Wasserman Schultz backtracks from remarks

Official portrait of U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (MGN Online/Debbie Wasserman Schultz)

FOND DU LAC - The leader of the national Democratic party is taking back some of the words she used at an event Wednesday in Milwaukee.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat from Florida and the chairwoman of the Democratic Naitonal Committee, has come under fire for using language tied to domestic violence.

"Scott Walker has given women the back of his hand," said Wasserman Schultz.

She was talking about Gov. Scott Walker's 2012 decision to repeal the state's Equal Pay Act. It's now more difficult to sue employers for pay discrimination. At the time, Walker said lawyers were using the act to clog up the legal system.

The governor and his Democratic opponent also responded to the comments Thursday.

At a campaign event in Fond du Lac, Gov. Walker said Wasserman Schultz’s comments were “outrageous.”

“I’ve worked enough over the years both as county executive and now as governor with people who have been advocates for helping victims of domestic violence, and to use that kind of language, just completely un-appropriate," said Walker.

Wasserman Schultz was in Milwaukee Wednesday for a round-table discussion on women's issues.

"Scott Walker has given women the back of his hand," she said. "I know that is stark, I know that is direct. But that is reality. When you have women earning 78 cents in Wisconsin to every man's dollar and a Governor, who has actually signed a law that repealed that enforcement mechanism, that is just un-acceptable."

Wasserman Schultz made other comments that also got some attention.

"What Republican Tea Party extremists like Scott Walker are doing is they're grabbing us by the hair," she said.

Wasserman Schultz responded to the criticism in a statement sent to FOX 11 Thursday.

"I shouldn’t have used the words I used," she wrote. "But that shouldn't detract from the broader point that I was making that Scott Walker’s policies have been bad for Wisconsin women."

The comments are now part of the race for Wisconsin governor. Gov. Walker and his campaign called on Democrat Mary Burke to publicly condemn what Wasserman Schultz said.

FOX 11 asked Walker why he said Burke must respond to the comments.

“'Cause the DNC chair was there on behalf of her and the candidate for attorney general," responded Walker. "I mean, it wasn’t just somebody random, like I’m asking her to respond to somebody unrelated to her."

While in Wausau Thursday, reporters asked Burke if she would describe Walker's policies in the same way as Wasserman Schultz.

“No, no, it’s not the language I would use, no," said Burke.

“Do you have any other thoughts on that comment?” asked a Wausau reporter.

“No, I think that as I said, it’s not the language I would use, and I don’t think it’s appropriate," responded Burke.

Meanwhile, Walker said his policies that affect women are fair. He gave an example from his current budget which included $11 million for new domestic violence shelters in Milwaukee and Madison.

The race between Walker and Burke will be decided Nov. 4, exactly two months from Thursday.