CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript

Interview

By:  Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Date: Jan. 20, 2012
Location: Unknown

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BLITZER: All right. Madam Chairwoman, go ahead and respond. He's challenging you to keep on talking.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, we must be getting under his skin a bit if he feels the need to bring up the chair of the Democratic National Committee and the things that I say, whether it's against him and his terrible record or in support of President Obama's remarkable record, of bringing us from bleeding 750,000 jobs a month when he first took office, thanks to the failed Republican policies of the past.

Now going forward three years later, we've had 22 straight months of job growth in the private sector. Last month, 200,000 jobs were created in the private sector. Since 1997, we've had more jobs created in manufacturing than since 1997. He rescued the American automobile industry when Mitt Romney would have let it go bankrupt.

So, he can absolutely count on that I will continue to tout President Obama's record on fighting for the middle class, fighting for working families, and beginning to get this economy turned around, compared to the desire and the focus of Mitt Romney, which is to drag us back to the policies that got us into this economic mess in the first place, someone who wants to stand up for people who are already doing well so that they can do even better and to heck with working families.

BLITZER: I don't know if you had a chance -- I don't know if you had a chance to watch the CNN debate last night --

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I did.

BLITZER: -- you probably did watch it -- but rhetoric was heated, not only amongst the candidates going after each other, but they really went after President Obama. I'm playing a couple of little clips, and I want you to respond. Listen to this.

SCHULTZ: Sure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM, R-PA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The President of the United States can't cut one penny out of the social welfare system and wants to cut a trillion dollars out of our military and hit our veterans, and that's disgusting.

FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, R-MASS., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know we're going to hit it hard for President Obama, but we're going to stuff it down his throat and point out it is capitalism and freedom that makes America strong.

FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH, R-GA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is, I believe, the most dangerous president of our lifetime. And if he is reelected after the disaster he has been, the level of radicalism of his second term will be truly frightening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: So let me ask you this question -- is that kind of rhetoric against a sitting president just politics, business as usual, or is it over the top?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: The rhetoric that the candidates running for president on the other side of the aisle used last night was stunning. It was stunning in its outrageousness, and stunning in the goal that they have to say or do anything to get elected, particularly Mitt Romney.

What I thought was the most stunning, though, Wolf, was that when Mitt Romney continued to just play by his own set of rules. I mean, when John King asked him last night if he, like his father, would release 12 years of tax returns, because his father said when he ran for president, that releasing just one year could indicate an anomaly, he had so much conviction in his answer, that he said maybe.

I mean, Mitt Romney has a pattern of a total lack of conviction, a willingness to say or do anything to get elected. I think there will be a dramatic contrast, no matter which one of the Republicans ultimately are their nominee, between President Obama, who's been fighting hard.

And people know that -- and will continue to point out that he's been fighting to make sure that we can balance the cuts that we know we need to make to reduce our deficit, at the same time making sure that everyone in America pays their fair share, that we have a tax rate that makes sense and that we make sure that people like Mitt Romney's secretary don't pay a higher tax rate than he does.

There are millions of middle-class families, as we learned Tuesday, when Mitt Romney reported that he -- his tax only approaching 15 percent, millions of American families who make far less than he does, pay taxes at a higher rate than Mitt Romney does.

BLITZER: But that --

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: -- legal about that, long-term capital gains, that's what the rate is, that's the law of the land.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: That's right, there sure isn't, but what's unfortunate and unacceptable is that Mitt Romney refuses to come clean, won't release his tax returns, isn't even committing that once he releases any that he'll release multiple years.

And, you know, at the end of the day, we're not attacking free enterprise. No one begrudges anyone's accomplishments or success. What we do begrudge is a candidate for president like Mitt Romney, who believes that it is only people who are already doing well that deserve a tax policy that helps them.

President Obama has been fighting for a tax policy that allows everyone in America, including the middle class and working families, to be successful and to share in that American dream. That's the dramatic contrast.

BLITZER: You ready to receive all these four Republican candidates in your home state of Florida in the coming days, right after South Carolina?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: We are looking forward to rolling out the red carpet in the Sunshine State.

BLITZER: Probably could use the --

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Me especially. I can't wait until they get there.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Well, there will be millions of dollars of commercials on local television stations. I'm sure you'll be happy to accept all those commercials --

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: We're looking forward to them boosting the economy in Florida.

BLITZER: Those are expensive media markets. All right, Congresswoman, thanks very much for coming in.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thanks, Wolf.

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