CHARLOTTE – Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, asked for Maryland’s help in winning Virginia for President Barack Obama and touted his first term accomplishments at a speech Monday to Maryland Delegates at the Democratic Convention in Charlotte.
“I can think of no better place to start off this convention than the Maryland delegates breakfast,” Wasserman Schultz told the crowd. “Each of you, think about how much of the next 64 days you can give. I know that in Maryland you are proud to be a very blue state, and you should be, but we know we’re going to need your help in making sure that Virginia stays blue.”
Wasserman Schultz, who represents south Florida, is a fixture on the Sunday talk shows and one of the most prominent Democrats in Congress. To kick off convention week with a speaker of her stature represents quite a coup for the Maryland Democratic Party.
“She chose us to visit this morning,” boasted Yvette Lewis, the chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party and the event’s emcee.
Wasserman Schultz touted the American Recovery Act, Obama’s initial economic stimulus package, calling it “the tourniquet we needed to stop the economic bleeding.”
As a breast cancer survivor, she thanked the president and his health care plan for ensuring that she could not be denied coverage based on a pre-existing condition.
She credited the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill with setting “rules of the road” to ensure financial stability.
In a passage that sounded as if it could have been pulled straight from the president’s stump speech, Wasserman Schultz said that the Democrats’ task in Charlotte is, “saying to the average person, if you work hard and play by the rules, everyone should have an opportunity to be successful, not just the people who already are successful.”
David Goodfriend, the host of Left Jab on Sirius Satellite Radio and a frequent guest on MSNBC and CNBC, spoke after Wasserman Schultz.
He called Democrats the party of inclusion, and talked about how inclusiveness on social issues — gay marriage and immigration specifically — can benefit the housing market and the economy.
“When two people get married, what’s the first big thing they buy together?” Goodfriend asked rhetorically. “If someone is living in fear of deportation, are they going to buy a house anytime soon?”
“Inclusion is good for business, it’s good for workers, and it’s good for the U.S. economy,” Goodfriend said.
At one point Goodfriend interviewed an empty suit, meant to represent Mitt Romney, in a send-up of Clint Eastwood’s mock interview of an empty chair as President Obama during the Republican National Convention last week.
The last speaker of the morning was J. David Cox, the president of the American Federation of Government Employees. Cox attempted to assuage concern among labor leaders that the convention was taking place in the least unionized state in the country.
“I take great pride that the DNC is in North Carolina, even though it is a right-to-work state,” Cox said. “That’s because there are two types of workers: those that have a union and those that want a union.”
John Sweeney, the former longtime president of the AFL-CIO and a Maryland delegate, generally agreed. “When we first heard (that the convention would be in North Carolina) we were concerned, but it is important to recognize workers wherever they are,” Sweeney said. “The spirit you see here shows that the labor movement is happy to be at this convention.”
Democrats were conscious of the labor issue, pushing back the first day of their convention and opting for a celebration of Labor Day in downtown Charlotte Monday called Carolina Fest. The convention begins Tuesday.