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Public Statements

MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript

Interview

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MR. MATTHEWS: In two days, the Rules Committee of the Democratic National Committee will decide or try to decide one of the most contentious issues in this whole presidential race this year -- what to do about Florida and Michigan. And lawyers for the party say the rules call for both states to lose at least half their delegates when they get to the convention.

Does this hurt Clinton's chances of cutting into Obama's lead at this point? Florida U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is the national co-chair of the Clinton campaign. Thank you for joining us, Congressman. And Florida Congressman Robert Wexler is an Obama supporter; both from Florida with different views.

I want to go with Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz first.

What is this about? Is this fight about seating delegates, or is it really about Hillary's last chance to be the nominee of the party?

REP. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No, it's actually even bigger than that. This is nothing short of a fight to make sure that the Democratic nominee, no matter who that is, can win the general election in November. If, on Saturday, the DNC Rules Committee decides to do anything less than seat our full delegation at the convention, then we are jeopardizing our opportunity to win the general election in November.

MR. MATTHEWS: You mean, full, as if you'd never done anything wrong.

REP. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Florida has suffered enough penalty. The voters in Florida did not break any rules. They followed the rules. The state law in Florida set the primary on January 29th. We had a record turnout. And, you know, I would hope that my good friend Robert Wexler would agree that we should not go into this general election with one hand tied behind our back, which is what we'd be doing if we do anything short of seating our full delegation. I mean, what's the point? It's pointless.

MR. MATTHEWS: And you'd be saying the same thing if you were for Obama, right? You'd be saying the same thing.

REP. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I'm a Floridian, and I am a Floridian first. No matter what candidate I support, I'd fight to make sure that my voters get their votes counted.

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MR. MATTHEWS: Would the Clinton campaign agree that once Florida's delegates are accepted, even if 100 percent of them are accepted, full credit, as if there had been no violation of the rules, will the candidates both agree that the person who gets the most elected delegates is the nominee? Will they agree to go by the count of elected delegates? If that's going to be the biggest fight, getting credit for all the elected delegates, and you're leading that fight down there, shouldn't those elected delegates decide who wins?

REP. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: But Chris, that's not the rules. The rules are --

MR. MATTHEWS: See --

REP. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: -- the Democratic Party provides for a combination of types of delegates that make the selection for the Democratic nominee. We have elected delegates, we have pledged delegates, we have at-large delegates, and we have super-delegates. And it is not any one type of delegate that ultimately determines who the nominee is. So when we have a combination --

MR. MATTHEWS: So you're fighting for the accreditation of all your delegates. But at the end of the game, you don't think the elected delegates should decide this thing. They could be overruled by the super-delegates, you think.

REP. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Chris, we should -- if the refrain that has occurred throughout this campaign has been "We need to follow the rules," we need to follow all the rules. We can't pick and choose among the rules that we like or dislike.

MR. MATTHEWS: But the rules are -- well the problem is, Florida broke the rules. Go ahead.

REP. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: The nominee is selected -- no, Florida didn't break the rules.

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, you did.

REP. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, the Republican legislature made a decision.

MR. MATTHEWS: And the Democrats voted with --

REP. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: The Florida Democratic Party --

MR. MATTHEWS: How did the Democrats vote in the legislature?

REP. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: The Democrats in the legislature voted for a total elections package in which this one provision was a part of.

MR. MATTHEWS: Okay.

REP. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: That is not an endorsement of the moving of the primary outside of the window. But we're way beyond that. The bottom line here, you know, Chris --

MR. MATTHEWS: Did they offer an amendment to clarify their position?

REP. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Yes, they did. They absolutely did.

MR. MATTHEWS: And then what happened? Did that --

REP. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: There were amendments --

MR. MATTHEWS: And they offered that amendment. And then they voted for the full package.

REP. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: And you know why they voted for the full package, Chris, because that bill included an assurance that we would finally move to an election system where we could make sure that we could have manual recounts, which is what we've been fighting for since 2000. We have very raw nerves in Florida from the recount, and we can't --

MR. MATTHEWS: Okay, fair enough.

REP. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: -- have a repeat over counting votes in Florida.

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MR. MATTHEWS: What would be a reason, Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz, for the Democratic super-delegates to choose a candidate or to join in choosing a candidate different than the one who got the most elected delegates? What would be a reason for that?

REP. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, the role of a super-delegate at the Democratic National Convention is to make the decision that they think is best to ensure that we have the strongest possible candidate going into the general election. That's why super-delegates exist.

Now, should we change the whole nomination process? We've talked about this when I've been on this show before. I think the nomination process should be changed, because I think the process is elitist. But the process we have now allows for super-delegates to make their own decision about who the best candidate is.

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