DNC chair Wasserman Schultz under fire for Jim Crow comments
June 6th, 2011
05:39 PM ET
12 years ago

DNC chair Wasserman Schultz under fire for Jim Crow comments

Washington (CNN)-Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz might "say anything," but she also might take it back. After being blasted by opponents for invoking Jim Crow during a critique of voter identification laws backed by Republicans, the congresswoman admitted using the "wrong analogy."

When asked about the measures including identification requirements and shorter windows for early voting Sunday, the Florida congresswoman told Roland Martin, CNN contributor and host of "Washington Watch" on TV One, "You have the Republicans, who want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws and literally-and very transparently-block access to the polls to voters who are more likely to vote for Democratic candidates than Republican candidates." But she later backed down.

Wasserman Schultz also compared the controversial measures to poll taxes, fees historically used to keep African-Americans from voting that were abolished in 1964.

"Photo I.D. laws, we think, are very similar to a poll tax," she said Sunday. "Just look at African-American voters as a snapshot. About 25 percent of African-American voters don't have a valid photo I.D….the reason it's similar to a poll tax is because you've got the expense. You've got the effort."

During the interview Wasserman Schultz also railed against measures proposed by Florida GOP Gov. Rick Scott that would require photo identification, calling them "barriers" to those trying to exercise their right to vote.

"There is so little voter fraud, which is the professed reason the Republicans are advancing these laws," she asserted. "You're more likely to get hit by lightning than you are to see an instance of voter fraud in this country."

"Republicans are imposing laws all over the country, acting like…voter fraud is rampant, and it's ridiculous," Wasserman Schultz claimed.

The National Republican Congressional Committee fired back Monday and accused the four-term Democratic congresswoman of making "absurd accusations" and "offensive remarks."

In a statement the Republican committee said, "Wasserman Schultz will 'literally' say anything."

"After a week of fact-checks debunking her absurd accusations about the GOP plan to save Medicare, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is back at it again spouting offensive and outrageous statements," said the NRCC.

Wasserman Schultz responded Monday by dialing back her comments.

"Jim Crow was the wrong analogy to use," she said.

"I don't regret calling attention to the efforts in a number of states with Republican dominated legislatures, including Florida, to restrict access to the ballot box for all kinds of voters, but particularly young voters, African Americans and Hispanic Americans."

Wasserman Schultz was elected chair of the Democratic National Committee in early May, following the resignation of former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, who is now pursuing a seat in the U.S. Senate.

Filed under: Debbie Wasserman Schultz • DNC
soundoff (60 Responses)
  1. Four And The Door

    She was absolutely right. Voter suppression is voter suppression.

    June 6, 2011 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  2. Gene from Georgia

    What's she got to be sorry for? She's absolutely right.

    June 6, 2011 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  3. NES1000000

    She should not have backed down in my opinion. It is what it is – since the Republicans took over the House, they have tried to put women back into the dark ages. I suppose that's why so many Republican women like Sarah at the beginning (and some still do) – after being oppressed with no voice for so long, they felt they had a voice.

    June 6, 2011 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  4. AJ

    Why would she back down... she is right.

    Even the Republican strategist admit they hope for low voter turnout.

    June 6, 2011 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  5. It only stings the Republic Party because it has the ring of . . .


    June 6, 2011 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  6. Sam

    She should apologize profusely for telling the truth.

    June 6, 2011 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  7. Liyah

    When you look at the social law construction that the GOP is pushing legislature right across the country it does seem like they trying bring back the Jim Crow law days. She was right in saying that

    June 6, 2011 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  8. Ellen

    Why retract this statement? It's pretty much the gist of what is happening. A rose/supressed vote by any other name ...

    June 6, 2011 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  9. anthony

    Truth hurts. Im not mad at her.
    Besides Jim Crow laws.. I'm sure there is A LOT the Conservative Right would LOVE to take us back to.

    June 6, 2011 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  10. SouthernGirl

    She is correct; Republicans are trying to make it more difficult for minorities to vote who are more likely to vote for Democrats. It's not the same as Jim Crow, but it is just as bad because it potentially have the same effect...some African Americans not voting because they can't meet the requirement.

    June 6, 2011 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  11. CHW

    Rep Wasserman-Shultz was entirely right when she said what she said about the GOP/ts taking us back to pre civils right and voting laws for requiring photo IDs to vote because they know that a lot of seniors don't have photo IDs and it would cut down the Dem votes which would benefit the GOP/Ts.

    June 6, 2011 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  12. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    She got history correct and it's important to know the history of "Jim Crow" whether you disagree or not.

    June 6, 2011 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  13. kayla

    the truth hurts. the repugs are trying to do whatever it takes to beat president obama. it did not work in 06, and it will not work in 2012.

    June 6, 2011 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  14. whitmanguy

    Why did she back down?? She was dead right.

    June 6, 2011 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  15. Election integrity demands a positive ID

    The only acces being restricted is by those that are not legitimate voters. The Democrats want to enable any illegal to vote, thereby denying Americans THEIR vote. They want to damage the integrity of our elections. People need IDs for all kinds of things in this country. Why is voting any different?

    June 6, 2011 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  16. John

    Requiring ID is voter suppression? Are you for real? Some stores require ID to use a credit card. Is that shopper supression? Instead of facing REAL issues, these hardcore liberals just attack with no basis.

    June 6, 2011 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  17. Aaron

    Why did she back down? The Repub measures on identification and challenging voters is exactly a throwback to the Jim Crow laws. Both are targeted methods to prevent blacks from voting. The woman needs to stick to her guns. The truth is the truth.

    June 6, 2011 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  18. prayinthespirit

    How does a voter showing identification supress voting. Certainly if you are to be responsible enough to elect the officials who govern our country, an I.D. should not be so daunting?

    June 6, 2011 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  19. TB

    According to a recent poll, 40% of Mississippi Republicans believe that interracial marriage should be outlawed again. Banning interracial marriage would be one step in a return to the "Jim Crow" era. I don't believe that the Congresswomen's remarks were that far off-base.

    June 6, 2011 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  20. michaelam

    She should not have EVER backed down! She is absolutely, 100% correct about the GOP/Teahadists' lust for the Jim Crow days.

    Come 2012, vote ALL Republican/Teahadists out of the House, limit their presence in the Senate, and definitely keep them as far away possible from the White House. Send them packing at the state level as well! It's time to move our country forward!

    June 6, 2011 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  21. GOP-Tea Party Radical Social Engineering to Kill Grandma Medicare

    Debbie Wasserman Schultz is absolutely on the money on this one!!!

    GOP grand plan is to suppress votes if you are deemed as voting for their opponent....its their code word for labeling people unAmerican and Unpatriotic!!!!

    June 6, 2011 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  22. leon pa

    she right...

    June 6, 2011 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  23. Heisenberg

    Thing is– she's right.

    June 6, 2011 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  24. Mindie in Indie

    well it's true and I won't take it back.

    June 6, 2011 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  25. ThinkAgain

    I say use the analogy. Republicans ARE trying everything they can to steal the 2012 elections – and that includes putting as many roadblocks between a voter and the polls as possible.

    June 6, 2011 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
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