Democratic strategist James Carville isn’t one to hold his tongue, and in an interview with The Hill this week, he wasn’t shy about offering his uncensored options on former President Trump and No Labels, the group flirting with backing a third-party candidate.
The longtime political adviser to Bill Clinton known for his folksy tone, was unabashedly critical of the No Labels effort, criticizing the group for not being open about its donors.
A number of Democrats fear the effort could cost President Biden the White House if he and Trump are the major party nominees.
Carville was salty with his thoughts.
“No Labels is my favorite,” he said. “They won’t tell you where their money comes from; they say they’re funded by undisclosed corporate dark money. And they won’t take a position on anything.
“But yet they’re offering the American people something new and fresh,” Carville added. “That’s a good line of f—ing bullshit there.”
Carville dismissed the idea that anyone other than Trump is likely to emerge from a GOP primary, arguing the Republican electorate seems to “hate” anyone opposed to Trump.
The former president’s legal fights and personal health are the only things that might stop him from winning the nomination, Carville said.
“First of all, I don’t know how much longer he can live at this rate and this kind of stress,” Carville said.
“If something happened, he’s convicted — I don’t know what — I think they hate everybody in the field, and everybody that’s run against him, in their mind, is aiding and abetting the enemy.”
The Democratic strategist offered some compliments for biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, the upstart GOP candidate he suggested was running a smart race.
“The only one with a kind of a halfway smart message is Ramaswamy,” said Carville, who added that it was “actually more appealing” than Trump’s message.
“And his message is kind of, look if something happens to Trump, I’m here for you,” he said.
He noted Ramaswamy has said he would pardon Trump and has condemned the indictments against the former president. All the other candidates, Carville said, have crossed Trump just by running for the office.
Carville was relatively dismissive of Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who has recently won some media and GOP donor attention.
“I love the Tim Scott boom. But it’s free parking,” Carville said. “And every time I get one of these kind of Republicans that you can tell don’t like Trump, they might be interested in Tim Scott. He’s got a good way about him … OK fine. He’s never passed a bill and believes in celibacy. I don’t think that’s the way most people are. But what do I know?”
Perhaps not surprisingly, Carville has a rosier outlook for the future of his party.
At a time when some Democrats have expressed frustration in polls that Biden, who is 80, will be the party’s nominee in 2024, Carville argued the party has a deep and healthy bench of future candidates for 2028.
“So many people, it’s breathtaking. The level of talent in the Democratic party in 2023 is — and I say this with great conference — is as high as any political party has ever had in my lifetime, which is 1944,” Carville said.
He rattled off a series of names, mentioning many Democratic governors and one Biden administration official, infrastructure czar Mitch Landrieu — a fellow “Ragin’ Cajun.”
“You find me somebody more talented than a [Pennsylvania Gov.] Josh Shapiro or [Georgia Sen. Raphael] Warnock or [Maryland Gov.] Wes Moore or [Kentucky Gov.] Andy Beshear or [Michigan Gov.] Gretchen Whitmer, Mitch Landrieu, [North Carolina Gov.] Roy Copper, I ain’t seen them,” Carville said. “These are some staggeringly talented politicians. If they ever got out in the open and people saw them, holy moly.”
“The greatest myth in American politics is — I hear this all the time — well James, we don’t have any bench. Are you shitting me? We got a bench that’s 100. The whole sideline is our bench,” he added.
He also mentioned Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly, and Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego. But he particularly gushed over Shapiro, Whitmer and Beshear.
“I said this after the 2022 [midterms], Josh Shapiro might have run one of the most impressive statewide campaign I’ve ever seen,” he said.
“And they opened the f— interstate in three weeks,” he said, referring to the stretch of Interstate 95 in Philadelphia that collapsed, shut down, and reopened in June.
“Whitmer just — I’ve seen her in a room — I’m sitting there and she says, ‘James, it’s Gretchen Whitmer.’ It makes you heart flutter a little bit. She’s got presence.”
“F—ing Andy Beshear, oh my God. He just gets better,” he said. “The Democratic bench is really long.”
Carville acknowledged the map for Democrats in defending the Senate next year is difficult and that Biden’s dismal approval rating isn’t helping. But he also expressed confidence given how Democrats did in 2022.
“We have a very vulnerable, exceedingly vulnerable Senate map,” he said of Democrats. “But if we are August of 2024, with a 41.4 percent approving rating and a 69 percent wrong track, it’s going to be hairy.”
Democrats experienced better-than-expected midterm results, and Carville was confident for 2024 considering his party’s performance in local races since then, mentioning the mayor races in Jacksonville, Fla., and Colorado Spring, Colo., where a Democrat and independent, respectively, defeated Republicans.
“President’s approval rating is historically not very good. The direction of the country is historically bad. Image of the party is not much,” he said. “But we don’t lose elections. We just don’t.”