My guest tonightis a congresswoman from Florida,
and the DNC chair.
Please welcomeDebbie Wasserman Schultz!
(applause and cheering)
Have a seat. Here.
Thank you so muchfor being here, Congresswoman.
Thank you for having me.It's a pleasure.
-Um, let's get straight into it.-Okay.
This is a...what a time to be alive.
Is is exciting for you, or areyou stressing every single day?
No, it's invigorating.
Uh, I'm a true believer,and I really think
that the 73 straight monthsof private sector job growth
that we've hadunder President Obama
and congressional Democratsis something
that we need to build on.
And we need to make surethat we have an opportunity
for everyone in Americato reach the middle class,
to have good jobs.
But before we get that far,we have to get over the fact
that right nowthe race is turning into,
like, a wacky race.
I mean, it's, uh... it's insane.
Never mind the Republican side.
Let's talk about the Democrats,'cause you have, uh, obviously,
a bigger role to play in this.
Between Bernie and Hillary,
are you happy with how the raceis being run right now?
Is the Democratic party happy
with the relationshipbetween the two?
Because it seems likeit's becoming nastier
and nastier as the race goes.
You know, I really thinkthat that's some drama
that is created by the mediathat just isn't there.
I'm very proudof our candidates, and our...
and their supportsshould be proud of them,
and I know they are.
If you look at the clown carthat is...
has been ridingaround the country
on the other side of the aisle,I mean...
-(laughter) -And you're laughingbecause it's true.
No, I'm laughing because
I started picturing themin the car.
-(laughter)-Well, right, right.
And I was, like, who's drivingand who's doing what and...?
And they're all getting outof the top and the sides.
So, I mean, look,from my standpoint,
I want them to debate every day,
and I bet my counterpart,Reince Priebus,
wants them to debate never,because
every timethey open their mouth,
they do somethingto alienate somebody else.
So I'm so proudof our candidates
because they've talked about howto move our country forward.
And even thoughthey don't agree, um,
-on the best approach to achievethe same goals... -Yes.
...they have done soin a substantive and robust way
that gives peoplean idea of their vision.
Robust is a... is, I guess,the correct word.
I mean, um, Bernie came outon Twitter.
I don't know if you saw thisthis weekend, this past week.
He's been going at Hillaryquite hard,
and a lot of people feelthat Bernie Sanders has been--
I'm gonna paraphrase, or reallyquote Twitter, rather--
that Bernie's being(bleep) blocked,
-um, by the DNC.-(laughter)
Is there any merit to this?
You know... I'm, uh...
(applause and cheering)
As powerfulas that makes me feel...
-(laughter) -...um,I'm not doing a very good job
of, uh... of riggingthe outcome, or blocking...
...um, anyone from being ableto get their message out.
The reality is, is I have a jobas national party chair
that is one that requiresa thick skin.
It requires me to be ableto absorb the body blows
so our candidates can stayabove the fray,
and, you know, if I have to takea few punches
in order for them to be ableto make sure
they can get their message out,then so be it, but...
-But isn't the...-I'm all about making sure
that ultimately we can electour party's nominee
in the general election.
And-and I'm certain thatthat's gonna happen,
but is it... is it...safe to say...
Here's the thing that's tough,is that everyone assumes
that, let's say the DNC,is part of the government,
but in essence you are... youare sort of separate from that.
-Oh, more than sort of.-You're separate.
-Yes, we are. -Yes. So...so you make your own rules
-within the party, you...-With our members.
-Yes, you define what isand what... -Yes.
For instance, super delegates--like, a lot of people talk
about super delegates, they go,
"Hillary has moresuper delegates. Who...?"
I... I know youdidn't start this, but...
doesn't the ideaof a super delegate
go against the very factthat people should be voting
for the people who representthem at the convention?
-They-they do.-(applause, whooping)
First of all...
first of all,we've had super delegates
-since I graduatedfrom high school... -Yes.
-in 1984. And so...-I was born that year.
-(laughter)- Yeah, and Igraduated from high school,
so I couldn't quite beyour mother, but darn close.
