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MSNBC "Rachel Maddow Show" - Transcript


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MADDOW: Joining us tonight for "The Interview" is the new chair of the Democratic National Committee, Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz, thank you so much for joining us.


MADDOW: Congratulations on your new gig. How"s it going so far?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: It"s going well. You know, we"re up and running, and we"ve got a lot of excitement being generated around the country. People are getting fired up to re-elect President Obama.

MADDOW: We"ve been talking a lot about Republicans in control in the states. I just did a segment about what Republican governance looks like in Florida these days, in your homestate.

Do you expect that the Democratic Party this year, in this election season, will run in part by highlighting the way that Republicans are governing in the states where they have control. Both in the House of Representatives, which they control and in some of the states?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I think if you look at states like mine in Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, that are being led by Republican governors, I think the voters there are becoming very disturbed about the extreme radical policies that are coming out of these state legislatures and out of these governors.

This is not what the voters signed up for. And there is such a dramatic contrast being set up between the direction that the Republicans would take us really right off the deep end, essentially waging war on the unemployed, as if somehow them being out of the job is their fault and rewarding businesses.

Really, it"s like reverse Robin Hood-ism. It"s really shocking.

And I think voters are really taken aback and they"re going to push back hard when it comes to Election Day next year.

MADDOW: On the issue of--on social issues, in your home state of Florida and the legislature there, Republicans have proposed 18 different anti-abortion bills this session. Plus, they proposed and passed a variety of state-mandated drug testing programs--drug testing for people who are not suspected of drug use.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Including for state employees.

MADDOW: Yes, state employees, that"s right. And people on public assistance.

No, you don"t have to be suspected of--what are you hearing from your constituents in response to this year of big government conservativism in Florida?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, again--I mean, Republicans like to say how they want to end the concept of big government. Yet, they propose the most big government invasive proposals of all. I mean, to suggest that because you get paid a salary by the state, that somehow that gives the state the right to randomly drug test you, whether or not there"s any suspicion at all that you have taken drugs.

And the Supreme Court has ruled on that.

And so, I"m sure that that is going to end up going right to court. And Governor Scott"s extreme, radical proposal will be struck down. But instead of focusing on job creation, instead of trying to turn the economy around, instead of trying to make sure that during this very difficult time that we actually strike a balance like President Obama has called for, and make sure that everybody absorbs a little bit of the pain so we can get through this crisis, now, they blame everything on people who are the most vulnerable.

And I think it"s outrageous and I think the voters are finding it outrage as well.

MADDOW: One of the flash points in the states this year has been the issue of union rights; Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin getting attention. But a lot of states are pursuing this now--stripping union rights.

And the response from the unions themselves has been interesting. They certainly feel supported by the Democratic base, by people out in the streets and at the state capital lobbying against and arguing and cheering against these things. But groups like, I mean, Richard Trumka, the International Association of Firefighters--these groups are starting to say that they do not feel supported by the Democratic Party at the federal level, even as Republicans mount what"s starting to look like a coast to coast assault on union rights.

If the Democratic Party loses big labor support, it"s going to be in trouble moneywise in the next election cycle. What"s your view of that?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I think that across the country, you"ve had widespread grassroots and particularly Democratic support pushing back against these radical proposals that are anti-union and anti-worker. I"m concerned if the perception is, by labor, that the Democrats aren"t supportive.

In fact, we were able to actually, in Florida, kill a really anti-labor proposal and prevent the Republicans from being able to push it through--even though Rick Scott strongly supported it, because this was something that was you been acceptable. We have collective bargaining rights embedded in Florida"s constitution. It was just a bridge too far.

So, I think that Democrats have been very supportive. Democratic elected leaders and Democratic activists have been very supportive of workers" rights and pro-labor, the natural home for labor"s members is the Democratic Party, there"s no question.

MADDOW: Because I was hoping to get to talk to you now that you"re the new chair of the party, I asked that somebody who"s maybe my new friend, Michael Steele, (INAUDIBLE) of the Republican Party, whether he had any advice for you on starting this new job.


MADDOW: He told me three things to tell you. He said, one, have someone watch your back and then have someone watch them. Two: remember you can"t--two, you can"t please everyone, but you can certainly tick them all off at the same time. And three: have fun.

Do you accept his advice? Do you think that sounds appropriate for your new gig?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I do. I"m going to start off with advice number three. And definitely have fun, because there is nothing more exciting for me than working hard to elect Democrats up and down the ballot, particularly because I believe in President Obama"s agenda so strongly and the constituents that I represent in south Florida do as well.

It"s absolutely critical that we make sure that Americans know that we are focused like a laser beam on creating jobs, getting the economy turned around, making sure that we can fully implement health care reform so patients are in the driver"s seat and not insurance companies. And that"s what I look forward to talking about with voters across the country over the next 18 months.

It"s going to be incredibly important that we demonstrate the stark contrast between the two parties" visions for the direction America should go. And I"m going to have fun doing it.

MADDOW: Democratic party chair--and remember, have somebody watch your back and then have somebody watch that person, sort of ominous, right?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I"ll make sure.

MADDOW: All right. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, thank you so much for joining us.



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