The energetic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida took the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee yesterday, telling a story of how she fought back a good ole boy network to quickly move up the ranks. "I was 25 years old when I first ran for the Florida House of Representatives," she said in her maiden speech.
In telling her personal story, she pledged to fight just as hard for President Obama and the Democrats as did in her first race in Florida.Back in 1992, she said, "I believed I was ready to serve, but the good ole boys in my Democratic Club had other plans. They patted me on the head and told me that I was too young; that I needed to wait my turn. Well, that just strengthened my resolve. I was determined to prove them wrong. [Read 10 things you didn't know about Debbie Wasserman Schultz.]"So I spent every single day, rain or shine, knocking on the doors of my would-be constituents. Before that race was over, I had knocked on 25,000 doors. Now, remember, this is Florida -in the summer. My husband was so concerned about how much weight I was losing that he started sending me out the door with a chocolate milkshake for breakfast each morning."I was involved in a six-way primary. Competition was fierce and my opponents well funded. I had to demonstrate to my community who I was and what I stood for. But I was not deterred, because I knew that even though I did not have a lot of money, no one was going to out-work me."I won that primary with 53 percent of the vote and went on to win the general election with 64 percent of the vote. And at the age of 26, I became the youngest woman ever elected to the Florida legislature. That race taught me two things:First, there is no substitute for good, old-fashioned hard work. Second, don't take no for an answer."Read her whole speech below:
DNC MeetingCongresswoman Debbie Wasserman SchultzMay 4, 2011 Thank you. Thank you all so much for your unwavering support.Ray, Alejandra, Joyce and Stephen, you each managed to capture a part of who I am and why I firmly believe in the future of this great nation and our Party - the most progressive, diverse and forward thinking political organization in this country.Donna Brazile, thank you for always being there for Democrats. You have blazed so many trails, including as Interim Chair.I remember the first time I saw Donna on T.V. for Al Gore and how proud I was to see a woman running his campaign.As we transfer the gavel this afternoon, there is no doubt in my mind that women like Bella Abzug and Fannie Lou Hamer will be smiling down on us. Let us all thank the phenomenal Donna Brazile for her unwavering service to our Party and our country.I must also recognize the leadership and service of the next Senator from the Commonwealth of Virginia Tim Kaine. Tim served us as Chairman for the past two years with dignity and discipline. He is leaving us a Party that is as strong as ever.I also thank and acknowledge my family, my Congressional Staff and the staff at the DNC.My family - my parents Larry and Ann Wasserman, my children Rebecca, Jake, and Shelby, and particularly my husband Steve - all of whom are here with me today - they make major sacrifices so that I can do a job I love. I am truly fortunate to have such a wonderful and close family.My congressional staff works tirelessly on my behalf. They are a committed group of public servants and I appreciate and value all that they do.And, to the dedicated staff that keeps our Party running and winning, you have been there for me as Vice Chair, you have made my transition to the DNC easy, and, you have pulled off yet another successful DNC meeting. I look forward to working even more with all of you.Of course, I am so honored to have been nominated for this position by the President, and I am humbled beyond words at your vote of confidence. To have been asked by President Obama to lead our Party is an indescribable feeling.You know, you've heard a lot about me today, but there's one piece of my personal story that hasn't yet been mentioned: my first decision to run for office.