DNC head: Dems will be a 'big tent party,' build presence 'in every zip code' in 2018

PHOTO: Labor Secretary Thomas Perez speaks during a National Press Club luncheon, Oct. 20, 2014 in Washington, D.C.PlayAlex Wong/Getty Images
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Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez says if Democrats want to regain power, they will have to compete in parts of the country that have been dominated by Republicans.

"We frequently didn’t have a visible presence in all too many corners of America, and shame on us,” Perez told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl on the Powerhouse Politics podcast.

Perez vows the Democrats will be taking a "big tent" approach, fighting “in every zip code” in 2018.

Perez was elected to lead the Democratic National Committee after a competitive race against Rep. Keith Ellison, (D-Minn.), in February. In order to win back congressional seats in the 2018 mid-term elections, Democrats are “going to fight everywhere,” Perez told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl on the Powerhouse Politics podcast.

DNC support for one candidate in a battleground city, Omaha mayoral candidate Heath Mello, caused blowback from pro-abortion rights group NARAL due to Mello’s background in supporting policies that restrict abortion rights.

"The actions today by the DNC to embrace and support a candidate for office who will strip women — one of the most critical constituencies for the party — of our basic rights and freedom is not only disappointing, it is politically stupid," said NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue in a statement.

Perez said that while the Democrats’ official platform is pro-abortion rights, there are some members of the party who believe otherwise. “I respect those personal beliefs. My view happens to be different,” Perez said, noting that sometimes it’s necessary to include candidates with opposing views on abortion rights “in terms of the big tent of our party.”

“If you’re going to be a big tent party as we are, and you're going to help elect democrats who have generated support in their communities ... the will of those voters is the will that we must respect,” Perez said.

Since the November election, Perez said he’s seen a renewed fervor among his party. “The energy I see out there is unlike anything I have seen in my lifetime,” he said. Perez also blasted President Donald Trump, saying the first few months of his presidency have “been nothing but chaos and carnage.”

He said Democrats would have been willing to work with President Donald Trump on immigration reform, but “frankly from the moment this president's been elected he's shown no interest in taking on anything other than the agenda of the Tea Party."

But, he added, it’s not enough to just oppose the new administration. “We have to articulate what we stand for” and continue to push for progressive values in order to take back House or Senate seats in 2018. “When you recruit good candidates and you have a good message and you have energy and organization and partnership, you always have a fighting chance," he said.