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Florida congresswoman heckled by Bernie Sanders supporters at Florida delegation caucus
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
PHILADELPHIA (CFP) — Under fire for leaked internal emails containing critical comments about Bernie Sanders and his presidential campaign, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida is stepping down as chair of the Democratic National Committee.
And after a raucous protest by Sanders supporters at a morning meeting of the Florida caucus, Wasserman Schultz abandoned plans to gavel in the first session of the Democratic National Convention July 25.
She told her hometown newspaper, the South Florida Sun Sentinel, that she canceled her appearance “in the interest of making sure that we can start the Democratic convention on a high note.”
The DNC had already decided to replace Wasserman Schultz as the permanent convention chair, a position normally filled by the party chair if the House Speaker is of the other party.
In a statement issued on the eve of the convention announcing her departure as DNC chair, Wasserman Schultz had said that she would open and close the convention and “address our delegates about the stakes involved in this election, not only for Democrats but for all Americans.”
She also said she would campaign for Hillary Clinton in the fall, whom she called “a friend I have always believed in and know will make a great president.”
The controversy over the emails generated an ugly scene at the Florida caucus meeting Monday morning, where Wasserman Schultz was heckled by Sanders supporters.
“So I can see there’s a little bit of interest in my being here, and I appreciate that interest,” she told the crowd as she struggled to be heard over the protestors.
When they would not stop, Wasserman Schultz finally fired back:
“We know that the voices in this room that are standing up and being disruptive — we know that that’s not the Florida that we know.”
Wasserman Schultz, who was Clinton’s campaign co-chair during her unsuccessful run for president in 2008, was appointed as head of the DNC in 2011 by President Obama.
Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, Sanders supporters complained that the DNC, under Wasserman Schultz’s direction, was showing favoritism toward Clinton in their intra-party tussle.
The internal emails, leaked by Wikileaks, added fuel to those complaints, with documents showing Wasserman Schultz questioning Sanders’ Democratic bona fides and criticizing some of his top campaign operatives.
The leaked emails also showed DNC officials — though not Wasserman Schultz — discussing whether to question Sanders about being an atheist.
Her contentious relationship with the Sanders campaign has spilled over in her race for re-election in Florida’s 23rd District, where she is being challenged in the Democratic primary by Sanders supporter Tim Canova, who has raised more than $2 million in an effort to unseat her.
The district takes in southern Broward County and Miami Beach.