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Public Statements

MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript

Interview

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U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida is the chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Thank you for joining us.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Congresswoman, I`m looking at these ads the president is putting on the air. And I hate to sake it for his sake. They are defensive. He`s defending himself against the huge spending by the Koch
brothers out there blasting him on Solyndra, that subsidy to that energy company.

Is this going to be a defensive campaign?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, on the contrary, Chris, I think what President Obama is doing and what the campaign is doing is making it very clear that there`s a dramatic contrast in the way President Obama has
handled his presidency.

In terms of ethics, he has made sure that we have the most stringent ethics policy in the administration that there really ever has been. He has established clearly that when it comes to money in politics, that we
want to make sure that the grassroots activists have an opportunity to influence and participate in campaigns, as opposed to special interests and lobbyists and federal PACs, which President Obama does not accept funding from, contributions from.

And then when it comes to this economy and the kind of economy that we want to have, we want one that`s going to promote green jobs. We want to make sure that we tout President Obama`s record on promoting green jobs and transitioning our economy when it comes to energy from one that`s dependent
on foreign oil as the primary source of our energy needs to alternative energy sources that don`t rely on fossil fuels, which we know are finite.

President Obama has a remarkable record as president. And we`re touting it.

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at the ad that touts it. Here`s the president`s own ad defending and actually advertising his policies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)

NARRATOR: Secretive oil billionaires attacking President Obama with ads fact-checkers say are not tethered to the facts, while independent watchdogs call this president`s record on ethics unprecedented.

In America`s clean energy 2.7 million jobs and expanding rapidly. For the first time in 13 years, our dependence on foreign oil is below 50 percent. President Obama kept his promise to toughen ethics rules and
strengthen America`s energy economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Congresswoman and Madam Chairman, this is a tough challenge for your party and for your points of view on energy and ethics. Here, you have the president putting $1.3 million into an ad campaign -- and that was an example of it -- up against a $6 million campaign run by the Koch brothers blasting him on this issue.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, while the Republicans are engaged in their circular firing squad and embracing extremism, and running as far as to the right as humanly possible, President Obama and our team are in the process of standing up the most dynamic, robust grassroots presidential campaign in history.

And we`re also at the same time not going to take lying down false accusations, mischaracterizations and distortions of the president`s record. And as a Floridian, Chris, I can tell you, particularly as the Florida primary on the Republican side approaches, I know that Florida`s pristine environments that is so dependent on that $65 billion tourism industry that President Obama helped boost today with his we can`t wait announcement on tourism, that it can`t rely on the dependence that we have on fossil fuels, on drilling for ever more oil.

We saw what happened with the BP oil spill off the coast of Florida, devastating the Panhandle`s tourist-based economy. We can`t allow that to happen again. And that`s what the entire Republican field would have us do.

MATTHEWS: Well, here`s "Newsweek" columnist Andrew Sullivan writing a strong defense of the Obama administration this week. He points to a number of triumphs in the president`s first term.

Let`s take a look -- quote -- "A depression averted. The auto industry bailout was successful, the Iraq war ended, bin Laden is dead, and a pair of liberal appointments to the Supreme Court."

And the question I have to ask is: why doesn`t the White House use these successes more? You know, you got Andrew Sullivan out there, an erstwhile or sometime conservative. You know, you probably saw the big
cover piece in "Newsweek" this week. Boy, what a great case he made for the historic efforts and successes of this president.

Is your party or is the president doing as good a job selling his record as this independent voice did?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: You know, there`s always room for improvement. I think we need to continue to make sure that people understand that there is a dramatic contrast between the two directions that we could go after November 6th. The direction that President Obama is taking us, including the Affordable Care Act, which made sure that millions of Americans are going to be able to remain on their parent`s insurance, 2.5 million young people now are insured who weren`t before. Thanks for the Affordable Care Act.

Seniors in my state and across the country have that donut hole, the prescription drug wage gap in Medicare, closed and beginning to close so that they can make sure that they don`t have to choose between medicine and meals.

There are countless examples that we`ll be talking about --

MATTHEWS: OK.

SCHULTZ: -- as opposed to the direction the Republicans would take us, which is to keep the wind at the backs of the people who are already doing quite well.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, as always, U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who`s chair of the Democratic National Committee.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you.

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