TAMPA, Fla. -- It's common to spot GOP politicians wandering around the Republican National Convention, talking to reporters and doing interviews in the area known as "radio row." South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Florida Sen. Mel Martinez have all stopped by. But on Thursday, a rarer species was turning heads: Democrats.
Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who also happens to be a Florida congresswoman, was on radio row doing several interviews, including with KPCC and WYNC. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) was accompanied by activist Sandra Fluke, who became famous after right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh attacked her for her stance on contraception insurance coverage. The latter two are in town for the day for a women's rights event, at which Wasserman Schultz is also speaking.
Wasserman Schultz is one of the highest-profile Democrats in Congress and something of a villain to Republicans. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee even joked about her in the opening lines of his convention speech on Wednesday night.
She told The Huffington Post that she wasn't too concerned about the attention she was attracting from Republicans at the convention.
"I've seen a lot of folks from Florida here that I know, and I've been in the [state] legislature for 12 years -- before I was elected to Congress for the last eight. So I've had a nice reception. And then some folks who -- I have alligator skin, so I'm basically impervious to the criticism," Wasserman Schultz said, as reporters and other convention-goers rushed to get a glimpse and ask her questions. One woman yelled that she wanted the congresswoman to talk to conservative media outlets.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) was standing nearby as Wasserman Schultz went from radio booth to radio booth. He disparaged her presence at the GOP gathering.
"It shows a certain level of desperation," he said. "Tradition is pretty much that each party holds a convention, and they get their three or four days in the sun."
In the middle of his comments to HuffPost, Wasserman Schultz walked by, followed by a big group of reporters.
"Hi, Congresswoman, how are you doing?" he waved. Wasserman Schultz didn't respond -- in all likelihood because she didn't hear him.
When asked whether he would be going to the Democratic convention, Johnson replied, "I haven't been asked. I am generally happy to do anything I possibly can to help make sure that President Obama's a one-term president. If I were to be asked, somehow I'd change my schedule."
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