PHILADELPHIA ― After a brutal week that culminated in her resignation as chair of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) appeared at an event here Thursday and was greeted with warm hugs instead of angry boos.
“This has been a difficult week, there’s no question about it,” the former DNC chair told well-wishers at a reception. “Sometimes, you just have to take one for the team.”
“The motto I still live by is one that was instilled in me by my parents: I might not convince somebody I was right, but you can be damn sure I’m never going to lose because I got outworked,” she added.
The reception, held at the Philadelphia Convention Center, a few miles from the Democratic National Convention, was hosted by Jews for Progress, a super PAC organized by the National Jewish Democratic Council. Wasserman Schultz accepted an award in honor of her work putting together the convention. She thanked those in attendance, including family, friends, supporters and former aides.
“I am taking off one hat, I will put back on another,” she said, telling supporters she intended to win her upcoming primary in Florida. (She will also serve as “honorary chair” for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, acting as a surrogate.)
Wasserman Schultz stepped down as party chair on Sunday after WikiLeaks posted emails showing that DNC staffers tried to obstruct Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) primary campaign against Clinton. She was initially scheduled to speak at the convention, but party officials eliminated her from the stage after angry Sanders supporters booed her at a rowdy Florida delegation breakfast on Monday. The uproar threatened to derail the convention before it even kicked off.
Wasserman Schultz supporters defended her in the face of the leaked emails, saying that she wasn’t to blame for the anti-Sanders sentiment DNC workers expressed and that stepping down was a noble move that put her party first.
“She’s a brave woman, isn’t she, for doing that,” said Alice Simon, who lives in Wasserman Schultz’s Florida congressional district. “Her staff did something. She’s a busy woman. It breaks my heart, to tell you the truth. She’s a woman of valor for doing so.”
Ann Adderley, a volunteer at the convention, empathized with Wasserman Schultz and described her as down but certainly not out.
“Tarnish can be erased,” Adderley said. “A little polish, and tarnish will go away over time. Not to say it’ll go away completely. She’s going to keep working. It’s not like she’ll go in a corner and hang her head. I think she’ll be fine.”
Steve Gustow, a former chair of the National Jewish Democratic Council who used to work with Wasserman Schultz, described her ouster as “unfortunate.” But he, too, said her final chapter was yet to be written.
“In politics, in many ways, it’s what you do last that defines you,” he said.