Democratic Party chair: Americans reject 'hard-core, radical' GOP agenda (VIDEO)

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the new chair of the Democratic National Committee, says that Medicare is just the first glimpse of a 'radical, right-wing' GOP agenda that voters don't want.

Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor
Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz speaks to reporters during a Monitor Breakfast at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington, DC. May 26.

Voters disapprove of more than the GOP attempts to turn Medicare into a voucher program, claims the head of the Democratic National Committee. Recent Democratic victories in special elections across the nation, from the vote in a New York congressional district long held by Republicans to a ballot for mayor of Jacksonville, Florida, show that voters have gotten a glimpse of the Republican agenda, and they don’t like it.

That’s DNC chief Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida’s belief, anyway, and she’s sticking to it.

“All of those elections turned on the hard-core, radical, right-wing agenda that the Republicans have given us a preview of,” said Representative Wasserman Schultz at a Thursday breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor.

Wednesday’s Senate roll call, in which all but five of 47 Republicans voted for a bill that would in essence privatize Medicare, shows that the GOP just hasn’t gotten this message, said the DNC chief.

“They’re doubling down,” she said.

Democrats have ridden hard on the Medicare issue in recent days. They’re continuing to promote the surprising victory of Kathy Hochul over Republican Jane Corwin – in a race complicated by the presence of a strong tea party candidate – as a repudiation of the plan of Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin to remake Medicare as a means of helping deal with the nation’s crushing debt.

Whether that message will succeed in the long run remains to be seen. Other things were at work in the New York vote, such as a disparity in the candidates’ campaigning abilities. But it’s clear that at the least Democratic party officials now believe they have the wind at their backs as they approach the post for the beginning of the 2012 campaign season.

“We are continuing to make progress,” said Rep. Wasserman Schultz at the Monitor breakfast.

When reminded that it was not that long ago that Democrats lost dozens of seats and control of the House of Representatives, the DNC chief placed blame for that loss squarely on the economy.

“I don’t agree with your characterization that was a wholesale rejection of Democrats,” said Wasserman Schultz to a questioner. “You shouldn’t read anything into that other than that voters were incredibly frustrated.”

On another subject, the DNC chief said that President Obama would not suffer long-term political damage among Jewish voters for his prodding of Israel in his recent speech on the Middle East. Among other things, Obama said that any peace plan should be based on the borders that existed in the region prior to the 1967 Six-Day War, adjusted by land swaps.

“At the end of the day, the natural home for the Jewish voter is the Democratic Party,” she said.

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