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Public Statements

MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript

Interview

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So, we`re getting a different point of view. I want to get from you -- can you give us -- Tom DeFrank, who`s a great reporter for the "New York Daily News" said basically the president is going to try to do grassroots organizing, like he did before, a lot of reviving the grassroots. I get those e-mails, too, all those organizing emails. And also go after -- portraying the Republicans as richies, basically rich people, elitists, if
you will, and then going after Capitol Hill Republicans.

Is that a fair look at the three-pronged attack that he`s going to follow?

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL), DNC CHAIRMAN: The Republicansare doing a good job all on their own demonstrating how important elitists are to them and how they want to singularly focus on keeping the wind at the backs of the wealthy and the most fortunate.

We have been like four years ago focused on standing up to the most significant grassroots presidential campaign in history. We`ve been here in Iowa for months. We had eight offices open, 350,000 phone calls, 4,000 one-on-one meetings -- and the one-on-one meeting for us is sitting down with the voter, understanding what makes them tick, what`s important to them and engaging them and getting them involved in recruiting other people. Twelve hundred meetings like house parties and organizational
meeting.

MATTHEWS: OK. Do you need Iowa come November?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Iowa is part of any combination of math, and it`s a battleground state. We`re organized in all the battleground states, and the difference between our campaign and the Republican campaigns is we have an appeal to working families and the middle class. And the Republicans want to return to the same failed policies that brought us to the precipice of economic disaster.

MATTHEWS: David, for some reason I`m on the e-mail list. I get all these organizing things, all this social networking. It`s very exciting, I guess, for the people involved in it. I just like to monitor it.

How does that -- how is the president going to take control of that political operation? I haven`t seen him act as leader of the Democratic Party, for example. I don`t sense that role. He doesn`t seem comfortable
with being head of a political party.

DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS: Well, I think that role is going to emerge. I think they are going to coalesce around him. And don`t forget the president is going to have approaching $1 billion to spend in his campaign.

MATTHEWS: In his name?

GREGORY: In his name. He`s got resources in the party`s name. He`s going to have resources. He`s going to have organization. What he`s got is a pretty rotten economy right now.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

GREGORY: And he`s got real questions even within his own party about his -- his own leadership, about his vision ultimately, to match up to his potential, to his promise to be a transformational leader. And he`s going
to face a tough election campaign against potentially Mitt Romney if he`s the nominee who`s going to at least be fighting on the train that he wants to fight on and that`s the economy.

I don`t think there`s anybody in the White House close to the president who doesn`t recognize this is going to be a very tough fight.

MATTHEWS: Do you think it`s going to be the same ticket this time, Obama and Biden?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Oh, absolutely. I mean --

MATTHEWS: Did you ever get those assurances from the president? Has he ever said it to anyone?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Throughout the president`s entire campaign, organization, throughout the leadership of political folks attached to the president, I know, I`m 100 percent confident that Joe Biden and Barack Obama are going to run together as a team.

MATTHEWS: So Hillary Clinton --

WASSSERMAN SCHULTZ: They are governing as a team --

MATTHEWS: Secretary Clinton won`t be joining the ticket?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No, I don`t believe so.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you the negative question. Do you think we`re going to see this --

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: But I also want to disagree with David`s characterization of the president`s campaign.

MATTHEWS: Go ahead.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: And the fact that -- I don`t know how you can say that -- that the base -- that Democratic voters question the president`s vision. There is such a dramatic contrast, David, between the
direction that President Barack Obama would take this country and has been taking this country and the direction that Republicans would take us. I mean, President Obama --

GREGORY: Hold on, hold on. I`m not a politician. That`s argument. I`m offering analysis.

That`s a different deal. I mean, you can make your argument. I`m just giving you analysis based on my reporting of what have the president faces.

You`re offering argument. That`s fine.

(CROSSTALK)

GREGORY: I`m not here to debate you in that regard.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No, no, but I need to push back.

MATTHEWS: Isn`t part of his strategy to unite his party before he takes it into battle? Doesn`t he have to do that just as any politician has to do that?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: There`s a reason that in every recent poll in Iowa, not one in the Republican field beats Barack Obama head to head. That`s because the American people and the Democratic base in particular understands that Barack Obama`s in there swinging for them, standing up for the middle class, making sure that we fight to bring the economy from 750,000 jobs lost a month to three years later, we`ve had 22 straight months of private sector job growth. We`ve begun to turn the economy around.

People know that President Obama is fighting for them. They know that any one of the Republicans, especially Mitt Romney, is fighting to keep the back of the wealthy.

GREGORY: It is interesting, Chris, again, as a reporting matter, you talk to Republicans, they will concede the fact that a lot of Americans like this president personally. They like him personally. They`d like him
to succeed.

That runs counter to a lot what have you hear here on the hustings which is, you know, we`ve got to get power back to reverse what he`s done.

MATTHEWS: Maybe it was the toughest challenge for the president is the objective fact of the economy. And if Goldman Sachs prediction is right, that the unemployment rate is going up to 9 percent by the end of
this year, that`s a real challenge, isn`t it?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: The economy and jobs is the number one issue on everybody`s minds. The president has a record that has taken us from being in a really impossibly difficult situation, the worst economic problem, the worst set of problems inherited at once by any president since FDR, and now
we`ve begun to turn the corner.

What I think Americans understand that we don`t need to do is go back to exclusively focusing on tax policy that helps the most unfortunate.

MATTHEWS: Well said.

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