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Obama keeps party chair

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By McClatchy Newspapers
Monday, Dec. 3, 2012, 8:12 p.m.
 

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Monday asked Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida — who led the Democratic Party in a triumphant election year but was criticized for a platform ommission during the party's convention — to serve another term as the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

“I've asked Debbie Wasserman Schultz to continue her excellent work as chair of the DNC. Thanks for all you do, Debbie,” the president tweeted.

The Democratic National Committee is all but certain to ratify Obama's decision at its winter meeting in January. Party chairs usually are elected for four-year terms. Wasserman Schultz would head the party during the 2014 election cycle, a tough task, because a second-term president's party historically suffers losses in midterm elections.

Wasserman Schultz, 46, who won her fifth term in Congress last month, is credited with helping to steer the Democratic National Committee to a successful election. Democrats did even better than pollsters and analysts had predicted, with net gains of two Senate seats and at least seven seats in the House of Representatives. Obama won a popular-vote majority and a big electoral-vote majority over Republican Mitt Romney.

“She's done a good job. You can't argue with the results of the election,” said Kathy Sullivan, Democratic national committeewoman from New Hampshire and a former chairwoman of the state party.

Wasserman Schultz supported Hillary Clinton over Obama in the 2008 Democratic nominating contest, and she's credited with helping to push the Clintons to campaign vigorously for the party this fall.

Although party officials regard her highly, Wasserman Schultz came under fire earlier this year at the Democratic National Convention. The gathering in Charlotte — carefully calibrated to give Obama a rousing sendoff for the general election campaign — erupted in chaos when the platform failed to mention God or to say that Jerusalem is Israel's rightful capital.

Wasserman Schultz called the omissions “essentially a technical oversight.” The language was changed after the issues were made public, but the revisions occurred only after a confused scene on the convention floor. Convention Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa, the mayor of Los Angeles, called for voice votes, but the verdict was unclear. He finally said the changes had been approved, as many on the floor booed.

The controversy died quickly, and Wasserman Schultz was widely praised within the party on Monday.

“You don't mess with success,” said Dick Harpootlian, the chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party. “There's a very small group of people involved with and enthralled by the party platform, but it often doesn't affect the vote.”

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