CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript

Interview

By:  Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Date: Nov. 7, 2012
Location: Unknown

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BLITZER: Let's talk about that and more with Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She's the chair of the Democratic National Committee.

First of all, congratulations on getting reelected.

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

BLITZER: Was it even close in your district over there?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: At the end of the day, it was not close.

BLITZER: What did you get, how many percent?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, 65 percent.

BLITZER: Well, that's not bad. Next time, you should shoot for 70 percent.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Really appreciative. I'm just happy to be reelected.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Congratulations.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Yes.

BLITZER: When I interviewed Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House, a little while ago on October 2, she was pretty confident that the 25 seats net gain might be possible for the Democrats to be the majority, she might be the speaker again.

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BLITZER: She said -- what happened?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: She said probably have to win more than 25.

And that was because, after redistricting, the redistricting process across the country put a lot of our members who were previously not in a vulnerable situation in one.

BLITZER: Because Republicans control the legislatures on all of these states.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: In many. They picked up a lot of legislative chambers in 2010. And as a result, they were able to redraw the district lines a lot of states in their favor, and so we lost 17 seats last night, while gained -- I think we're up to 25 seats that we picked up.

BLITZER: Our current projection has 233 Republicans in the new House, 194 Democrats.

(CROSSTALK)

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Races still to be called.

BOLDUAN: I know redistricting is one thing we have talked about a lot, but was it a problem with candidates? Was it a problem with funding? Because there were predictions that Democrats had a strong chance to take back the House.

(CROSSTALK)

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, the DCCC, led by Steve Israel, they put a phenomenal field of candidates on the field. They really did.

They had the resources they needed to win. At the end of the day, when you're up against a stacked deck in a district that is skewed toward Republicans, then it makes it harder. And then don't forget in a House race, while a super PAC has trouble buying the White House, they have obviously troubling buys a Senate seat, and grassroots paid off there, it's much easier for all that super PAC money dumped into a House race to make a more significant difference.

And I think that affected a lot of our House races because there was such a lopsided amount of outside money in there. It's really one of those things that absolutely has to be addressed. We have to get that opaque, nontransparent, corporate special interest money out of the democratic process. It's really one of the worst Supreme Court decisions ever handed down.

BLITZER: The Supreme Court ruled it was constitutional. There's a limited amount of what you can do.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: What we can do as a Congress is come together and pass legislation like the Disclose Act that holds these corporations accountable, that has disclosure.

BLITZER: By the way, here is the president landing, Air Force One landing at Andrews Air Force Base, or Joint Base Andrews, they call it now. He's coming back from Chicago with the first lady and their daughters.

It's an exciting time for him. You're beaming as you just think about it.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: You were with him last night.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I was, yes.

BLITZER: Did you have a chance to talk to him a little bit?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I did, I did, I had a chance with him and the first lady, and the vice president, and Mrs. Biden. It was just really gratifying. I'm so proud not just of the president and the vice president, but of the tens of thousands of our volunteers who really, as I said, knocked on doors until their knuckles bled.

And what was the most gratifying was that our team, our campaign put together the largest, most dynamic grassroots presidential campaign in history. And even though there was a ton of money that was dumped on the president, they dumped everything but the kitchen sink on this president, but he -- you know, we ran a campaign that the average contribution was $50.

We ran a door to door, neighbor to neighbor, people to people campaign and increased our turnout. For months, I know we had these discussions that there was some kind of enthusiasm gap. Not only there was not an enthusiasm gap, which we insisted there wasn't. We had increases in African-American turnout, in youth turnout, in Latino turnout from over 2008.

BLITZER: I know you worked hard to make sure some of your Jewish constituents -- and you have a lot in South, whether in Miami-Dade...

(CROSSTALK)

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: President Obama got 70 percent of the Jewish vote.

BLITZER: What did he get four years earlier?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: It was 74. But the adjustment arguably is because of the economy. There was obviously in every demographic group a little bit of erosion.

BLITZER: The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, congratulated the president today when he met with the U.S. ambassador to Israel.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Yes.

BLITZER: I think we have a clip of that.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Oh, good.

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BLITZER: Was that a big issue among your constituents, the U.S.- Israeli relationship? Because, as you know, the Republicans and Romney they tried to say that the president threw Israel under the bus. That was the argument and Romney made it at the convention, at the Republican Convention.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I think the reason that the president ultimately got 70 percent of the Jewish vote was because on domestic issues, whether it's investing in education, or health care, or civil rights, civil liberties, women's health, that's a natural home for Jewish voters.

And then we were able to make sure the lies and distortions and the mischaracterizations that the Republicans tried to sow among Jewish voters were not able to take hold.

BOLDUAN: We're always out of time, but real quickly I have to ask you about the fiscal cliff. That's the issue we're facing when I had back to Capitol Hill and you do as well.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Yes.

BOLDUAN: John Boehner today in a speech, he had a conciliatory tone, and he also made the point to say the American people expect us to find common ground and we're willing to accept some additional revenue via tax reform.

What's going to happen?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I was glad to see an olive branch extended by the speaker.

We can't ignore that President Obama did have the kitchen sink thrown at him yesterday. But his accomplishments, health care reform, rescuing the auto industry, Wall Street reform, in spite of that kitchen sink, voters voted to move forward, and we need to recognize that that balanced approach the president talked about the whole campaign is what we need to work together towards.

BLITZER: You sound a little optimistic.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I am optimistic.

BOLDUAN: It's going to be a very busy lame-duck session.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: We will see how long that optimistic lasts.

BOLDUAN: Exactly.

Thank you so much, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: The glass is half-full.

BLITZER: Congratulations again.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Still ahead right now, a nor'easter, if you can even believe it, is pounding the same areas devastated by superstorm Sandy. We're getting new details ahead.

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