August 05, 2016

Biden says Wasserman Schultz didn't ask him for bat mitzvah video


Vice President Joe Biden campaigned Friday in South Miami with U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston -- and brought up, unprompted, the video he filmed to congratulate one of Wasserman Schultz's daughters on her bat mitzvah.

"Admittedly, I’m in love with her daughter," he told reporters outside the Whip 'N Dip Ice Cream Shoppe, as Wasserman Schultz chuckled. "I wanted to go to her bat mitzvah. Couldn’t go so I sent a film. I probably ruined everything."

"No, no, not at all," DWS said, laughing.

The video was reported by Politico after Wasserman Schultz stepped down from her role as Democratic National Committee chairwoman -- as a sign that some Democrats thought the congresswoman was more interested in her own political ambitions than the DNC's.

The Miami Herald asked Wasserman Schultz about the video at an editorial board interview Thursday, without going into specifics about whether she asked for it.

"There was a lot that came out anonymously after you stepped out of the DNC role," a Herald reporter asked. "That suggested that maybe your political ambitions had been put before the party, and that maybe that was a reason -- one of the reasons -- people really wanted you out at that point, and no one came to your defense. I was wondering if you could talk about that -- I mean, the vice president's video for your daughter's bat mitzvah --"

"Which was not true," Wasserman Schultz said.

Pressed by the Herald on Friday to clarify after Biden's comments about the video, Wasserman Schultz said she specifically meant she hadn't asked Biden for the video -- not that the video itself didn't exist.

Biden said Wasserman Schultz didn't request the film.

"She didn't. I give you my word," Biden said. "I was invited -- of course why wouldn’t I? I'm her close friend and I had planned on coming. The president gave me another assignment, so I asked -- which is the reason I asked about the video"

"This is family, guys," he added. "For me, this is family."

Joe Biden, Florida Democrats' validator-in-chief

DWS Biden

@PatriciaMazzei @ByKristenMClark

Vice President Joe Biden swung through Florida on Friday to do one of the things he does best: give a boost to Democrats in need of a a little validation from perhaps the most people-friendly Democrat in the country.

But he couldn’t pass up a chance to also tweak Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

“I can’t figure out Mr. Trump,” said Biden, who made a forceful case against the New York celebrity developer at last week’s Democratic National Convention. “It’s true that when you’ve never run for public office before, going out there and, you know, getting on the biggest stage in the world, you’re bound to make mistakes. But … some of the things that he does and says sort of defy logic for me.”

The vice president was speaking to reporters outside the South Miami Whip ’N Dip, where he’d stopped for a scoop of white chocolate chip ice cream along with U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston. They were on their way to a Coconut Grove fundraiser to benefit her re-election campaign. (Wasserman Schultz ordered a Snickers scoop.)

Earlier Friday, Biden had collected checks — and enjoyed a helping of Southern food — with U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy in Tallahassee, as part of the Jupiter congressman’s U.S. Senate campaign.

More here.

Wasserman Schultz still unsure if she'll back medical pot amendment



U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston drew the ire of Florida progressives -- including major political donor John Morgan -- when she opposed a state constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana two years ago.

She says she still hasn't made up her mind about whether to support it this year.

"I'm still reviewing the provisions of it," the Democratic congresswoman told the Miami Herald editorial board in a broad interview Thursday.

Morgan, of Orlando, is bankrolling this year's version of the amendment -- expected to pass given the more liberal presidential electorate -- and has threatened to pour money into a political committee aiding Wasserman Schultz's Aug. 30 primary opponent, Tim Canova, who backs legalization for medicinal purposes.

If she opposes the effort again, Morgan told the Herald in an email Friday, "she will be the only elected Democrat in the coutnry to do so."

"It just shows how out of touch she is and bought and paid for by the pharmaceutical industry."

Ben Pollara, United for Care's campaign manager, noted Wasserman Schultz comprises a small number of Floridians undecided on the issue.

"In our most recent poll, Floridians supported passing Amendment 2 by a 77-20 margin," he said. "I was wondering who the 3 percent undecided were and now we know! It's incredible that a member of Congress is undecided on such a popular and widely discussed issue in her state."