But, I mean, look...
we have party activists,elected officials
-and other leaders-Mm-hmm.
that are a part of our processbut who have never determined
the outcome of our nominee.
It's voters that can and shoulddetermine that outcome,
and they always have.
And we... we have activistswho-who are also a part
of that process.
But if you look at what'sgoing on on the other side,
I bet my counterparti-is wishing
-Oh, I'm sure.-for some kind of magic pill
-Super delegates.-Harry Potter...
-Yeah, super delegates.-invisible... invisible cloak
that he could useto make his problems go away,
because at the end of the day...
we're-we're going to cometogether, I'm confident.
We are gonna haveour primary process unfold
and a nominee will be chosen bythe people who have cast votes
well before we getto the convention.
And you'll watch the chaosunfold on the other side,
where they are about to splinter
into I don't knowhow many parts,
because they have alienatedand done everything they can
to make people in this countryfeel unwelcome--
the vitriol and the bigotryand the nastiness
that not only Donald Trumphas engaged in,
-but that they've allpiled on to... -Definitely.
and-and promoted, and-and...
gone out of their wayto embrace.
Are you... are you worried,though, that some of that...
destructive splintering maycome into the Democratic Party?
You read online or you seein the newspapers every day
more and more storiesabout "Bernie or bust."
You know, there was the...there was the story
of Susan Sarandon saying,
"Actually,I'm gonna vote for Trump,
"because I... you know,maybe the revolution
will come faster that way"--if Bernie is not the nominee.
Now, she walked that backobviously,
but some people feel likethat's the sentiment.
Is that something that youworry about within the party?
Remember in 2... No.
We're gonna come together,we'll be united,
because Democrats understandwhat's at stake
-in this election.-Would you still come together
even if Berniesomehow became the nominee?
Absolutely.Both candidates have said
that they would supportone another.
And if you look,in 2008, remember,
our primary wasmuch more divisive,
and ultimately, Senator Clintonsupported, you know
then-Senator Obama,and eventually he chose her
to be his Secretary of State,and they went at each other
much harder,and it got a lot nastier.
And so I've been proud ofour candidates. They've been...
They-they've disagreedwithout being disagreeable.
Look, you know,they sharpen the elbows,
it gets a little rough andtumble. At the end of the day,
they know that we have to havea president who will
continue to focus on creatingjobs that pay a decent wage,
people can have a good roofover their head, they can have
a good education that doesn'tbankrupt them into their 50s,
that they can make surethey keep their health care
and they can make sure they havea safety net that... when...
retirement that's notcut so full of holes,
which is whatthe Republicans would do.
They'd take us back to whatthey think is the glory days
of the Bush administration,which plunged us
into the worst economic crisissince the Great Depression,
so we will come together,because we know that America
-needs to move forward.-(cheering, applause)
-Sorry, I get a little intense.-The, uh... I could...
I like that. I-I... I feelthe passion. I feel the passion.
In terms of getting things done,though-- that's-that's
an interesting point thatyou bring up, 'cause, I mean,
this is fascinating, so let'sgo... Uh, since the election,
all right-- the Democratic partyis down 11 governors,
13 Senate seats, 69 House seats,
30 state legislative chambers,
over 900state legislative seats.
This is whatthe Democratic party is down.
I-I think it hasn't beenthis bad since the 1800s.
Like, right now, if you werea coach of a team,
you'd be coaching the 76ers.
It's... It's not in a greatplace, and change,
as we've seen,comes from the inside
as much as it doesfrom-from the top.
Democrats have been re...accused many times
of focusing on the general,but not so much
the grassroots level.Is this gonna change?
Is there something you can doto move it in another direction?
Most definitely,we already have. If, uh...
But let me take you back to theRepublican autopsy after 2012,
when... What they said, afterthey did... took a good,
hard look at themselves,is that they needed
to stop alienatinggroups of voters
and making them feelunwelcome in the country.
-Yeah.-And they needed to embrace
comprehensive immigration reformin order to win
presidential elections,'cause they've been
losing presidential elections.
