Original post | 2:05 p.m.
Updated with Democratic National Committee missive, above | 4:43 p.m.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, isn’t bothered by the Florida campaign swing by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, the controversial tea party Republican.
Thursday night, Cruz is appearing at three Sarasota Republican Party events. Friday night, he’s the keynote speaker at the Palm Beach County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner.
Here’s what Wasserman Schultz said Thursday in a phone interview:
“The Sarasota Republican Party is actually honoring him as the ‘statesman of the year’ tonight. That really says something about the sad state of the Republican Party today.
“We’re talking about a guy who just in his brief time in Washington – he hasn’t even been there but a year and a half – and he orchestrated the government shutdown that cost our economy $24 billion. He opposed common-sense immigration reform, and that’s obviously important to many voters in Florida, and across the country. He supported the House Republicans’ goal of refusing to even take a vote on the legislation. Last week he voted not to pay our nation’s bills and forced a filibuster, more gridlock more obstructionism in the Senate and potentially brought us to the brink of default. He even voted against the Violence Against Women Act.
“And this is the leader that the Republicans are honoring as the ‘statesman of the year.’ I mean it’s another example – whether it’s Ted Cruz leading the Republican Party and the country potentially toward fiscal disaster and extremism or Chris Christie and Scott Walker and Bob McDonnell being the ones that are trying to tout themselves as the Republican leaders of the future while mired in ethical scandals – the Republican Party is pretty close to rock bottom. It’s just shocking that they continue to highlight leaders who are so out of touch with the American people.
Q: There are plenty of conservative Republicans in our area, but it seems as if he might be out of touch with Republicans in southeast Florida?
Wasserman Schultz: Apparently not out of touch with Marco Rubio, our senator, our tea party senator. If you remember he told Politico last year that he thinks Cruz is going to be a superstar. Marco Rubio himself has a tough time figuring out exactly where he is. He’s been pretty much a weather vane when he runs into controversy in his own party, on immigration reform especially.
The Republican Party continues clearly to be engaged in a civil war. They can’t future out who they are, where they are, how they want to define themselves. There’s a ton of finger pointing. I think that they’ve lost a bunch of races as a result, and I think that going into the 2014 election, that’s going to cause them more problems, particularly as they highlight a guy like Ted Cruz and allow Ted Cruz to be their leader who already forced a government shutdown and was willing to default and refused to pay our nation’s bills again just last week. I mean this is the person that they are lifting up as the statesman of the year.
Q: Do you think he’s the kind of Republican that voters in southeast Florida could cotton up to, warm up to?
Wasserman Schultz: The most extreme tea-partiers certainly could. And that seems to be who is dominating and leading the Republican Party of today….
Florida is a purple state … and they’ve repeatedly rejected extremism. The Republicans keep lifting up leaders like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio who embrace that extremism, so I think as voters take a look at the choices they have leading into the 2014 election, it’s going to bode well for our Democratic candidates.
Q: Besides Cruz keynoting in Palm Beach County, he’s going to be joined on state by Dr. Ben Carson and they’re going to be hosted by and will be appearing there is Donald trump. Any thoughts about the combination of those three?
Wasserman Schultz: They continue to make extreme choices, particularly in who they highlight as the leaders of their party. And it’s evidenced in the program lineup at their events, evidenced at the decisions that they make, their continuing to try to do everything they can to obstruct progress…. They are just dramatically out of step – both on the issues and on the leaders that they choose – with mainstream Americans. We’ll have another election in which that contrast is going to be very clear.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun