Wasserman Schultz at Forum Club lays out progressive agenda for Obama second termby Andrew Abramson | January 25th, 2013
Fresh off President Barack Obama’s second inaugural speech, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Friday echoed Obama’s themes of gun control, equality for gays and lesbians, immigration reform and climate change prevention at The Forum Club.
“In every corner of America, from Boca to Milwaukee, Seattle to Cincinnati, millions of people rallied around this shared vision for our country,” said U.S. Rep Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, speaking in front of 600 at The Palm Beach County Convention Center.
As the debate over gun control heats up in Congress, Wasserman Schultz recalled the story of the assassination attempt of her close friend, former U.S. Rep Gabrielle Giffords, and then spoke about the recent mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.
“When 20 six-year-olds lose their lives senselessly and needlessly because at the end of the day, no matter how deranged the individual was, he had access to weapons and high capacity magazines he had no business having access to,” she said. “There is no need for someone not in the military to have those (weapons) or else those little kids wouldn’t be dead.”
After Obama won 71 percent of the nationwide Hispanic vote in the 2012 election, Wasserman Schultz said the party “will ensure a level playing field for American workers in continuing to fight for comprehensive immigration reform. We’ll make clear we welcome the dreamers who see America as the land of opportunity.”
On Monday, Obama became the first president to use the word “gay” as a reference to sexual orientation in an inaugural speech. On Friday, Wasserman Schultz said the country is“finally seeing historic progress” in LBGT rights.
“I could not have been more proud on Monday when President Obama so eloquently reminded us as that as Americans our journey is not complete until it is complete for everybody,” Wasserman Schultz said.
While environmentalists criticized Obama for not doing enough to address climate change in his first term, Obama resurrected the issue in his inaugural speech.
Wasserman Schultz said Friday that there has to be a comprehensive plan on climate change, while referencing her fellow Palm Beach County congressmen.
“Lois (Frankel), Patrick (Murphy), Ted (Deutch) and I will ultimately represent Orlando rather than the coastline if we don’t do something soon,” Wasserman Schultz joked.
While social change was a major theme of Obama’s inaugural address, the country still faces economic crises and Wasserman Schultz called on Republicans to cooperate in the debt ceiling debate.
“The financial stability of America’s middle class families is not a bargaining chip,” she said. “It’s time to come together and bring down the deficit in a balanced, responsible way so we can keep growing our economy and there are opportunities for all American middle class families.”
On the potential of Hillary Clinton running for president in 2016, Wasserman Schultz said “I would love to see her run.” Wasserman Schultz called Vice President Joe Biden “the other giant” in the race and said she would be equally excited to see Biden run.
Wasserman Schultz mentioned New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley as other potential candidates but said Clinton’s decision will impact the rest of the field.
Wasserman Schultz also praised Congressional freshmen Murphy and Frankel.
“Patrick Murphy, with the race he ran and the impossible odds he faced, he definitely is someone to watch,” she said.
Wasserman Schultz said she first applied to work for Frankel as a state legislative aide when Wasserman Schultz was 22 years old. She didn’t get the job, but ended up working aside Frankel in the state house.
“It was one of those ‘pinch me’ moments that someone for whom I wanted to work for, we were now side by side. Now we’re colleagues again and I’m really thrilled we’re serving in Congress together and you’re going to do a fantastic job,” Wasserman Schultz said as Frankel watched from the crowd.
Palm Beach Councilman Bill Diamond, a big GOP fundraiser and one of the few Republican politicians in the audience, said afterward that he was “pleasantly surprised” and thought Wasserman Schultz’s comments were “conciliatory.”
“You’d expect (liberal themes) from the head of a political party, but the tone was not argumentative and it wasn’t that partisan. She didn’t portray Republicans as being devils,” Diamond said. “There seemed to be a willingness to work on common goals and find bipartisan solutions and I think that in the long run is encouraging.”