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James Carville has been saying that Joe Biden shouldn’t run | Local Politics


James Carville has been saying that Joe Biden shouldn’t run | Local Politics

James Carville is having a moment.

The famed Democratic strategist is turning up seemingly everywhere in the media following President Biden’s disastrous performance during last week’s nationwide televised debate.

Always quotable, Carville is in especially high demand now because for months he has been one of the few prominent Democrats willing to say publicly what many felt privately: 81-year-old Biden is too old to run for reelection this year. During the past year, Carville often seemed like a lone voice crying out into the wilderness.

Not anymore now that Biden is facing increasing calls to step aside for another Democrat.

“I’m getting more attention, more requests than ever before,” Carville said in an interview. “It was a lot before, and it’s a lot more now.”

After serving as the lead strategist for Bill Clinton’s successful run for the White House in 1992, Carville, dubbed the “Ragin’ Cajun,” became a cultural and political phenomenon, parlaying his fame into a career through TV appearances, paid speeches and best-selling books with his wife Mary Matalin, a Republican until recently. (He’s Cajun through his mother’s side, and grew up in rural Carville, Louisiana, in Iberville Parish, where he rode a horse before he learned to walk.)

Carville and Matalin moved to New Orleans in 2008, and he taught at Tulane and LSU.

Now Carville is in extraordinarily high demand again.

Just in the past week, he’s appeared or been quoted in The Washington Post, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, the Daily Caller, The Hill, the New York Post, Semafor, Axios, Huffington Post and The Guardian.

“If it’s too hard for the Democrats to deliver change, then they’re going to hurt themselves bad — really bad,” Carville told New Orleans journalist Jason Berry, who wrote The Guardian article. “Change is messy. But you have to listen to the vox populi. We want something new. I see staggering talent in the Democratic Party.”

‘I know what old age is’

Typically, Carville said, about two-thirds of the people who call out to him at airports or on the street say something favorable.

“They’re now 90% favorable,” Carville said. “People tell me, ‘For God’s sakes, please keep doing what you’re doing.’”

Carville praises Biden, saying he’s been a great president and deserves enormous credit for defeating Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

“But I know what old age is,” said Carville, who turns 80 in October. “I have trouble with my balance, and I forget s***. I also have a better idea than 99.999% of the public about what the job [of being president] entails. Being elderly and the presidency are not a good combo.”

Carville said he made a deliberate decision more than a year ago to go public with his worries about Biden. Many friends were unhappy with him.

“People would say, ‘James you can’t say this. We need a unified party. Joe is a good guy. It’s not beneficial.’ I’d say, ‘Everything you say is right, but he still is too f****** old.’”

David Axelrod, another celebrated Democratic strategist and a lead adviser to President Barack Obama, was also among the few prominent Democrats who publicly expressed concerns about Biden’s age.

“He has an unerring sense for how real people think,” Axelrod said of Carville. “He’s not a prisoner of the echo chamber in Washington. He doesn’t think in the idiom. He’s one of the seminal figures in American politics.”

An outspoken voice

Carville said he was in Aspen, Colorado, on the night of the Biden-Trump debate, speaking at the Ideas Festival there and talking about the election to big-dollar Democratic donors.

He said he returned to his hotel three minutes after the debate started. By then, text messages were flooding his cellphone.

“I thought my phone was going to break,” Carville said. “People were saying things like, ‘Oh my God, this is just a mess.’”

Carville didn’t bother to turn on the debate but did watch excerpts later.

Carville believes that the Democratic Party ought to throw open the presidential contest and allow the big-name contenders to appear at party-sanctioned debates and other events in the following weeks. The delegates at the Democratic National Convention, to be held in Chicago from Aug. 19-22, would choose the nominee.

Carville will spell out the specifics in an upcoming op-ed piece in The New York Times.

“One of the things that people constantly say is, ‘You can get away with saying s*** that no one else can,’” Carville said. “I think that’s probably right. I’m going to say stuff that no one else can. I don’t have the constraints that other people do. That’s a gift to get to at this point in life. What a gift.”

Note: This story has been updated to note that James Carville’s mother was Cajun, so he has Cajun lineage.

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