TAMPA, Fla. There are not-so-goodie bags in Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s “war room” a few blocks from the Tampa Bay Times Forum, site of this week’s GOP convention.
Call them the Democratic National Committee chair’s anti-party favors.
Inside each bag are water bottles and trinkets adorned with Mitt Romney’s face, the word “Wrong” and related nay-say. Outside this just-say-boo enclave on Tampa Street is parked a moving billboard with the same message: “Romney Economics – Wrong for the Middle Class.”
Wasserman Schultz is a lot of things – one of President Obama’s brassiest mouthpieces and proud Jewish mom and wife – but subtle is not one of them. Of course, that’s a bonus when your main job this week is to rabble-rouse. She’s a party pooper and proud of it.
You could even call her the best-dressed protester in town.
Looking tan, with her “emphasized curls” (her words) photo-op-ready, the 45-year-old U.S. representative for Florida’s 20th congressional district showed off the war room to fans, friends and supporters.
When asked what will be more fun – being a beacon of hope at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, starting Sept. 4, or being a giant fly in the ointment in Tampa – Wasserman Schultz said this about being here during the RNC: “There’s a lot at stake in this election. We can’t afford to take a step back.”
When asked that same question again, her polite smile broke into a wide one: “I love every bit of it. ... It’s going to be crazy but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Former U.S. Rep. Jim Davis, one of Tampa’s own, said of his war room host: “What’s the winning formula in politics these days? Being yourself. She just shows up and she’s herself. I don’t know what it is about her, but she always goes full-throttle.”
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, another Democrat who is watching her own backyard invaded by the Other Guys, thanked Wasserman Schultz on Sunday for opening “an oasis away from the wind, rain and ... policies that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are espousing.” Wasserman Schultz followed that with a dig at Romney “reinventing himself” on the Republicans’ big stage: “They might as well put the biggest Etch-a-Sketch behind that podium.”
There was no one to fight back. No one to rebut. Not in here. No one dwelled on Wasserman Schultz’s Thursday spat with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, who took her to task for misquoting the Los Angeles Times in a DNC fundraising email. No one nudged her about her possible dreams of becoming the next governor of Florida.
Instead, in the calm before the storm, people ate fancy-looking pizza. And laughed.
For Wasserman Schultz it was a time to mingle. After all, she said, “I don’t think I’ll get invited to too many parties this week.”