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Wasserman Schultz Backs Obama's Attacks on Bain

Wasserman Schultz Backs Obama's Attacks on Bain

By Alexis Simendinger - May 25, 2012


Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Friday defended President Obama's recent attacks on Mitt Romney's Bain Capital business background, and embraced Democratic House and Senate candidates who are criticizing Obama in parts of the country where he is unpopular.

During an interview taped for C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program (to be broadcast Sunday), the Florida congresswoman said she stood behind the use of negative advertising and direct assaults by the president to argue that Romney’s private equity instincts would inject the wrong “values” into the presidency.

Some members of the Democratic Party, including Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker, recently faulted Obama for his attacks on the presumptive GOP nominee and for his characterizations of private equity firms. Others have said Obama appeared hypocritical in accepting campaign contributions from wealthy venture capitalists, and seeking advice from private equity experts on his White House economic advisory panel, while at the same time going after Romney about his lucrative business pursuits.

But Wasserman Schultz said she was “not at all” worried that Obama’s negative campaigning so early in the election season would alienate independent voters, whose support is considered crucial in November. Recent polling, the congresswoman said, has persuaded the DNC that the Democrats’ message of job creation and attaining a fair shot for the middle-class “is resonating -- because President Obama is ahead.”

Senior administration officials, during a briefing Monday under ground rules that they could not be quoted, similarly told RCP they are confident Obama’s 2008 post-partisan persona is not being overtaken by an acutely partisan image -- one that might disappoint moderates and independent voters, even if Obama succeeds in mobilizing his base.

One official said he has zero concern because that notion is far from how voters view the president. People find Obama’s dissection of Romney’s business record highly relevant, he added.

The president is running a tough but fair campaign, he continued, and Obama’s team believes voters will continue to perceive the president as an optimist focused on doing his job for the American people.

A second official said it would defy all historical precedents if voters believed that discussion of a candidate’s avowed qualification for the presidency was somehow out-of-bounds coming from the incumbent.

Echoing recent White House and Obama campaign talking points, Wasserman Schultz said Romney transformed his Bain Capital business know-how into a campaign boast that he would outperform Obama in boosting economic growth. Once made, that boast deserves a thorough going-over, she added.

“A close examination of his record at Bain is really important. We need to make sure that we open up the hood and take a look,” she continued. “How you treated employees -- leaving them without jobs, leaving creditors without being paid, and . . . walking away having made a massive profit -- that is something the American people should take a look at.”

Romney said this week during a Time magazine interview that if elected, he would reduce unemployment (nationally at 8.1 percent in April) to 6 percent or better by the end of his first term. Wasserman Schultz ducked an invitation during the C-SPAN interview to forecast whether Obama would do better by 2016 if he wins a second term.

While it is customarily the job of the DNC chair to maintain party unity and message discipline, Wasserman Schultz didn’t blink when asked about Democrats who are vying in tough House and Senate races and distancing themselves from Obama, or criticizing his policies -- and gathering headlines along the way. One such example is North Dakota Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp, who is polling favorably against Republican Rick Berg while criticizing Obama for “not doing enough” for the energy industry.

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Alexis Simendinger covers the White House for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at asimendinger@realclearpolitics.com. Follow her on Twitter @ASimendinger.

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