We haven't been very successfulin midterms. What we did--
instead of writing some planthat we threw in the trash can
before it even saw the lightof day-- uh, we focused on,
after, I created a Democraticvictory task force.
And we put our bestand brightest party leaders
across a wide,diverse array of the party,
and got down to brass tacks.
And the brass tacks werethat we had to rebuild the party
from the ground up.Focus on party building
and building our bench.And that's gonna take a while.
And we have a multi-cycle planthat we're focused on,
-making sure we can strengthenour party... -So you're
-building the championship team,is what you're saying. -We are.
We're rebuildingthe championship team,
because we need peopleto understand that voter turnout
is important. They have to votein presidential elections
and in midterms. And you can seefrom the way legislatures
have not ex... and governorshave not expanded access
to health care through Medicaid,how badly a president
needs down-ballot electedofficials to get behind them.
-Let's speak about the votingreal quick. -Yes.
Uh, congratulationson the result.
-I-I saw you hada press conference. -Yes.
-And, uh, the Supreme Court...I mean, to get
-a ruling from the Supreme Court-Unanimous.
-when it's now four-fouris impressive. -That's right.
Uh, why is it so importantfor the DNC to vote...
to focuson voter suppression laws?
We submitted an amicus briefin this Evenwel decision
and have fought hard to makesure that we could maximize
people's ability to participate.
All the while,Republicans have openly admitted
that the fewer people vote, themore likely it is that they win.
-Yes. -Republicans all acrossthe country, like in Arizona,
where they cut the numberof precincts
and that's why the lineswere longer--
that happened in Florida in 2012as well--
we are all about making sure--and-and have always been--
creating more opportunitiesto vote,
because we knowthat when you shine a light,
when you...when you promote democracy,
when you give peoplean opportunity to have a say,
that more people will...good people will get elected.
And the Republicans know thatwhen you don't let people vote,
when our people show upto the polls...
And, of course, conveniently,that's where
the voter suppressiontakes place, is people who are
more likely to go to the pollsand vote for Democrats.
So we need to make surethat people
-who defy the... -That'sin poor areas, obviously.
-Poor areas. African Americans,minorities, -Minority areas,
-women, the LGBT community,students. -Yes.
Uh, in Texas, they don't allowa college I.D.
to be used as a valid formof state identification
to cast a vote.I mean, how intentional is that?
So we-we are exposing themright and left.
They lost a big one today.
And we are gonna continueto roll up our sleeves and--
I'm not wearing sleeves today--but roll up our sleeves and...
-You've already roll... They'repre-rolled. -I've done it.
-I've done it. I come inpre-rolled. -I like that.
-We're gonna make sure that wecan fight hard... -It's-it's...
it's really... it's reallyimpressive. One last thing
-before-before I let you go.-Sure.
Um, if you were to give advice
to the RNC,
if you were in the positionthey're in right now,
with Trump looming,the possibility
of a contested conventioncoming up,
what would you do if you wererunning the RNC right now?
I-I would strengthen my spine,
and I would make surethat I stood up
for the... what was right,
instead of caving,
which is what the entireRepublican Party has done.
They are in this situation...
They say Donald Trump hijackedtheir party.
No, he didn't. They succumbedto right-wing extremism
and... they are layingin the bed
that they made for themselvesbecause they cared more
about power than they didabout doing the right thing,
standing up for peoplewho need to have their voice
so that they can reachthe middle class
and they can succeed.
If you give people a fair shot,
they'll get an opportunityto succeed.
The Republicans have focusedon the wealthiest,
most fortunate Americans.
Democrats are about making surethe people have an opportunity
to build those co-cornerstonesof a middle-class life.
The Republicans have beentotally transparent.
They care about the wealthy,they care about big business
-and big banks,and we're gonna make sure -I...
we continue to expose them.What should he d...
What should they do? They shouldmake sure that they stand up
for peoplewho need their voice amplified,
like we do every single day,
-not cower in the corner-(cheering and applause)
for the right wing.
-I'm hoping we'll get you backon. -Thank you.
-That was really fascinating.-Thank you.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz,everyone. We'll be right back.
-♪ -(cheering and applause)