DNC Leader: GOP Rebranding Netted Little Change

DNC Leader: GOP Rebranding Netted Little Change
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Although Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz called a press conference Tuesday morning to discuss the state of the Republican Party on the one-year anniversary of its post-election "autopsy" report, the event could have just as easily been billed as a preview of how Democrats will go on offense in this year’s midterm elections.

In her opening remarks, the Florida congresswoman said that while the GOP’s report showed “a moment of rare self-awareness,” the party’s agenda “keeps alienating the communities [they’re] trying to reach.”

She argued that Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act, an extension of unemployment insurance, abortion/access to birth control, comprehensive immigration reform, and raising the minimum wage will spell political losses for the party.

Wasserman Schultz further asserted that Republicans have made only superficial progress in their data, technology, ground-game, and outreach efforts -- and that the party’s appeal continues to suffer because of unpopular policies and controversial remarks made by various Republican leaders.

Asked about the Democratic candidate’s loss in Florida’s 13th Congressional District last week, she attributed it to the race being a special election with low turnout. She also pointed out that the victorious Republican, David Jolly, underperformed his GOP predecessor (Bill Young, who died in October). Further, Wasserman-Schultz predicted that Democrats have a chance to win the seat in November, when higher turnout is expected.

She quoted Republican politicians extensively throughout her remarks to highlight their controversial comments, indicating Democrats will likely continue their campaign message that Republicans are waging a “war on women.”

“In the past year, we’ve heard Republican leaders and operators call a female candidate an ‘empty dress,’ talk about women’s libidos, and once again try to downplay abuse,” she said, asserting that Republicans also spoke in derogatory terms about Latinos and African-Americans.

The press conference accompanied the release of a 51-page DNC report outlining Democrats’ assessment that the GOP “continues to alienate” middle-class voters, Latinos, African-Americans, women, millennials, and the LGBT community.

The majority of the report is a collection of quotes, advertisements, and policy positions from Republicans throughout the country. It argues that despite the GOP’s attempts to rebrand, the party remains intolerant and unproductive. Wasserman  Schultz suggested that the Republican Party’s “biggest problem is who they are, what they believe, what they say, and how they govern.”

Asked after the press conference if she agreed with former Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs’ assertion that Democrats “absolutely” are in danger of losing the Senate, Wasserman-Schultz told RealClearPolitics, “I’m not in the prediction business. I think we’re going to hold the Senate. . . . What I am confident about is that if we turn out Democrats in the November election, we’re going to win. And that’s what our singular focus is going to be: turnout, turnout, turnout.”

Shortly before Wasserman Schultz remarks, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus offered a starkly more optimistic take on Republican chances in November. He predicted that “we are in for a tsunami-type election in 2014” that will “be a very big win, especially at the U.S. Senate level.” Eight months out from the election, however, Priebus did not directly say that he expects Republicans to retake the Senate.

Adam O'Neal is a political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at aoneal@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearAdam.

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