BEDFORD – Less than 12 hours after Republican Mitt Romney’s primary win Tuesday, a top Democratic leader was already attacking the GOP front-runner on jobs and taxes.
With the presidential primary over, New Hampshire has again become a two-party battleground. And Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz called Romney a “wounded candidate” at Wednesday’s Politics and Eggs breakfast hosted by the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.
Wasserman Schultz wasted little time in her talk before going on the attack against Romney, who has built a head of steam toward the Republican presidential nomination.
She criticized his corporate past and his party’s tax policies, contrasting them with President Barack Obama’s first-term achievements.
There was little doubt Wasserman Schultz had taken off her party’s gloves. For emphasis she told the non-partisan crowd, “On to victory.”
The end of the primary – which was a decidedly Republican affair because Obama is essentially assured of the Democratic Party’s nomination – means Democrats can again have the spotlight as they fight for the state’s voters for November’s general election.
She said the primary couldn’t have come soon enough for Romney, who saw his poll popularity eroding in the days leading to Tuesday’s contest.
Romney showed a disconnect with most Americans in the past few days by saying he feared getting “a pink slip” when he was younger and that he liked to “fire people” for bad service, she said.
Romney made that last remark Monday at a Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce event. It was in the context of talking about having the opportunity to change health care carriers.
Regardless, the comment was considered a huge gaffe and Democrats have and will likely continue using it to diminish Romney’s candidacy.
Wasserman Schultz also touched on the other component of that line of attack: Romney’s past leadership of a private investment firm that profited by purchasing and streamlining companies, a process that included layoffs.
Romney “made a profit at any cost, outsourcing jobs and deliberately bankrupting companies,” she said.
Obama, by contrast, has created jobs, provided tax breaks to 95 percent of Americans, and has given businesses the sorts of tax cuts that allow them to grow, she said.
Romney espouses the tax breaks that former President George W. Bush enacted last decade that benefitted only the wealthy, she said.
Wasserman Schultz spent most of her talk saying Obama is the candidate who relates most to ordinary Americans, especially on issues such as health care.
Republicans are fighting to see who can repeal Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act the fastest, she said. Having health insurance plans that accept people with pre-existing conditions is a key component of that new law, she said.
Wasserman Schultz, who beat breast cancer, said her illness at the time had her, like many other Americans before the law passed, “one job loss away from being uninsured.”
“And that’s what the role of government is for: Government can make sure the private sector gives health care opportunities to all Americans,” she said.
Wasserman Schultz is a U.S. representative from Florida. When she was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, she was a member of the House.
She also shot a zinger at Romney’s New Hampshire campaign, saying his Manchester headquarters already has a “for lease” sign on the window. The Obama campaign, however, will keep its offices active until Election Day in November, she said.
Answering a question from Bedford resident Walter Gallo, Wasserman Schultz said the lack of civility in politics had worsened since the emergence of the tea party.
The tea party’s approach to those they disagree with is: “When you’re wrong, you’re the enemy.”
Wasserman Schultz – who is friends with Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was seriously injured in a shooting in her home state a year ago – tied the accused shooter’s actions to the discord in politics.
“We need to tone things down (especially) in light of the Tucson tragedy,” she said.
Albert McKeon can be reached at 594-6528 or firstname.lastname@example.org.