Earlier this year, Wasserman Schultz quietly voted in favor of a medical pot provision in Congress.

The 2014 Florida amendment missed the 60-percent threshold to pass by 2.4 percentage points. It will be on the ballot again Nov. 8.

August 04, 2016

Wasserman Schultz says she'll debate Canova. Canova: 'I will believe it when I see it'


U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston told the Miami Herald editorial board and the Sun-Sentinel on Thursday that she does, in fact, intend to debate primary challenger Tim Canova, who has been clamoring for a debate for weeks.

In a statement, Canova said he was "happy" to hear the Democratic congresswoman's position.

"I will believe it when I see it," he said, adding he long ago proposed a series of six debates. "Wasserman Schultz has dodged debates for four months and she's been dodging her own constituents for even longer."

Photo credit: Patrick Farrell, Miami Herald staff

Wasserman Schultz defends calling Sanders' campaign manager an 'ass'



U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston isn't sorry she once called Bernie Sanders' campaign manager an "ASS."

“Well, he was acting like an ass,” she told the Miami Herald editorial board Thursday.

She was defending an internal Democratic National Committee email obtained apparently by Russian hackers and published by the website WikiLeaks. The email trove forced Wasserman Schultz out of her position as DNC chairwoman just before last week's presidential convention.

Wasserman Schultz, who is running for re-election, told the Herald she and her staff expressed themselves assuming their emails would remain private. But she expressed no regret over her characterization of Jeff Weaver, Sanders' campaign manager, who at the time had suggested Sanders would extend his campaign until the convention.

“The Sanders campaign — and I give them credit for it — their strategy at that point was to make the DNC the bogeyman, and make me the bogeyman, so they could rally their supporters,” she said.

Wasserman Schultz also denied a Politico report that she asked Vice President Joe Biden for a video to play at her daughter’s bat mitzvah.

“Not true,” she said. “I really don’t think it’s appropriate for me to be responding to anonymous criticism. If people don’t have the nerve to be critical and put their name to it, then I’m not going to box nameless, faceless critics.”

Read the story here.

Photo credit: Shannon Kaestle, Miami Herald

'The buck stops with me,' Wasserman Schultz says of leaked DNC emails


via @alextdaugherty

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston took responsibility Thursday for the leaked emails that eventually led to her resignation as Democratic National Committee chairwoman, saying "the buck stops with me."

She also denounced an email by her former party staff questioning Bernie Sanders' religious beliefs as "unacceptable" and "outrageous."

During her first local public appearance since resigning on the eve of last week's national convention, Wasserman Schultz denied the DNC was attempting to thwart Sanders' bid for president against nominee Hillary Clinton. She spoke at a briefing Thursday in Wynwood that Gov. Rick Scott, touring the neighborhood due to Zika, had with Congressional leaders.

"We followed the rules according to the DNC, primaries and caucuses were run according to state law," Wasserman Schultz said. "At the end of the day, who the DNC chair was, I could not allow to be a distraction."

The congresswoman said party staffers under her made mistakes. But she said leaked emails published by the website WikiLeaks weren't any more damaging than emails that would come out of any other private organization.

"Were there mistakes made?" Wasserman Schultz said. "Sure … but who among us in thinking about whether your private emails were stolen would survive the light of day?"

More here.

August 03, 2016

DNC scandal and Tim Canova make race hard for Debbie Wasserman Schultz


For the first time in her 24 years in politics, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is running scared.

Even before her tenure as leader of the Democratic National Committee unraveled dramatically at the beginning of last week’s Democratic convention in Philadelphia, Wasserman Schultz knew that for the first time in her political career, she was facing a serious primary challenger. Tim Canova, a Nova Southeastern University law professor and campaign novice, has become something of a regular on national television and an expert fundraiser.

In response, Wasserman Schultz kicked her campaign into high gear: She sought help from President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. She raised millions of dollars. She showed up at Democratic clubs to ensure face time with super voters. She held roundtables on gun violence, media events on Zika prevention and forums with Venezuelan Americans.

Now, with less than a month to go before the Aug. 30 primary, the Weston Democrat also has to contend with the fallout of the WikiLeaks DNC scandal. She was forced to step downas DNC chair July 24 after thousands of leaked emails showed the committee favored Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.

