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Debbie Wasserman Schultz, new DNC chair, says Democrats have been 'pretty laser-focused on the economy'

May 06, 2011|By Michael Muskal
  • Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the new chair of the Democratic National Committee, speaks on Capitol Hill in January.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the new chair of the Democratic… (Associated Press )

Democrats have been focused like a laser on economic issues, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the new chair of the Democratic National Committee said on Friday, in her first television interview since formally taking the high-visibility post.

Wasserman Schultz, a Florida congresswoman since 2005, took over the position at the DNC this week. As chair, her duties will include fund-raising and in many cases being the national face for the party and a campaign surrogate in the 2012 presidential cycle. She took over from Tim Kaine, who is running for U.S. Senate from Virginia.

No stranger to television, Wasserman Schultz was interviewed on the Fox News Channel's "Fox and Friends." In general she hit the usual talking points on which Democrats have focused in recent weeks, including efforts to improve the economy, linking it to the recent raid in Pakistan in which terrorist leader Osama bin Laden was killed.

"We've been pretty laser-focused on the economy," she said. "The president and the Democrats in Congress have been talking about creating jobs and turning the economy around. and that's where we have been in terms of our agenda. We've been focused in a laser-like way in getting the economy turned around and at the same time going after the most significant priority that we've had in terms of going after terrorism, and that's been bringing Osama bin Laden finally to justice."

Democrats and Republicans have been sparring on a host of economic issues, including the federal budget deficit and raising the debt ceiling. Democrats have called for ending tax subsidies for oil companies, and while GOP leaders have said they are open to discussing the issue, they also oppose tax increases.

"We are doing what we can -- and it’s important to note Americans are using less petroleum than they have recently,” Wasserman Schultz said. "Bottom line, we are still giving ridiculous unacceptable subsidies to oil companies and massive tax breaks even they've said they don't need. Why the Republican Congress hasn’t voted to end those oil subsidies is just beyond me. That’s the first step we need to take."

Wasserman Schultz also proved herself adept at one of politicians' favorite tactics, uplifting the least likely. She praised Herman Cain, one of the five candidates who attended Thursday night’s GOP presidential debate in South Carolina. None of the front-runners of the dozen or so contenders appeared at the forum broadcast by Fox.

 “I thought it was interesting that the Fox focus group reaction was that the person who was a business leader was the one who won the debate,” Wasserman Schultz said of Cain, who usually ranks near the bottom in most national polls. “Unfortunately the responses were really wanting when it comes to the needs of the American people.”

michael.muskal@latimes.com

twitter.com/LATimesmuskal

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