Congress

White House, Democratic Party offer defense of embattled chairwoman

Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz speaks to reporters following the final presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida on Monday, October 22, 2012. (Amy Beth Bennett/Sun Sentinel/MCT)
Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz speaks to reporters following the final presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida on Monday, October 22, 2012. (Amy Beth Bennett/Sun Sentinel/MCT) MCT

The White House and the Democratic National Committee offered detailed defenses of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Thursday after the South Florida lawmaker was shredded in a prominent story about her tenure as head of the party organization.

In a lengthy piece in Politico, a Washington-based news organization, Wasserman Schultz was criticized for having a rocky, distant relationship with the Obama White House, and the story – driven in large part by unnamed sources – indicated her tenure might be limited.

While recounting a range of transgressions – from inopportune statements to conflicts over who would cover her clothing budget – the article concluded that the congresswoman “is in a behind-the-scenes struggle with the White House, congressional Democrats and Washington insiders who have lost confidence in her as both a unifying leader and reliable party spokesperson at a time when they need her most.”

Wasserman Schultz, from Weston, Fla., has been chairwoman of the party organization since 2011 and previously served as vice chairwoman.

A spokesman for the congresswoman said Thursday that she was traveling and pointed to a statement from the party.

Democratic National Committee press secretary Michael Czin said Wasserman Schultz has “worked tirelessly for President Obama and Democrats up and down the ballot in her three and a half years at the helm of the DNC. That’s why President Obama reappointed her following his own re-election.” Czin went on to detail the number of cities she had visited and the number of states she had covered, as well as the amount of money the organization had raised during her tenure.

He said her accomplishments at the DNC speak for themselves, adding that hers was “a record anyone would be proud of.”

The White House echoed that litany of accomplishment.

Like the party, White House spokesman Josh Earnest cited the “37 states and 99 different cities” she had been to recently and detailed the fact that the party had succeeded in paying off its debt and that it now has a surplus.

“So that doesn’t happen by accident,” Earnest said. “That happens because of the dogged determination of Chairwoman Wasserman Schultz and the rest of the staff at the DNC, like I said, that does really good work outside of the spotlight, and they don’t get the credit they often deserve.”

He said she “has a pretty strong record of performance.”

Earnest was asked further if the president has “complete confidence in Debbie Wasserman Schultz as the DNC chair.”

After some back-and-forth with the questioner, Earnest said, “Based on the strong track record of leadership that she has already demonstrated at the DNC, the president has strong confidence in her ability to lead that organization.”

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