At some point in the past six months, Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been smack dab in the middle of your living room. It might have been on CNN, her irrepressible blond curls shaking as she sparred with Anderson Cooper. Or maybe you're lucky enough to have hosted the Democratic National Committee chairwoman for a political fundraiser.
Either way, you're not likely to forget the Florida congresswoman anytime soon.
Since she picked up the phone on the afternoon of April 5, 2011, to hear the president's voice, Wasserman Schultz has become the face of the Democratic Party. Her job is equal parts shield and sword: defending Barack Obama and attacking his Republican rivals, all while coordinating 435 House races across the country. But Wasserman Schultz insists her high-profile gig hasn't distracted her from her home turf.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
"My constituents know that I'm going up to Washington to go to bat for them every day," she says. "What [being the DNC chairwoman] has also given me is an opportunity to really be closer to the administration... so I can be more effective on behalf of my constituents in South Florida."
Whatever your political prism, you can't deny that Wasserman Schultz is a savvy political speaker capable of spinning even the worst news. Not even Obama's first debate flop fazed her.
"It was kind of astonishing that the only example Mitt Romney could give of something that he would cut was NPR and Big Bird," she says. "We've got really big problems... and the respect that he gave this problem was a throwaway line."
While at the center of Washington's political whirlwind, Wasserman Schultz's own district is something of a retreat. It stretches from Fort Lauderdale to Miami Beach and includes everyone from Holocaust survivors and Hispanics to one of the largest LGBT communities in the nation.
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"What it means is that as a mom [of three], I am raising kids who are growing up side by side with a cornucopia of diversity," she says. Plus, the sunny weather at her Weston home beats the hell out of Long Island, where she grew up. "I like to say that I'm Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Paradise."
When Obama won this past Election Day, Florida — along with Wasserman Schultz — was at the center of it all. Don't expect that to change anytime soon. "We are an important battleground state," she says. And if a year and a half in the national spotlight has proven anything, it's that Wasserman Schultz is at home on the frontlines.
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