Defending Debbie Wasserman Schultz: Obama, Biden, Clinton Rush to Chairwoman's Side
After an embarrassing week during which Politico reported immense strain in Wasserman Schultz's tenure as chairwoman, three of the most prominent Democrats in America have rushed to her side: Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and President Barack Obama.
In addresses at the DNC's Women's Leadership Forum at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Washington today, Biden, Clinton and Obama offered resounding tributes to Wasserman Schultz's tenure as chairwoman and congresswoman, preceding remarks on equal pay, domestic violence and family structure with deep commendations of her work and integrity.
Even Wasserman Schultz herself was in a rosy mood: Taking the stage just after 8 a.m., and just after Pharrell's ubiquitous "Happy" blared from the speakers, she was received by an enthusiastic, heavily female audience that gave her two standing ovations. She delivered an emphatic call to arms for the female vote this November in the midterm elections.
The forum today also came a day after Wasserman Schultz was honored at the Kennedy Center by the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation after surviving a bout with the disease in 2008 while in Congress.
In the comprehensive examination of Wasserman Schultz's legacy, Politico reported widespread tension and frustration with her term in office. She was painted as a self-interested executive in service of her own political career. According to the report, President Obama's close advisers had readied a replacement for her after the 2012 election, but eventually decided to keep her in place.
Despite the unspoken irritation, Wasserman Schultz has overseen a DNC that cleared its debt and created a surplus. It currently heads into the midterms with $7 million to spend on its candidates, many of whom face uphill fights to reclaim or take over congressional seats.
But for those following press coverage of Wasserman Schultz this week, the elephant in the room seemed to be present for the biggest names in Democratic politics. Biden, Clinton and Obama wasted no time in defending her.
"I've worked with a lot of great chairpersons of the Democratic Party. … I've campaigned for thousands of candidates over the years, literally," Biden said. "But I've never seen anybody work as hard and as tirelessly as Debbie has."
"And by the way, if we want anybody to do that 60 seconds or 120 seconds we get to respond to some attack on the president or on the administration, the best person … is always Debbie," Biden added.
Hillary Clinton was even more resolute.
"Debbie wears so many hats so well," Clinton said. "Her courage in beating breast cancer and going on to pass groundbreaking legislation that is helping other women beat it too is an example for us all. It is a truly inspiring and moving story."
"On the Hill and on the [campaign] trail, she fights for women, for kids, for families. She fights for all of us," Clinton added.
The most complicated endorsement may have come from President Obama, whose taped video comments celebrating Wasserman Schultz's achievements last night at the Kennedy Center came as something of a surprise. The Politico report had conveyed a serious lack of confidence in her on the part of the administration.
Today at the women's leadership forum, Obama opened his speech by flattering his party's chief.
"Speaking of leaders, I want to thank Debbie for the great work she's doing to keep our party strong," he said. "Nobody anywhere works harder than Debbie Wasserman Schultz."
Obama's Senate majority may rest on the shoulders of a woman who, while questioned privately, is at least in the good graces of her party's top figures when the cameras are rolling.