White House: Obama has 'strong confidence' in Wasserman Schultz
© Anne Wernikoff

President Obama has "strong confidence" in Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the White House said Thursday after a report suggested that the Florida congresswoman had fallen out of favor with the president and top Democratic lawmakers.


White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that “based on the strong record of leadership at the DNC, the president has strong confidence in her ability to lead that organization.”

But that statement came in response to a question about whether the president retained "complete confidence" in the chairwoman. Earnest pointedly declined to use that phrase.

Earnest also avoided saying unequivocally that the president wanted to see Wasserman Schultz serve as the party's leader until then end of his presidential term.

"I don't anticipate, at this point, any reason to change that," Earnest said when asked if she should serve until January 2017.

Earnest did say Wasserman Schultz had a “pretty strong record of performance to indicate the benefits of the tireless work that she’s been engaged in," noting she had traveled to 37 states and 99 cities over the past 20 months.

"Under her leadership, the DNC has expanded their digital and technology staff, who are providing campaigns of all sizes, cutting-edge tools that the Obama campaign used to great success in 2012," Earnest continued, adding that the committee had also launched a voter expansion project in swing states.

"She also has been hard at work working closely with the finance staff of the DNC to pay off debt that the DNC incurred in the context of the 2012 elections," Earnest said. 

"The DNC incurred that debt to assist Democratic candidates up and down the ballot in all 50 states. President Obama benefited from those efforts as well, so he certainly has been pleased to see the DNC succeed in paying off their debt, and I now understand they're operating a six or seven million-dollar surplus."

The Politico story chronicling Wasserman Schultz's tenure at the DNC included a pointed exchange between Obama and the chairwoman over the debt. In the story, Wasserman Schultz reportedly eagerly told the president when the DNC had finally retired its outstanding loans. 

“Debbie, you think I don’t know?” Obama responded. “I’m the president of the United States.”

Republicans said Wasserman Schultz was being used as a scapegoat to blame for Democrats' likely losses this November. 

“As the White House continues to see their plunging poll numbers hamstring candidates running in the midterms, it looks like they’ve found their scapegoat in the DNC. Once again, a lot of leadership coming out of the White House right now, Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said in a statement. 

Updated at 2:38 p.m.