POLITICS
04/20/2014 12:01 pm ET | Updated Apr 21, 2014

Debbie Wasserman Schultz: Democrats Have 2014 Advantage Over GOP 'Extremists'

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) rejected speculation Sunday that Democrats will get trounced in the 2014 midterm elections, instead arguing that Republicans are poised to lose heavily given their propensity to nominate "extremists."

Schultz was asked during an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" if Senate Democrats facing reelection in conservative states were particularly vulnerable due to Obamacare and President Barack Obama's indecision on the Keystone XL Pipeline. Host David Gregory pointed to Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who is up for reelection in New Hampshire, as an example, reading a statement in which Shaheen said the Affordable Care Act needs fixing and that she would have designed the law differently.

"Well, that's Legislation 101. I mean, that is how we have handled laws and their evolution throughout American history," Schultz said. "The president is right, and Jeanne Shaheen is right."

Schultz focused on the merits of the health care law, pointing out that 8 million people have signed up for private plans under the Obamacare exchanges and individuals with preexisting conditions are no longer denied coverage.

"Our incumbents, like Jeanne Shaheen, like Mary Landrieu ... understand that this is a law that's working for millions of people," she said. "And as we discover there are problems, we should work together to solve those problems."

Schultz disputed the notion that Democrats tend to have a turnout problem in midterm elections, even though history says otherwise.

"Our turnout operation ... ran circles around the Republicans in 2012 and in 2008," Schultz said.

"You have the Republican Party who is strangled by the Tea Party. They are weighed down by Republican primaries in which the Tea Party candidates are the likely winners," she went on. "And we have countless elections now that Democrats have won because the Republicans have nominated extremists that their voters reject. And that's the advantage we will have going into this election."

While it's true that crowded GOP primaries are doing Republicans a disservice in several competitive Senate races, such as North Carolina and Georgia, Democrats face an uphill battle in order to retain their majority in the upper chamber.

As The New York Times reported last month, many of this year's key Senate races will take place in heavily Republican territory. They include Arkansas, Alaska, Louisiana and Montana -- states where both the president and his health care law remain deeply unpopular.

But Schultz said the 2014 elections were not a referendum on Obama. "No, absolutely not," she said. "These elections, particularly the Senate elections, are referendums on the candidates running."

"This election is going to be quite competitive all the way to the end," Schultz added. "But we have to return our voters out, that's the bottom line."

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