The chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee said Friday that if Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) doesn’t prevail over Gov. Scott Walker (R) in next month’s Wisconsin recall election, there won’t be any ramifications for Democrats nationally.
“It’s an election that’s based in Wisconsin. It’s an election that I think is important nationally because Scott Walker is an example of how extreme the tea party has been when it comes to the policies that they have pushed the Republicans to adopt,” Wasserman Schultz said. “But I think it’ll be, at the end of the day, a Wisconsin-based election, and like I said, across the rest of the country and including in Wisconsin, President Obama is ahead.”
The interview, taped Friday morning, is scheduled to air 10 a.m. Sunday.
Walker found himself at the center of a national party battle earlier this year after Democrats collected more than 1 million signatures to force the freshman GOP governor into a June 5 recall election.
Democrats have cast the recall as a referendum on Walker’s push to curtail collective-bargaining rights for public workers, arguing that a Barrett victory next month would send a warning to national Republicans: Pursue a Walker-style agenda, and pay the price at the polls.
National groups and party committees on both sides of the aisle have spent heavily on the recall, and recent polls show Walker building a slight lead in the race.
The DNC has directed more than $1.4 million to Wisconsin, and Wasserman Schultz herself is set to campaign on Barrett’s behalf early next week.
Some Wisconsin Democrats have complained that the national party has relied on labor groups to support Barrett and did not get involved in the race until it was too late.
Wasserman Schultz dismissed those concerns in the interview, saying that the national party committee has “been fully supportive” of Barrett.
“We’ve deployed the entire weight of our considerable grass-roots operation,” she said. “We put more than $250,000 into the race already. I’m going to the state on Tuesday to do a fundraiser for Mayor Barrett, and we sent out an e-mail this week to our more than 2 million-plus donor base from the Democratic Party telling them that the first important national election is the June 5 election to recall Scott Walker and elect Mayor Tom Barrett, and asking our considerable donor base to contribute.”
Wasserman Schultz also weighed in on the Obama campaign’s attacks on likely GOP presidential rival Mitt Romney’s record as an executive at a venture capital firm. At the end of a week in which several prominent Democrats criticized the president’s focus on Bain Capital – even as Obama has accepted donations from those in private equity -- Wasserman Schultz maintained that focusing on Romney’s business background is fair game.
“Comparing individual donors to Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital, which he’s made as the central premise for his candidacy for president, is like comparing apples to coconuts,” Wasserman Schultz said. “It’s not even apples to apples.”
She also made the case that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a potential Romney running mate, would have little impact on the GOP ticket’s prospects in her home state of Florida.
“Marco Rubio, in the polling that I’ve seen recently, doesn’t really make much difference and, in fact, in some cases actually hurts Mitt Romney or does very little,” she said. “Marco Rubio is a nice guy, but not someone who I think belongs on a national ticket for a lot of reasons.”
When it came to her own personal ambitions, Wasserman Schultz declined to say whether she may be angling for a future bid for House speaker or minority leader.
“I think the only focus of those leaders and all of us as Democratic members of Congress should be on electing those 25-plus Democrats to the Congress that we need to elect in order to make sure that Nancy Pelosi can be speaker,” she said.
Video of the full interview is available here courtesy of C-SPAN.