Friday on MSNBC’s “MTP Daily,” former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Ryback, , a Democratic National Committee vice chairman, backed up Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), who had claimed it was not true that DNC chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) consulted her vice chairs before decided to limit the Democratic primary debates to six, as she claimed several times this week.
Ryback said “This is part of a long pattern. For context, this has played out as Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Tulsi Gabbard, but it’s really about Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her successor. We have to elect a president. The job of the DNC is to bring this tent together and I think the current chair, I’ve seen unfortunately over many months, seems to be unable to bring this big tent together. And a lot of us have spent a lot of time trying to coach her through that, a lot going on behind the scenes. Frankly, I felt it was important to play this out now, so that we can do what we can to hold that tent together, reach out to all parts, so we don’t have this blowup before the convention when we’re trying to get people together or before the election.”
He continued, “The current discussion is about debates, no question about it. There’s a policy difference. The chair feels we should have six. Several other of us feel we should have more debates. Much of the party feels we should have more debates. What I think what a chair should do is to hear that and if she feels strongly that she has the right position, then open up the process. Tell people why, explain that. But don’t tell people that you already have people like me and Tulsi Gabbard signed on, which you don’t. Don’t call Tulsi Gabbard and I, people telling untruths. The fact of the matter, what we have to do is bring people together. I’ve been in different campaigns, the Bradley campaign, the Dean campaign, the Obama campaign. When you have campaigns that start off as insurgent campaigns, you get a sense that everybody’s against you, almost a paranoia, and it’s essential for the central party to say, hey, look, it’s all going to be fair and equal. We did that when the party met in Minneapolis and all the candidates got the same amount of time. And frankly, I don’t believe the conspiracy theory that this is something about Hillary Clinton.”
“I think the chair and I have straight-up policy disagreement. I could be wrong, but I don’t think so. I think, however, the way she arrived at it was to simply make the statement, ignore those of us who gave her good advice behind the scenes about how to bring people together, how to communicate that, how to try to give a little bit of ground, to people who feel differently than her, and she has, I think, fairly recklessly ignored that advice and thrown a lot of gasoline on the fire,” he added.
When asked of he thinks Wasserman Schultz should stay chair of the party Ryback said, “I have serious questions, and it’s not just about the debate. The fact of the matter is, sometime in the month or two before the convention, somebody’s going to win or lose. It’s going to be essential for the leader of the party to be able to say to everyone, look, it’s been fair, we need you now, let’s all pull together. That’s what Democrats want. The only thing that will mess right now is in the position to be that peace maker who builds that big tent for all of us.”
“The only reason I went public on this was after the chair went on television and repeated a knowing untruth about Tulsi Gabbard, one of our fellow co-chairs, a congresswoman from Hawaii,” Ryback concluded. “I’m not going to stand by and watch that.”
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