [Paul Ryan budget plan],” said Wasserman Schultz, who a few minutes earlier attempted to highlight the differences between mainstream Democrats and Republicans.
“There are two completely divergent directions that this country could go,” said Wasserman Schultz. “We could go in the direction that the Republicans want to take us, which would end Medicare as we know it, which would pull the safety net out from under our senior citizens, which would focus tax-cutting policy as Tim Pawlenty unbelievably doubled down on … ”
Wasserman Schultz gave the audience a peep of her bulldog style, calling the 2012 Republican candidates “deeply flawed”and politely tweaking Jon Huntsman for not having differentiated himself from Obama. And current front-runner Mitt Romney?
“Mitt Romney’s problem is that Mitt Romney needs to have a debate with himself about who he is,” said the DNC chairwoman to audible chuckling. ” … [Voters] don’t like to see people who from year-to-year, from month-to-month, from week-to-week people who are sticking their fingers in the wind and checking which way it blows.”
As for Democrats’ fingers before the 2012 winds, Wasserman Schultz continued with the party’s plan of attack, saying that despite the rough economy Obama inherited, the president will continue to “quicken the pace of the economy.” Pressed by an CNN’s Ed Henry as to when Democrats will “own the economy” Wasserman Schultz said “”Oh, I think we clearly are responsible for the — I am going to take ownership right now.”
Actual unemployment figures aside, pundits and strategists predict the economy may be Republican’s biggest weapon against Obama in 2012. The Republican National Committee’s rapid response team gleefully posted a clip of the aforementioned quote before lunchtime.
Apart from taking credit for the economy, Wasserman Schultz repeated that Democrats plan to target the Hispanic voting bloc in 2012, although she was “not optimistic about immigration reform.”
As general of a party’s attack machine, partisan characterizations — Democrats are a “coalition of diverse groups” while the Republicans need to break away from the “fringe” element — were to be expected, but Wasserman Schultz did repeat her call for fellow Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner to step down.
“I think that the best conclusion is that he should focus on addressing his problems and resign from the House,” she said. Wasserman Schultz added later, “When we got to the end of one week — that’s what expired, one week — and he had not reached that conclusion, I felt it was important to publicly state what I thought his decision should be.”
Wasserman Schultz said she was unsure if or when Weiner may make a decision, although there is speculation he may resign by the end of the week.
Asked by Allen what opportunities the DNC chairwoman has had to work with House conservatives, Wasserman Schultz said there were “individual Republicans that I’ve found are wonderful to work with,” including Aaron Schock, Dan Webster, and Lamar Smith.
That compliment, however, ended with a caveat.
“[Republicans] know how to compromise, they just can’t seem to break their fear of what the ramifications would be from the Tea Party, the right-wing fringe, if they listened to what their inner-self tells them what’s the right thing to do.”
Such a wonderful thing to say!