OTR Interviews

Wasserman Schultz: Romney not as committed to Israel, uses Mideast as 'political opportunity'

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz sounds off on the differences between Mitt Romney and President Obama in final debate

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 22, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think Governor Romney maybe hasn't spent enough time looking at how our military works. You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military has changed, we have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them, we have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines...

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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, joins us from Boca Raton.

Good evening, Congresswoman.

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, DNC CHAIRWOMAN: Good evening, Greta, great would to be with you. Thank you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Nice to have you. OK, in the debate, tonight, if you had to single out one area that shows the biggest difference between these two candidates, what is it?

SCHULTZ: Well, I thought the most clear moment was when President Obama talked about his trip to Israel as a candidate for president and Mitt Romney's. When President Obama went to Israel, went to Sderot, traveled to southern Israel, met with the families who are victims of the rocket attacks coming from -- being launch from Gaza, made sure he visited Yad Vashem and visited our troops.

When Mitt Romney went to Israel as a candidate, he had two fund-raisers and brought donors over there. I mean -- Mitt Romney? What I was surprised about, Greta, that during the entire section of the debate on the Middle East, Mitt Romney didn't bring up Israel once. And I think it just shows that he really isn't committed to Israel in the way that he says he is and has really only used the issue as a political opportunity, and not done a very good job, at that.

VAN SUSTEREN: I actually thought -- I was actually surprised, I thought it was a missed opportunity for Governor Romney, because had that been brought up against me and I were Governor Romney, I would have mentioned that President Obama didn't meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu when he was here last August, and that, for instance, even today there was a posting on the -- I think it was the Israel's embassy website where they talked about they were a little bit surprised about the story about whether it would be bilateral talk with Iran or not.

I mean, it doesn't look like, you know, it may be totally wrong, but it looks like there's a very chilly relationship between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu. So, I actually was surprised. I mean, I was surprised that Governor Romney didn't hit him with that.

SCHULTZ: I was surprised that Governor Romney, who has said Israel is a priority, didn't mention it. And President Obama made it very clear that in word and deed he has had Israel's back. He has reiterated time and again that when it comes to making sure that Israel and United States stand strong together. We have the closest military and security cooperation. Time and again, on the world stage, President Obama has stood up for Israel and demonstrated that they are one of our strongest allies, particularly in that region and that he'll have his real facts, time and again. And Mitt Romney just continues to use Israel as a political opportunity. Not mentioning it at all during an entire section of the debate about the Middle East really just surprised me, particularly as a Jewish woman.

VAN SUSTEREN: One of the questions that was raised was the red line. I don't know which candidate got it, but it was a particular -- I thought dodged by whoever got it. I don't know who got it in question. But I'm curious or not, whether or not you think that we should adhere to some sort of red line as Prime Minister Netanyahu has, at least, he seemed to have asked the world and asked us.

SCHULTZ: Well, I think President Obama made it very clear that he, as president, will never allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, that he's made that a priority by making sure that through international, the most biting international sanctions and domestic sanctions that we've brought Iran to its knees, we've really decimated their economy -- they've gone from being really in a situation where they had strength at the beginning of the presidency, before he took office, to now they're isolated and the world is united against them.

So, I mean, I thought very clearly President Obama demonstrated that his policy as commander in chief, has made sure that there has been distance between Iran and their ability to attain a nuclear weapon and that all options are on the table.

VAN SUSTEREN: There is a lot of discussion tonight, at least especially toward the end, about the economy and I'm curious whether or not you link the health of our economy to foreign policy or do you think there was too much discussion about the economy, tonight?

SCHULTZ: No, no. I mean, I think it was -- President Obama, again, made it very clear that because he's been able to reestablish our relationships diplomatically, that were in patterns at the end of the last administration, we've been able to exercise our leadership and reestablish our leadership on world stage, which in the global economy really makes a difference. And by bringing troops home from Iraq, making sure that we wind down our involvement in Afghanistan, bringing Osama bin Laden to justice, we can focus on nation building here at home.

I thought time and again Mitt Romney showed that he was all over the map. It was more like he was auditioning, when he agreed with President Obama so many times, auditioning to be President Obama's secretary of state rather than commander in chief, which I thought he showed he was not ready for.

VAN SUSTEREN: Quick question, how's the ground game in Ohio for your party? Because I asked the same of Reince Priebus from the Republican Party.

SCHULTZ: Our ground game in Ohio is really strong. I mean, I think, because we've been there since the beginning of the 2008 campaign and never left. We've had a superior early vote operation. We've closed the gap that the Republicans usually have in absentee ballot requests. We've got tens of thousands, you know, walking door-to-door, making phone calls volunteer operation that is second to none. And we've been building towards the most significant dynamic grass roots presidential campaign, and that's what is going to deliver Ohio and help President Obama win the presidency, once and again.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I assure you, the people of Ohio are feeling pretty popular, these days. Both parties are very...

SCHULTZ: As they should.

VAN SUSTEREN: As they should. Congresswoman, thank you.

SCHULTZ: Thank you, Greta.