NEW BRUNSWICK -- The leader of the free world she's not. But in some ways, Debbie Wasserman Schultz fits the ethos of the Barbara Buono gubernatorial campaign better than Barack Obama.
Buono, the Democratic challenger to Gov. Christie, is outspent in campaign funds and outnumbered in the polls. National Democrats are giving her no chance against the governor, and have offered her little in the way of money. Obama is not expected to campaign for someone perceived as losing, badly.
So in lieu of the president himself, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla,), stopped by the Buono campaign headquarters for a rally this afternoon. This was highest profile Democrat to visit Buono so far.
Wasserman Schultz sought to link herself to the Buono campaign by framing herself as an underdog in a man's world. Buono and her running mate, Milly Silva, are just the third all-female gubernatorial ticket in U.S. history, and Wasserman Schultz said she came to Jersey to "add a little more girl power."
This played perfectly into Buono's recent push to highlight her difficulties as a female state legislator. "As a woman in New Jersey politics, I'm used to being underestimated," she said. "But I'm tough and I'm dogged and I never give up."
Buono talked about being the first female senate budget chairperson and the first female majority leader. "People have always underestimated me, and I know this is a bigger mountain to climb, but we're going to do it on Nov. 5," she said.
Buono declared: "I am the American dream. I am the little guy."
She told several dozen supporters that when they call voters to convince them to vote for Buono, they may hear voters say that Christie is likable. "Don't confuse being likable with being on your side." she said. His social policies, Buono said, are "on par with Sarah Palin and the Iowa Republican caucus."
Wasserman Schultz said the reason why Christie has taken conservative positions is because "he's clearly planning to run for president -- he's marking his time here before he can kick off his campaign."
Wasserman Schultz wore a button depicting Buono's name, red high heels and the words: "Pump out the vote."
Pressed by reporters, Wasserman Schultz refused to commit more DNC funds for Buono's struggling campaign.