Keep reading here.



PAC poll shows Debbie Wasserman Schultz beating Canova


U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is beating her Democratic rival Tim Canova by a landslide, a summary of a new poll done for a PAC shows.

The  Patriot Majority PAC poll shows she has a commanding lead: 59-26 percent with 15 percent undecided. 

The poll also found that 61 percent view her favorably compared to 28 percent for Canova.

Global Strategy PAC did the poll of 400 voters between July 31 and Aug. 1, about a week after Wasserman Schultz announced she was stepping down as Democratic National Committee chair. The poll has a margin of error of 4.9 percent. The PAC has spent about $98,000 on the race so far. The Washington D.C. PAC was formed in 2005. The Center for Public Integrity wrote that the PAC is affiliated with Patriot Majority USA which is a "liberal, labor-backed nonprofit."

Canova recently released a summary of his own internal poll which showed that he is eight percentage points behind Wasserman Schultz. Wasserman Schultz has not released any internal polls.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz to hold first public event back in district: town hall on police-community relations


U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's congressional office announced today her first public event in the district since the Democratic National Convention: she will hold a town hall on police-community relations.

The town hall is set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Faith Center in Sunrise.

The town hall follows police shootings in Dallas, Baton Rouge and near St. Paul. A press release states that Wasserman Schultz will "share her experiences working with the Police-Community Relations Task Force in South Florida."

Several Democratic elected officials and community leaders are slated to attend including U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, Delray Beach; U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-MO, Broward Sheriff Scott Israel, Broward Mayor Marty Kiar and Sunrise Mayor Mike Ryan, State Attorney Mike Satz as well as leaders from the NAACP and churches. 

Wasserman Schultz stepped down as DNC chair last week after thousands of leaked emails. She has not resurfaced publicly in the district since that time despite having a competitive primary challenge from Tim Canova.

Her spokesman Ryan Banfill told the Miami Herald that she went on vacation with her family after the convention but has been handling constituent work and responding to editorial board questionnaires and continuing to work on issues related to her office such as responding to Zika and gun violence. She returns to the district today, Banfill said. 


Tim Canova attacks Debbie Wasserman Schultz in new ad

Tim Canova released a new TV ad today attacking U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Social Security and for missing votes.

The two Democrats are competing in the Aug. 30th primary for a Broward/Miami-Dade congressional seat.

Here is the script:

"My father died when I was 10 and my mother worked full time to raise us. I'm Tim Canova. With mom's hard work and the help of Social Security we managed to keep our home so I am committed to protect Social Security and Medicare and increase aid to our neediest seniors and disabled. My opponent refuses to support an increase in benefits. In fact she's missed the most votes of any Florida Democrat."

On Social Security, the ad cites H.R. 2442 -- the Social Security Income Restoration Act of 2015. The bill makes some adjustments to benefit seniors including that it would increase the amount of income excluded to determine eligibility. We don't yet know if Wasserman Schultz "refuses to support" it because it hasn't received a vote yet but she isn't one of the 36 Democratic cosponsors of the bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Az. 

Wasserman Schultz's campaign spokesman Ryan Banfill pointed to a separate bill, H.R. 1391, that would increase social security benefits that she has supported. She is one of 104 cosponsors of that bill which was introduced in 2015 but hasn't had a hearing yet.

The ad cites her missed votes in 2015. According to GovTrack, she missed 10.5 percent of the votes which placed her 16th highest in the House and first among Florida members. It's not surprising that the Weston Democrat would miss more votes than the rest of the Florida delegation because up until recently she was the Democratic National Committee chair, a role that required extensive travel.

Banfill points to her career track record instead. According to GovTrack, from January 2005 to July 2016, Wasserman Schultz missed 479 of 8,736 roll call votes, which is 5.5%. If we compare her career track record, she doesn't hold the title of missing the most votes among Florida Democrats -- the ones that are higher are Alcee Hastings, Corrine Brown and Frederica Wilson.

The median of the lifetime records of representatives currently serving is 2.3 percent. 

The ad spells Wasserman Schultz's name wrong in the text.


 This blog was updated to include comments from Wasserman Schultz's campaign.