Meet the Press   |  April 20, 2014

DNC Chair on Obamacare, Keystone and More

The full Meet the Press interview with chair of the DNC Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Obamacare, the 2014 midterms, and the future of the Keystone pipeline.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we are back. the president's approval ratings are casting a deep shadow on the prospect for democrats in this year's upcoming elections. to discuss the challenges, i'm joined by florida congresswoman debbie wasserman schultz .

>> thank you.

>> here is the challenge. the president is out there making the case that, run on this, make the arguments, accuse the republicans of trying to take this away, but you have vulnerable democrats who are saying something else. they're basically saying the law is flawed, and we should fix it. this is gene shaheen in a radio news interview. she said, i think there are important things about the affordable care act that are working and working very well. i think we need to fix the things that are not working and that's what i'm committed to. i would have designed it differently if i had been designing it. unfortunately, i wasn't the person who was writing the law. i think hindsight is always 20/20. you always know you could have done better. to me that's not a ringing endorsement to get people out there to vote.

>> that's legislation 101. that's how we have handled laws and their evolution throughout american history . the president is right and jeanne shaheen is right. we have a law that is working. 8 million people have gained health care coverage as a result of signing up for the affordable care act plan. 129 people with pre-existing conditions no longer have to be worried about being dropped and denied coverage. i'm one of them as a breast cancer survivor. you have millions of seniors paying lower costs on their prescription drugs, and these are the things that republicans are obsessed with taking away and focused on going everything they can to block president obama at every turn even if it means hurting the middle class while at the same time you have our candidates, our incumbents like jeanne shaheen and mary landrieu who understand this is a law that's working for millions of people and as we discover there are problems, we should work together --

>> but you're making the argument on the merits as the president is doing, but what you've got is something that's opaque, as david shribman was saying, the publisher in pittsburgh, a lot of people simply don't understand it, and they don't understand fully what the impact is going to be. jonathan martin writing in "the new york times" this morning writes this, democrats could ultimately see some political benefit from the law, but in this midterm election they're confronting a vexing reality. many of those helped by the health care law , notable lie young people and minorities are the least likely to cast votes that could preserve it. even though millions have gained health insurance and millions more will benefit from some of its popular provisions. the angry opponents are more mobilized than the beneficiaries said david axelrod . midterm falloff, sixth year of his presidency. this has to be an urgent issue for you as the chair of the party making sure democrats get out and vote and who are excited about this law.

>> there are millions of people who understand the benefits of the health care law , particularly women who i have spoken to who are breast cancer patients, who no longer have to choose between the chemotherapy chemotherapy --

>> you're arguing the merits, chairman, which i understand, but do you not have a turnout problem that you're worried about?

>> every election it is critical that we turn our vote out, and i would and will match up our ground game and our turnout operation which ran circles around the republicans in 2012 and in 2008 any day of the week. we have senators across this country, house members, there's 14 open seats in the house. 11 of which democrats have an advantage, only 3 of which you would saline more to the gop in terms of advantage. you have the republican party who is strangled by the tea party . they're weighed down by republican primaries in which the tea party candidates are the likely winners, 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.

>> but the -- you have a historic disadvantage because a president in second term in midterms historically has a difficult time. you have a president with a low approval rating and let's be hon etion, you have vulnerable democrats who are in effect running against this white house . let's talk about the issue of our energy future, the keystone xl pipeline. the president and the administration delayed a decision on whether this pipeline should be approved going from canada down through the united states into the gulf of mexico . and mary landrieu from louisiana issued a statement on friday saying this critical of the administration. today's decision by the administration amounts to nothing short of an indefinite delay of the keystone pipeline . the decision is irresponsible, unnecessary, and unacceptable. by making it clear that they will not move the process forward until there's a resolution in a lawsuit in nebraska, the administration is sending a signal that the small minority who oppose the pipeline can tie up the process in court forever. there are 42,000 jobs, $20 billion in economic activity, and north america 's energy security at stake. isn't it true that because the president can't get a big law to combat climate change, he doesn't want to upset those environmentalists who would be upset with him if he approved keystone.

>> what's true is the decision over the keystone pipeline is complex and it has to be examined very carefully. it affects multiple states. what's also true is incumbent senators like mary landrieu understand the issue that is are important on the ground in their state to their constituents and take a look, david , at the 2012 u.s. senate results. you have in almost half of the senate races that we had an open seat the democratic candidate won even though mitt romney won that state. so, you know, the predictions that we are headed for the minority in the united states senate really don't line up with the historical situation on the ground in those campaigns. will the president approve keystone in the end? you had s should he?

>> he has to continue to take a close look at it. the environmental concerns are legitimate.

>> are you worried this shouldn't be resolved boofer the election because of the potential impact it could have?

>> as a member of congress who represents people in south florida , i want to make sure the right decision is arrived at and the president makes that decision carefully and doesn't put politics in his decision.

>> is the issue in the fall a referendum on president obama ?

>> no, absolutely not. no. in a midterm election -- and even like i said in 2012 , these elections, particularly the senate elections, are referendums on the candidates running. if they were not, you would have seen the states where mitt romney won --

>> but these democrats seem to know the issue -- they are critical of the administration, critical of ous law. they're not running on specific needs in their state, shaheen and landrieu you just mentioned. they understand that a midterm race is really about the president and his policies. it's about president obama and health care . is that not the case?

>> what's the case is each of these candidates have to run their own race. they have to talk about and focus on the issue that is are important to their constituents, and what's also true is if you look at the success rate and the track record of these incumbent members, mark pryor , mary landrieu , mark begich , they're all ahead of any of their republican opponents and these republicans are mired in a civil war where the tea party has won, and they are consistently nominating the most extreme candidates and we're on offense in states as well. so you've got georgia and kentucky and even mississippi where we have a very good chance to pick up those seats. so this election is going to be quite competitive but we have to turn our voters out.

>> would you like to see hillary clinton campaigning?

>> i'm confident hillary clinton is going to be helpful to our candidates across the country. that's something that i'm entirely comfortable with.

>> thank you, congresswoman.

>> thank you so much, david .

>> nice to have you here.