CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript

By:  Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Date: Aug. 12, 2011
Location: Unknown

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BLITZER: And joining us now from Des Moines, Iowa, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She is the chair of the Democratic National Committee, a congresswoman from South Florida. Congresswoman, thanks very much for coming in.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL), CHAIR, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: You're welcome.

Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's talk first about this 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decision saying that part of the President Obama and Democrats' health care reform law is unconstitutional, the part with mandates. This is obviously going to go to the Supreme Court.

But how much of a setback is this right now?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, first of all, we're very confident that we're on firm ground with the -- with the Affordable Care Act, particularly because Congress has the ability to -- to regulate commerce. Clearly, there's nothing more that affects interstate commerce more than purchasing health insurance, and we know health insurance companies certainly do business across state lines.

So, the ground is firm there. And keep in mind that just a few weeks ago, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals out of Cincinnati had a different ruling, 2-1, to uphold the law. So, this is just, you know, another step in the path to what we know will be an ultimate Supreme Court decision. When we get there, we feel confident we're on very firm ground and that they will uphold it.

BLITZER: You won't be surprised to know that Reince Priebus, your counterpart at the Republican National Committee, put out a statement warmly welcoming this decision by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

All right. Let's get to some politics right now. That's why you're there in Iowa.

Rick Perry, he's jumping into this race, as you well know. He does have a pretty impressive proven track record in creating lots of jobs in Texas.

How are you going to deal with that?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I mean, I know that that's what the current line in the media is, and he certainly is trying to leave people with that perception. But if you peel back the layers of that claim, that somehow Rick Perry has had success with job creation, that dog just doesn't hunt, as they say in the southern vernacular.

At the end of the day, this is someone who gets huge benefits from the decisions made by OPEC. There's a lot of money from the oil industry that impacts the economy and jobs in Texas. So, you know, for Rick Perry to claim that those jobs have something to do with his policy, really very -- you know, that's more hat than cattle. And at the end of the day, we've got to make sure that we have a candidate for president like Barack Obama who's going to focus on job creation with a proven track record, 17 straight months of private sector job growth, 2.4 million private sector jobs created. Here in Iowa, the first six months of this year, 2,200 private sector jobs created each month.

And with the Recovery Act, the reason that you've got about six percent unemployment here in Iowa, much lower than the national average, is that you've got 34,000 jobs that were created here alone from the Recovery Act. So, Iowa has benefited, America has benefited from Barack Obama's leadership, and Rick Perry or any other presidential candidate can't hold a candle to him.

BLITZER: Listen to Sarah Palin, in Iowa, where you are right now, told reporters today. Listen to this.

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PALIN: If it weren't for the Tea Party, the discussion would never have gone where it went, so I appreciate the Tea Party's passion for getting our federal government to realize it needs to live within its means. The last group or entity to be blamed for the downgrade should be the Tea Party.

Is the president responsible for the downgrade? And I would say yes, because from the top, that -- leadership starts from the top.

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BLITZER: She says the president should be blamed for the downgrade of America's creditworthiness from AAA to AA plus. I want you to have a chance to respond to Sarah Palin.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I know this is going to sound funny coming from the chair of the Democratic National Committee, but like Standard & Poor's analysis, I agree with them that the gridlock that was created by the Tea Party resulted in a Tea Party downgrade, and that the blame in S&P's analysis rests squarely with the Republican Party's refusal -- stubborn refusal -- to come to the table and compromise.

We need to come together as two sides in this country, work together to reduce the deficit, get a handle long term on getting our economy turned around even more so than President Obama has been able to accomplish. But at the end of the day, you know, we can't do it alone.

The American people want us to work together. And like I said, I know that sounds funny coming from the Democratic National Committee chairman, but I would love to hear Reince Priebus say something other than what he has been saying, which is nothing but divisive rhetoric. I'd love him and his colleagues in the Republican Party to commit to coming together, working with Democrats under President Obama's leadership, to get some balance into this long-term economic situation. BLITZER: Are you surprised, upset, worried about all the criticism that the president is getting, not from the Republicans, from the right, but from the left, from some of the liberal base of the Democratic Party? You saw that article, I'm sure, last Sunday in "The New York Times" by the Emory University professor, Drew Westin, entitled, "What Happened to Obama?" I'll read a line from it.

"When faced with the greatest economic crisis, the greatest levels of economic inequality, and the greatest levels of corporate influence on politics since the Depression, Barack Obama stared into the eyes of history and chose to avert his gaze. Instead of indicting the people whose recklessness wrecked the economy, he put them in charge of it."

Now, this comes from a professor who himself acknowledges he is a liberal and at one point was a great supporter of the president. But you're hearing more of this kind of criticism from the left.

How worried are you that that liberal base won't be energized?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, you know, that analysis is simply not the case. I am proud of President Obama's record, proud of the courageous leadership that he has demonstrated in pushing forward historic health care reform, in taking on Wall Street and making sure that we made sure that banks are never again too big to fail, making sure that we establish some balance and fight hard for it, and continue to work hard to get this economy turned around.

I think whether you're a liberal, whether you're a conservative, or whether you're an Independent, there is something to be proud of in anything you look at in President Obama's leadership. And I've traveled the country, Wolf, heard from liberals across this country who are proud that President Obama has brought us to this point, dug us out of the ditch that the Republicans put us in, and now we need to work together to make even more prosperity happen for the American people.

BLITZER: All right. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, go ahead and enjoy some of these fried Twinkies behind you. Appreciate your joining us.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you.

BLITZER: Thank you.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I'm all about the fried Milky Ways. I'm on my way there now.

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