Speaking to reporters today, DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz took a page from the Republican playbook when talking about three of President Obama’s top potential rivals in 2012.
Speaking of former governors Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman and Tim Pawlenty, Wasserman Schultz said, “I’m concerned about their commitment to American exceptionalism.”
It’s a line you hear often from Republicans on the trail when they’re speaking about Obama, and it’s usually read as a thinly-veiled attack on the president’s patriotism or his respect for “traditional American values” and the like. Responding to a followup question from TPM, Wasserman Shultz said that’s not exactly what she meant.
What the chair of the Democratic party questions, she said, are the support for America’s middle class and other core facets of the national identity coming from three of the GOP presidential field’s most-hyped names:
The way i would explain that statement is why aren’t they supportive of closing tax loopholes to make sure that we can not incentivize companies to ship jobs overseas? Why aren’t they supportive of making sure that we can strike a balance and not pile all the pain on top of people that can least afford it in the middle class and working families? Why do they only care about tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires? Why would they say they oppose bailing out the auto industry and rescuing the auto industry so that we can make sure we can have a strong and vibrant American automobile industry and then run from it? I mean why would they not want to make sure that everyone has access to health care? I mean these things — without them it would have prevented us from out-educating, out innovating and out competing our competitors in the global economy. So I just say that because it’s a reaction to their policies.
In 2008, President Obama made attacking the ‘American exceptionalism’ talk and other similar rhetoric a highlight of his campaign. Wasserman Schultz insisted she was not going down same path the Republicans do when they throw the phrase around on the trail.
“I do not question their patriotism,” she said. “At all.”
Wasserman Schultz’ comments came at a breakfast meeting with reporters hosted by the Christian Science Monitor Thursday.
Team Romney responded to Wasserman Schultz’ remarks.
“The governor wrote a whole book about [American exceptionalism],” spokesperson Andrea Saul told TPM. “It’s called “No Apology.” We’ll be happy to send her a signed copy.”