DNC Chairman Perez on Stepping Down After Iowa Caucuses: ‘Absolutely Not’

Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he would “absolutely not” step down following the confusion and delay in getting the results of the Iowa caucuses.

Partial transcript as follows:

TAPPER: Well, that’s the thing. Is Iowa about to lose their first-in-the-nation caucus status? I mean, it’s not difficult to imagine South Carolina, New Hampshire, other states that are out of the process, Illinois, for example, the governor there is making a big pitch saying, Iowa, you lost your chance. You screwed up. It’s time for another state to take over. Is that possibly going to happen?

PEREZ: Well, that’s the conversation that will absolutely happen after this election cycle. And after the last election cycle, we had a conversation about two really important things, super delegate reform, and the primary caucus issue that we’re discussing now. And that’s going to happen again, I have no doubt about it, because it’s very necessary.

TAPPER: How much responsibility do you take for what happened? I understand the Iowa Democratic Party did what they did, but the DNC plays a role. Do you take any responsibility?

PEREZ: Yes, the Iowa Democratic Party runs the actual election. Our partnership with our state parties — any time something goes wrong, whether it’s something that’s run by the state party or not, we’re all in this together. So, that’s why we had a team of people. I’m really proud of our team.

TAPPER: I mean, the DNC approved the plan.

PEREZ: Well, the DNC did a number of things in connection with the plan. They wanted to do a virtual caucus, Jake, where people could actually vote where it’s going to be over the telephone. And we said no, because we had cybersecurity concerns. The now infamous app, they actually used an app in 2016 to conduct the tallies. They weren’t voting with it, but they used an app in 2016. And they did their own RFP to select a vendor. And the question we asked was, have you pressure-tested it? Have you pressure-tested it? And, clearly…

TAPPER: What did they tell you?

PEREZ: They gave us assurances that it was going to work. It didn’t work.

TAPPER: But had they pressure-tested it?

PEREZ: Well, with hindsight, not early enough.

TAPPER: You know this, that some Democrats are calling for your resignation. Former Congressional Black Caucus Chair Congresswoman Marcia Fudge said, ‘We’re a party in chaos.’ Congresswoman Ilhan Omar said: ‘Tom Perez should be held accountable for this failure.’ Have you considered resigning?

PEREZ: Absolutely not. Jake, look at the last three years. My job, when I came in, was to rebuild our infrastructure, to win elections. And, when you do that, sometimes, you got to make tough decisions. Our super delegate reform — I have great respect for Congresswoman Fudge. She doesn’t support it. I get that. And I respect that, but I categorically disagree with her on this. We have been winning. This is what it’s about. I think it’s really important for people to take a broader step back right now. This is the most unsettling phase of the cycle. In 1991, George Herbert Walker Bush’s approval ratings were sky-high. People were saying, there’s nobody in the Democratic Party field who can win. And there was a lot of understandable angst. We’re in a similar position now, in the sense that I don’t know who the nominee is going to be.

TAPPER: Yes.

PEREZ: We’re barely out of the starting gate. And the angst is elevated because we have the most dangerous president in American history. But here’s the good news. We have been winning elections in 2017, 2018, 2019.

TAPPER: Right.

PEREZ: We are better positioned to hand our nominee an infrastructure for success than ever before.

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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