This morning on “Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien,” DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) weighs in on recent CNN reporting that North Carolina has now moved from a “toss up” to leaning towards Mitt Romney.
“CNN is entitled to their opinion, but we don’t agree,” Rep. Wasserman Schultz says. “We’re confident that our ground game is going to carry President Obama to victory.”
Wasserman Shultz also responds to a video tape of Patrick Moran, son of Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), in which he details a scenario to commit voter fraud. Patrick was forced to resign from his dad’s campaign after the video’s release.
“It’s just indefensible,” Wasserman Schultz says. “That’s one person who was quickly taken out of the campaign and we stressed our commitment that there’s no tolerance for voter fraud.”
The DNC chair also weighed in on controversial rape comments from Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock. She questions Mitt Romney’s support for Mourdock/
“Women should be very concerned about whether or not Mitt Romney would be supportive of their health,” Wasserman Schultz says.
See more clips below. Rush transcript available after the jump
[MORE TO COME]
SOLEDAD O’BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Back to our STARTING POINT this morning, the battle for the White House is being waged in a shrinking number of states now. President Obama and Mitt Romney touring those crucial battleground states; they’re trying to get out every last vote. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. It’s nice to see you this morning. Thank you for talking with us. Appreciate it.
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, (D-FL) CHAIR, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Thanks, Soledad.
O’BRIEN: All right, let’s first talk about President Obama, who was on NBC’s “Rock Center” last night and he was asked about how close this race is and he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You guys have some short memories. Folks in your business were writing me off a year ago, saying there’s no way I would win, right? So, you know, these things go in ebbs and flows. And the one thing I’ve tried to always be is just steady, in terms of what I believe in, who I’m fighting for and, you know, I think that one of the qualities I bring to bear in this campaign is people see what did I say I was going to do in 2008, and what have I delivered, and they can have some confidence that the things the I say, I mean.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’BRIEN: CNN has just changed North Carolina as a toss-up state to now a lean Romney state. And our sources tell us that the Obama campaign officials think North Carolina is moving out of reach as a possibility, sort of a path for winning that. Where does the campaign stand, considering how tight this is in that particular leaning column for that state?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, we’ve been – first of all, CNN is entitled to their opinion.
O’BRIEN: Why, thank you.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: But we don’t – we don’t agree. We know, particularly in North Carolina, remember, our convention was in Charlotte, North Carolina. We planted a flag there and have had a really strong organization, ground game, that we’re executing, because early voting has begun there. And we were there from the beginning of the 2008 campaign and have never left. So we’re very confident in the grassroots strategy that we have all across the country, but particular in North Carolina. We’ve done tremendously well in voter registration and now in turnout.
Now, just in general, I would agree with the president, this election, we always knew was going to be tight. We knew it was going to be close. And our plans and the way we’ve structured this campaign has been such that we’re focused on executing the largest, most significant grassroots presidential campaign that really has ever been waged. And so through early voting, and cutting the Republicans’ advantage, which is their traditional advantage in absentee ballot requests, getting voters turned out, really hundreds of thousands of door knocks and phone calls, we’re confident that our ground game is going to help to carry President Obama to victory.
O’BREIN: Let me bring John Berman in for one second because we have reports that the Romney campaign has been closing up shop in that state, correct? I mean, haven’t they said that they’re so confident – I would think that if I heard my competitor felt so good about his chances that he’s closing up his campaign shop, because they feel that that’s a win –
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR, “EARLY START”: Well, they’re not going to campaign in a state where they don’t think they need to push him over the top. And we got a report today, they’re kind of mocking President Obama for not going to North Carolina. There will be Republicans on a tarmac in North Carolina as President Obama flies ahead going from Florida to Virginia today.
But I don’t think either Democrats, with my apologies to the chairman, or Republicans right now think that North Carolina is seriously in play. But it also is important to know that President Obama doesn’t need North Carolina to win. It is not a key part of their equation.
O’BRIEN: OK, let me run this videotape by you, if I can, Congresswoman. It was released by something called Project Veritas, which is a conservative group that’s headed by James O’Keefe, and this videotape shows Patrick Moran, who is a son of the Virginia Congressman Jim Moran, a Democrat from Virginia, giving advice to an undercover reporter from this conservative group on how to cast votes for 100 people that he says weren’t planning to vote. At the time, Patrick was field director for his father’s re-election campaign. He has since resigned after this tape became public.
I want to play a little chunk of this and then talk about it on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, you’re going to have, you’ll have somebody in house, but if they have what you feel is legitimate, they’ll argue for you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I imagine they’ll have a lawyer?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There will be a lawyer, yeah, or provided by the communities.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It’s got to look good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I think, it’s going to be a matter of –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need to find a computer guy. That’s probably my next step.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’BRIEN: OK, so what do you think of that videotape?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Oh, I mean it’s just indefensible and he was right to resign. But look, the difference here is that when something like that happens, in our – on our side, first of all, that’s one person, and he was quickly taken out of the campaign and we stressed our commitment to making sure that there is no tolerance for voter fraud.
But let’s look at the Republican party, Soledad. In three states, the Republicans have gotten caught paying Nathan Sproul’s firm for voter registration fraud. My state and Virginia and one other state where the Republicans paid a firm that was caught deliberately, fraudulently registering voters, tossing out some registrations that were Democratic voter registrations. And so the deep-seated, widespread voter fraud that the Republicans are seem to have been continuing to contract this firm for, that’s what’s very disturbing.
You know, isolated incidents, when they come up, they should be dealt with like this one was and there’s zero tolerance for voter fraud. That’s the bottom line.
O’BRIEN: I just want to read Patrick Moran, the young man in that video, released a statement to “The Washington Post”. I’m going to read it, which is, “At no point,” he says, “did I take this person seriously. He struck me as being unstable and joking and for only that reason did I humor him. In hindsight, I should have immediately walked away, making it clear that there is no place in the electoral process for even the suggestion of illegal behavior, joking or not.”
And his father said this, “Patrick is well liked and was a well respected member of the campaign team. This incident, however, was clearly an error in judgment. The campaign has accepted Patrick’s resignation, effective immediately.”
I think I have time to ask you quickly about Richard Mourdock and comments on rape. How do you think it’s going to im – we were just talking about it a moment ago with Jessica Yellin. How does it impact the race, do you believe?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I think it impacts the race because it’s another example of how deeply embedded the extremism is when it comes to women’s health in the Republican Party, whether it’s Todd Akin’s comments about legitimate rape or Richard Mourdock’s comments saying that a pregnancy from rape is a gift from God.
Mitt Romney, the only candidate that he’s cut a spot for, and has an ad running, is Richard Mourdock. And he’s only had his spokesperson say that he doesn’t agree with his views. Even John McCain has pulled his endorsement of Richard Mourdock and says that he won’t return the endorsement unless Richard Mourdock apologizes. Mitt Romney hasn’t asked Mourdock to apologize. He hasn’t pulled his ad or his endorsement. And that’s because Mitt Romney has said things like he would be delighted to sign a total ban on abortion.
So women should be very concerned about whether or not Mitt Romney would be supportive of their health. He’s clearly, consistently, not been. He’s embraced extremism when it comes to women’s health, and the Richard Mourdock endorsement and ad is the latest example.
O’BRIEN: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz joining us this morning. It’s nice to see you. Thank you for your time.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: You too. Thanks, Soledad.