Monday morning, Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz endured an angry and hostile reception at the breakfast hosted by her home state’s delegation at the Democratic National Convention, the day after she announced she would resign as chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
The controversy that led to Wasserman Schultz’s resignation was leaked DNC emails, published by Wikileaks, where she and other Democratic Party officials had written disparaging comments about Sen. Bernie Sanders and showed favoritism to former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton. Reported Politico:
But Wasserman Schultz became fatally damaged goods in her own party after the WikiLeaks release showed Wasserman Schultz referring to Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver as “damn liar” and an “ASS” and said the senator has “never been a member of the Democratic Party and has no understanding of what we do.”
The emails fed the criticism from progressives and Sanders’ supporters that Wasserman Schultz and her team were hostile to his campaign from the start and had done their best to help Clinton win the Democratic nomination at the Vermont senator’s expense. Before the tussle with Sanders, Wasserman Schultz clashed with fellow Democrats in Congress, the White House and even a top party donor in Florida, John Morgan.
On Sunday, Wasserman Schultz released a statement announcing that she would resign as DNC chair after the convention ended. Longtime Clinton ally Donna Brazile will temporarily step down as a CNN contributor to serve as DNC interim chair.
Making the situation all the more awkward: less than a week before, she had posted several tweets taunting the Republicans’ chair, Reince Priebus, over his ability to keep his party’s convention in order.
Hey @Reince – I’m in Cleveland if you need another chair to help keep your convention in order. #RNCinCLE
— D Wasserman Schultz (@DWStweets) July 18, 2016
Offer still stands, @Reince, @SpeakerRyan. https://t.co/STzGMyUp3d
— D Wasserman Schultz (@DWStweets) July 19, 2016
Those tweets might be embarrassing — as Politico’s Marc Caputo wrote about them, “Karma’s gonna getcha on Twitter, folks” — but far more humiliating for the Congresswoman was the scene in Philadelphia Monday morning, as she addressed the Florida delegation at the convention during a breakfast meeting.
Some had speculated that Wasserman Schultz would skip the breakfast, coming mere hours from the weekend’s tumultuous news, but she appeared as scheduled. She did not address the Wikileaks email controversy at all, but the crowd was not going to let her forget. While some cheered her, Sanders supporters booed and jeered throughout her remarks, waving signs with his name and “E-mails” and “Thanks for the ‘help’ Debbie!”
CNN reported that order had to be restored to even allow her to speak, and a chant of “Shame! Shame! Shame!” could be heard near the end of her remarks.
Outgoing DNC chief Debbie Wasserman Schultz speaks at #DemConvention amid email controversy. https://t.co/qOT3ROJrzX https://t.co/C20N7KSEUI
— CNN (@CNN) July 25, 2016
Debbie Wasserman Schultz jeered at speech to delegates https://t.co/86ta1oaSxg
— CNN (@CNN) July 25, 2016
Wasserman Schultz left the breakfast immediately after concluding her remarks, surrounded by security and refusing questions from reporters.
It is not yet known whether she still intends to address the full convention later today. If she does speak, she risks a booing crowd creating very bad optics for Democrats hoping to draw a contrast with last week’s rancorous Republican Convention, where a contentious fight over a rules vote led to delegates walking out, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was booed for refusing to endorse Trump during his remarks. In a Monday morning press conference, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook told reporters that she still intended to speak, and brushed off suggestions that she was being urged to stay off the stage.
The Congresswoman’s battles won’t end when the convention wraps. She’s being challenged in the primary for her seat by law professor Tim Canova, who has attacked her throughout the campaign for actions she had taken as DNC chair. Sanders himself endorsed Canova, and sent out a fundraising email on his behalf. “Well, clearly, I favor her opponent,” Sanders told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “His views are much closer to mine than as to Wasserman Schultz’s.”
Canova is also planning to file a complaint against Wasserman Schultz with the Federal Elections Commission. “Our lawyers are preparing a complaint against Wasserman Schultz that we will file with the FEC for her wrongful use of DNC resources in her campaign against me, based on the Wikileaks disclosures,” he told Adam Smith at the Tampa Bay Times.
UPDATE: Looks like her hostile breakfast reception was enough to convince Wasserman Schultz to stay off the main convention stage. She told the Sun Sentinel that she would not gavel in the convention:
“I have decided that in the interest of making sure that we can start the Democratic convention on a high note that I am not going to gavel in the convention,” Wasserman Schultz said.
“I stepped down the other day because I wanted to make sure that having brought us to this momentous day and to Philadelphia and planned the convention that is going to be the best one that we’ve ever had in our party’s history that this needs to be all about making sure that everyone knows that Hillary Clinton would make the best president,” she said.
This post has been updated with additional information.
Photo credit: Elena Schneider/ Medill News Service via Flickr.
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