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Updated Aug 22, 2013 - 4:30 pm

Democrats gather in Scottsdale for 2-day meeting

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Democrats still savoring their 2012 presidential
victory kicked off a two-day meeting Thursday in this Republican stronghold to
map strategies to retake control of the House and statehouses around the nation.

Democratic National Committee delegates also were preparing to vote on a
measure demanding the resignation of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, a fellow
Democrat accused by more than a dozen women of sexual harassment.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, the DNC chair, said party members
will focus during their summer meeting on “expanding the map” of
Democratic-controlled states, just as they did in past election cycles with
Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Virginia.

“We’re in Arizona because it’s important for us to send a strong signal that
we’re not ceding any regions of the country,” she said. “We have opportunities
here in Arizona because the Republicans are so extreme, and are extreme on
issues that matter particularly to a demographic that has tremendous growth here
in Arizona, in Texas, in Georgia, and all across the country, and that’s the
Hispanic community.”

President Barack Obama handily won the women and minority vote in November. In
response, Republicans highlighted young Hispanics in the party during their
summer meeting last week in Boston.

That effort backfired, Wasserman Schultz said, when GOP delegates voted to
oppose comprehensive immigration reform now stalled in the House.

“On the one hand they say they want to reach out to groups of voters that they
lost big with in November of last year, like Latinos,” she said. “Yet they
pass a resolution on immigration and specifically leave out a path to
citizenship.”

Wasserman Schultz also highlighted the GOP’s repeated votes to repeal the
president’s health care reform law, saying the efforts amounted to threats to
shut down the government if the measures are not de-funded. Wasserman also cited
GOP efforts to pull funding from Planned Parenthood.

“They are about as extreme as it gets, and I think they’re just very unlikely
to have much electoral success as long as they continue to embrace the tea party
and their agenda,” she said.

The Democrats plan to use voter registration efforts to target GOP states that
might swing Democratic and to push Obama’s message of support for the middle
class, Baltimore Mayor and DNC secretary Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.

“We see that there’s a lot of growth opportunity for the party and we’re not
afraid to reach out into those states that aren’t our strongholds to build our
party,” she said.

A vote on the resolution involving the San Diego mayor is set for Friday.

“It’s unfortunate for Bob Filner, it’s unfortunate for the citizens of San
Diego, but what’s been most unfortunate is for the victims, the women that he
has sexually harassed,” Wasserman Schultz said. “His conduct was outrageous,
unacceptable.”

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