Not good enough: Carville calls for Dean’s ouster at DNC

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Eric Pfeif­fer

Demo­cratic strate­gist James Carville on Nov. 15 said Howard Dean should be re­placed as chair­man of the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee for fail­ing to pur­sue a greater mar­gin of vic­tory in the Nov. 7 midterm elec­tions.

“I would de­scribe his lead­er­ship as Rums­fel­dian in its com­pe­tence,” Mr. Carville said dur­ing a meet­ing with re­porters, a ref­er­ence to out­go­ing De­fense Sec­re­tary Don­ald H. Rums­feld, who has been re­viled by Democrats.

Both Mr. Carville and Demo­cratic strate­gist Stan Green­berg said theDNCshould­havein­vest­ed­more money in con­gres­sional races.

“There were 14 seats where a one-point dif­fer­ence could have flipped the seat,” Mr. Green­berg said.

Mr. Dean has said he has no in­ten­tion of step­ping down since Democrats won con­trol of both the House and Se­nate — by pick­ing up 29 and six seats, re­spec­tively — dis­re­gard­ing sim­i­lar crit­i­cism lev­eled ear­lier by Mr. Carville.

“This is some kind of inside the Belt­way silli­ness,” Mr. Dean told Chris Wal­lace on “Fox News Sun­day.”

Mr. Dean also said out­go­ing Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr., Ten­nessee Demo­crat, who Mr. Carville says should run the DNC, told Mr. Dean he is not in­ter­ested.

Through­out the Nov. 15 meet­ing, Mr. Carville re­peat­edly com­pared the Democrats’ vic­tory to the fa­mous Civil War bat­tle at Get­tys­burg, where the Union Army won but de­cided against pur­su­ing a re­treat­ing Con­fed­er­ate Army.

“We should have chased them down,” he said.

Mr. Carville says he asked for a meet­ing with Mr. Dean sev­eral weeks be­fore the elec­tion to dis­cuss spend­ing ad­di­tional funds on com­pet­i­tive House races held by Repub­li­can in­cum­bents. A meet­ing was not granted, but the DNC said it had taken out a $10 mil­lion line of credit.

“They left $4 mil­lion on the ta­ble,” Mr. Carville said.

Mr. Carville said he has “no prob­lem” with Mr. Dean’s so- called “50-state strat­egy,” which places money and field op­er­a­tives in states where Democrats do not al­ready have a strong pres­ence. But he said more short-term pri­or­i­ties should take prece­dence lead­ing up to the elec­tion.

“The point of a po­lit­i­cal party is not to hire peo­ple, it’s to elect peo­ple,” he said.

De­spite his crit­i­cism, Mr. Carville said he was still pleased with the elec­tion re­sults.

“Let’s not di­min­ish what hap­pened here,” he said. Asked why he was air­ing his feel­ings pub­licly, Mr. Carville said, “I think things need to be pointed out.”

Look­ing be­yond 2006, both Mr. Carville and Mr. Green­berg said Democrats should fo­cus on en­ergy in­de­pen­dence as their sig­na­ture is­sue, com­pa­ra­ble to how Repub­li­cans have fo­cused on tax cuts.

“Peo­ple don’t trust the private sec­tor on this,” Mr. Green­berg said.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr. Green­berg, the Iraq war was the main rea­son Repub­li­cans fell out of fa­vor with vot­ers this year. In ad­di­tion, he said White House ad­viser Karl Rove was too fo­cused on the con­ser­va­tive base, which came at the ex­pense of in­de­pen­dent vot­ers, who went for Democrats by a nearly 2-1 mar­gin.

“I be­lieve those kind of con­clu­sions lead to bad judg­ment,” he said.

Both men were asked their as­sess­ment of po­ten­tial 2008 pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates. Nei­ther would state their pref­er­ence, al­though Mr. Carville joked.

“I’m pre­dict­ing it won’t be a Kerry [ver­sus] Allen race,” in ref­er­ence to Sen. John Kerry, Mas­sachusetts Demo­crat, and re­cently de­feated Sen. Ge­orge Allen, Vir­ginia Repub­li­can.

Bloomberg News

What, me worry? Howard Dean, right, chair­man of the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee and New Mex­ico Gov­er­nor Bill Richard­son, chair of the Demo­cratic Gov­er­nors As­so­ci­a­tion, spoke to the me­dia about the party's agenda and strat­egy fol­low­ing the midterm elec­tions, ear­lier this month in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

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