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My Turn: Here’s what you should know about some visiting Republicans

Last modified: 3/15/2015 1:08:19 AM
There’s no denying New Hampshire occupies a unique position in the electoral process, and this weekend, several of the potential Republican candidates for president in 2016 are visiting the state, hoping to introduce themselves to New Hampshire voters.

Odds are that these potential candidates will focus on telling you what they think you want to hear. So before you take anything they say at face value, there are a few things about them that you should be aware of.

I happen to be quite familiar with Jeb Bush. He was governor of my home state of Florida, and I had to work with him during my time in the state legislature there. I can tell you that during his time as governor, Jeb Bush never fought for Florida’s middle-class families – and he isn’t about to start fighting for New Hampshire’s middle-class families now.

Bush has always done what’s best for himself and the people like him at the very top. As governor, he slashed taxes by billions, largely benefiting the wealthy and big corporations over the middle class. In the years after he left office, he cashed in on Wall Street while American families took the hit from the financial crisis.

We know what a Bush presidency would look like because we’ve seen it before: policies that wreck the economy and turn back the clock on social progress. Jeb is completely out-of-touch with the American people, and he’s no different than the rest of the Republican field.

In Wisconsin, Scott Walker has shown that he has the wrong priorities. He says he wants to bring Wisconsin to Washington, but the truth is he’s already brought the worst of Washington’s dysfunction and divisiveness to Wisconsin.

As governor, Walker has pitted the people of Wisconsin against each other in ideological fights – fights that almost always have ended with policies that hurt the middle class. His priority has been adhering to his ideological views and pleasing the special interests that have funded his campaigns. And none of that divisiveness has made his state any better – it’s made it worse. This week it was reported that every single county in Wisconsin had a higher unemployment rate in January than it did in December.

Walker even compared hard-working Wisconsinites, including teachers, to ISIS terrorists. I guess you’ll have to see whether he feels the same way about hard-working Granite Staters.

Ted Cruz is no stranger to extreme rhetoric and ideological stands either. For more than a year, he’s been the de-facto leader of the GOP in Washington, and we’ve seen how that’s turned out.

Cruz embodies what’s wrong with the Republican Party. I’m sure that the people of New Hampshire are just as frustrated with the blind opposition and obstruction that plagues Congress as my constituents are back home in Florida. Well guess what – that’s all Ted Cruz does.

Remember the government shutdown in 2013? Ted Cruz was its ringleader, and it cost our economy $24 billion. And he didn’t learn! Just this year, Cruz led the effort to shut down the Department of Homeland Security, which would have threatened our nation’s security.

The other candidate visiting is Rick Perry. Voters may remember him from his bizarre 2012 appearance in New Hampshire when he wobbled and laughed his way through a campaign speech before finishing sixth in the first-in-the-nation primary. Perry says that his problem in 2012 was that he was not prepared to run for president, but the truth is he’ll never be prepared to be president because of his disastrous record as governor.

In Perry’s Texas, two states existed: one for the special interests and allies that benefited from his tenure, and another for the working families that had to live under policies that hit their pocket books and has led to some of the worst rates of income inequality in the country.

As these candidates and others cycle through your home state, they’ll be asking for your votes. They’ll also be seeking favor with your junior senator, Kelly Ayotte – a fact that brings us to one of the most important things to know about these Republicans, which we just learned this week.

Ayotte, Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and 43 other Republican senators signed a letter to the leaders of Iran warning them that if they sign a nuclear deal, it won’t necessarily last past his administration. Governors Bush, Perry and Bobby Jindal have sided with these reckless partisans. We’re used to the GOP opposing President Obama and tossing around reckless rhetoric, but this crosses a new line.

This letter undermines the ability of the United States to reach diplomatic solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. For Republican presidential hopefuls to agree with their party’s tactics to weaken our capacity to advance U.S. interests around the world should be disqualifying.

This weekend, you have some of your first opportunities to hear from Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz and Rick Perry. Just remember: It may be what they leave out about their records that tells you everything you need to know.

(Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida is chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.)


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