TAMPA,Fla.–You may not expect to see the chairwoman of the Democratic National Comittee at a Republican debate; better yet, in a spin room taking questions from reporters at a debate sponsored by the Tea Party. Standing between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney’s designated areas of the spinroom, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz spoke to members of the press, not only to defend President Obama from the GOP candidates’ verbal attacks, but also seeking their support for President Barack Obama’s jobs bill.
When asked by CNN political reporter Shannon Travis how much she and the DNC are spending to study the style of the candidates who could be up against President Obama, she shot down that notion in its entirety.
“Actually what we are focused on right now- as a member of Congress and as a party, is focusing like a laser on passing the American jobs act, getting people back to work. At the end of the nominating process, President Obama will have a Republican nominee to run against and at that point we’ll be analyzing whatever it is that individual’s style is. Right now, we’ve got a job to do, and that’s to focus on getting people back to work and trying to get the Republicans to step up to the plate and work with us.” The chairwoman added that “[The Democratic Party] is focused on what the American people’s priorities are: helping the middle class and working families get back to work.”
The largest group of Americans without jobs also happens to be a key voter demographic for the 2012 election. With the nation’s unemployment rate holding steady at 9.1 percent, Americans ages 18-24, hold a majority share of the statistic: 17.2 percent of those unemployed.
We heard a lot from the GOP candidates about creating jobs and boosting the economy Monday night, but will this crucial group of potential voters actually show up to the polls this election season?
In 2008, young people played a crucial role in electing Barack Obama, and in 2012, we have the potential to make a difference as well. According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, 52% of Americans between the ages of 18-29 voted in the 2008 presidential election — 68% for Obama, and 32% for John McCain. Despite the majority’s preference for Obama, only 45% of all young voters identified as Democrats, the Center found.
But the Republican hopefuls are not targeting young first time voters, as Obama did in 2008, and it will be interesting to see if young people show up to the polls at all this time around. When asked by The Virgin Voting Project if she was concerned that young people wouldn’t come out to vote in 2012, Chairwoman Wasserman Schultz said, “We aren’t taking anything for granted but we definitely have seen enthusiasm from young people- continued, sustained enthusiasm …I’ve traveled the country and seen a tremendous enthusiasm from young people and we’re gonna work hard to add to their ranks.”
To those young Americans who say they’re not interested in politics, she adds: “It is extremely important that you [as young people] get engaged and involved, because the decisions that are made by whoever is elected President are going to affect your life for generations, so don’t sit on the sidelines. Roll up your sleeves, get involved, and help America’s voters make a choice next fall.”