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James Carville
Born Chester James Carville Jr.
October 25, 1944(1944-10-25) (age 78)
Carville, Louisiana, U.S.
Residence New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
Alma mater Louisiana State University,
Baton Rouge (BA, JD)
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Mary Matalin (m. 1993)
Children 2
Official website

Chester James Carville Jr. (born October 25, 1944) is an American political commentator and media personality who is a prominent figure in the Democratic Party. Carville gained national attention for his work as the lead strategist of the successful presidential campaign of then-Arkansas governor Bill Clinton.[1] Carville was a co-host of CNN's Crossfire until its final broadcast in June 2005. Since its cancellation, he has appeared on CNN's news program The Situation Room. As of 2009, he hosts a weekly program on XM Radio titled 60/20 Sports with Luke Russert, son of Tim Russert who hosted NBC's Meet The Press. He is married to Libertarian political consultant Mary Matalin. In 2009, he began teaching political science at Tulane University.[2]

In 2014, Carville joined Fox News Channel as a contributor.[3]

Early life and career

Carville, the oldest of eight children, was born on October 25, 1944 in Carville, Louisiana,[4] the son of Lucille (née Normand), a former school teacher who sold World Book Encyclopedia door-to-door, and Chester James Carville, a postmaster as well as owner of a general store.[5][6][7] The town of Carville was named after his paternal grandfather, Louis Arthur Carville, the postmaster.[8] Carville attended Ascension Catholic High School in Donaldsonville, Louisiana.[6] Louis Arthur's mother, Octavia Dehon was of Belgian parentage and had married John Madison Carville, described in a biography as "Irish-born" and a "carpetbagger",[9] both of whom established the general store operated by the family in Carville in 1882. He was born in Ireland in 1847 and his father, Alexander Carville, in 1810.[10]

He received his undergraduate and Juris Doctor degrees from Louisiana State University (LSU). During his undergraduate years at LSU, Carville was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity.[11]

Carville spent two years serving in the United States Marine Corps, achieving the rank of Corporal,[12][13] and later worked as a high school teacher. Before entering politics, Carville worked as a litigator at a Baton Rouge law firm from 1973 to 1979.

Political career

Early political career

Carville was trained in consulting by Gus Weill, who in 1958 had opened the first advertising firm which specialized in political campaigns in the state capital in Baton Rouge.[14]

Prior to the Clinton campaign, Carville and consulting partner Paul Begala gained other well-known political victories, including the gubernatorial triumphs of Robert Casey of Pennsylvania in 1986, and Zell Miller of Georgia in 1990, and Brereton Jones of Kentucky in 1991. But it was in 1991 when Carville and Begala rose to national attention, leading appointed incumbent Senator Harris Wofford of Pennsylvania back from a 40-point poll deficit over White House hand-picked candidate Dick Thornburgh. It was during Wofford's campaign that the "it's the economy, stupid" strategy used by Bill Clinton in 1992 was first implemented.

Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign

In 1992, Carville helped lead Bill Clinton to a win against George H. W. Bush in the presidential election. In 1993, Carville was honored as Campaign District Manager of the Year by the American Association of Political Consultants. His role in the Clinton campaign was documented in the feature-length Academy Award-nominated film The War Room.

One of the formulations he used in that campaign has entered common usage, derived from a list he posted in the war room to help focus himself and his staff, with these three points:

  1. Change vs. more of the same.
  2. The economy, stupid.
  3. Don't forget health care.[15]

Political and media work

After 1992 Carville stopped working on domestic campaigns, stating that he would bring unneeded publicity. He then worked on a number of foreign campaigns, including those of Tony Blair – then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom – during the 2001 general election; Ehud Barak of Israel's Labor Party (at the suggestion of Clinton, who had grown frustrated with Benjamin Netanyahu's intransigence in the peace process) in the 1999 Knesset election; and the Liberal Party of Canada. In 2002, Carville helped Bolivian Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada win the presidency in Bolivia, while working as a Greenberg Carville Shrum (GCS) strategist. This was portrayed in the documentary Our Brand Is Crisis.

In 2004, he was brought in for last-minute consulting on John Kerry's presidential campaign, but he did not play a major role.

In 2005, Carville taught a semester of the course "Topics in American Politics" at Northern Virginia Community College. Among the guests he had come speak to the class were Al Hunt, Mark Halperin, Senator George Allen, George Stephanopoulos, Karl Strubel, Stan Greenberg, Tony Blankley, representatives from the Motion Picture Association of America, and James Fallows.

In 2006, Carville switched gears from politics to sports and became a host on a sports show called 60/20 Sports on XM Satellite Radio with Luke Russert, son of NBC journalist Tim Russert. The show is an in-depth look at the culture of sports based on the ages of the two hosts (60 and 20).

After the Democrats' victory in the 2006 midterm election, Carville criticized Howard Dean as Democratic National Committee Chair, calling for his ouster, as he believed Dean had not spent enough money. In late November 2006, Carville proposed a truce of sorts.[16]

Carville is the executive producer of the 2006 film All the King's Men, starring Sean Penn and Anthony Hopkins, which is loosely based on the life of Louisiana Governor Huey Long.

Carville had believed that Al Gore, whom he helped put in the White House as vice president in 1992, would run for president in 2008.[17] This prediction did not come true.

On March 4, 2009, Politico reported that Carville, Paul Begala, and Rahm Emanuel were the architects of the Democratic Party's strategy to cast conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh as the face of the Republican Party.[18] Carville was particularly critical of Limbaugh for saying he wanted Barack Obama to "fail".

Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani hired Carville as a campaign advisor in July 2009. Carville said that the 2009 Afghan presidential election is "probably the most important election held in the world in a long time," and he called his new job "probably the most interesting project I have ever worked in my life."[19] Carville, who works for Ghani pro bono, when asked about similarities between politics in Afghanistan and politics in Louisiana, responded: "Yeah, I felt a little bit at home, to be honest with you."[20]

In 2010, Carville worked as senior advisor for the campaign of Colombian presidential candidate Juan Manuel Santos.[21]

He is acting as advisor for Daniel Scioli (Governor of Buenos Aires) re-election campaign.

He is a regular contributor with Stan Greenberg to the weekly Carville-Greenberg Memo at The National Memo.

Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential primary campaign

As an advisor to Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign, Carville told The New York Times on March 22, 2008, that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who had just endorsed Senator Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination, was comparable to Judas Iscariot. It was "an act of betrayal," said Carville. "Mr. Richardson’s endorsement came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver, so I think the timing is appropriate, if ironic,” Mr. Carville said, referring to Holy Week. Governor Richardson had served in President Bill Clinton's administration as both United States Ambassador to the United Nations and Secretary of Energy, and Carville believed that Richardson owed an endorsement to Senator Clinton in exchange for being offered those posts by her husband. Carville also claimed that Richardson assured many in the Clinton campaign that he would at least remain neutral and abstain from taking sides.[22] Richardson denied Carville's account, arguing that he had not made any promises to remain neutral. Richardson claims that his decision to endorse Obama was "clinched" by his speech on race relations following the swirl of controversy surrounding Obama's former pastor Jeremiah Wright.[23] Carville went on to note,"I doubt if Governor Richardson and I will be terribly close in the future," Carville said,[24] but "I've had my say...I got one in the wheelhouse and I tagged it."

Even as Clinton's campaign began to lose steam, Carville remained both loyal and positive in his public positions, rarely veering off message and stoutly defending the candidate. But on May 13, 2008, a few hours before the primary in West Virginia, Carville remarked to an audience at Furman University in South Carolina, "I'm for Senator Clinton, but I think the great likelihood is that Obama will be the nominee."[25] The moment marked a shift from his previous and often determinedly optimistic comments about the state of Clinton's campaign.

After Barack Obama's clear lead for victory in the Democratic presidential campaign on June 3, James Carville said he was ready to open up his wallet to help Obama build a political war chest to take on John McCain in November.[26]

Personal life

Carville is married to Republican-turned-Libertarian political consultant Mary Matalin, who had worked for George H. W. Bush on his 1992 presidential reelection campaign. Carville and Matalin were married in New Orleans in October 1993. They have two daughters: Matalin Mary "Matty" Carville and Emerson Normand "Emma" Carville.

In 2008, Carville and Matalin relocated their family from Virginia to New Orleans.[27] He is currently a professor of practice in political science at Tulane University.[28]



  • All's Fair: Love, War and Running for President (1995), with Mary Matalin and Peter Knobler
  • We're Right, They're Wrong: A Handbook for Spirited Progressives (1996)
  • ...And The Horse He Rode In On: The People vs. Kenneth Starr (1998)
  • Stickin: The Case for Loyalty (2000) with Paul Begala
  • Suck Up, Buck Up... and Come Back When You Foul Up (2001)
  • Had Enough? (2004)
  • Take It Back: Our Party, Our Country, Our Future (2006) with Paul Begala
  • 40 More Years: How the Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation (2009)
  • It’s the Middle Class, Stupid! (2012) with Stan Greenberg
  • Love & War: Twenty Years, Three Presidents, Two Daughters and One Louisiana Home, (2014) with Mary Matalin
  • We're Still Right, They're Still Wrong: The Democrats' Case for 2016, (2016)

Children's Fiction

  • Lu and the Swamp Ghost (2004) with co-author Patricia McKissack and illustrator David Catrow

Film and television appearances

Carville and Keith Ellison in 2007

  • Carville takes a lead role in The War Room, a documentary about Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign, together with George Stephanopoulos.
  • He appeared in the 1996 film The People vs. Larry Flynt as attorney Simon Leis.[29]
  • He appeared in three episodes of the sitcom Mad About You playing himself, as head of a political consulting firm that hires Jamie Buchman, played by Helen Hunt.
  • He has a guest role on the sitcom Spin City, where he is interviewed for a job as campaign manager.
  • In the films Old School and Wedding Crashers, Carville makes cameo appearances as himself.
  • He appeared as himself in Our Brand Is Crisis, a documentary about the Bolivian presidential election.
  • Carville appears as the Governor of Missouri, Thomas Crittenden, in the 2007 movie The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
  • He appeared as himself in NBC's comedy 30 Rock, season 2 episode 8 "Secrets and Lies".
  • He appeared in cartoon form in the Family Guy episode "Running Mates."
  • He starred in Steven Soderbergh's HBO series K Street along with his wife.
  • Carville is a regular guest on The Tony Kornheiser Show where he picks both NFL and college football games against the USA Today spreads.
  • He voiced Judge Roland McFarlane in the King of the Hill episode "Jumpin' Crack Bass".
  • He made a cameo appearance in The Muppets.
  • He made a notable appearance on Good Morning America to condemn Barack Obama's response to the oil spill where he claimed that 'We're About to Die Down Here!'[30]
  • Beginning in 2012, Carville and Matalin appeared in "Cocktail Party" commercials for Maker's Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon.
  • Carville appears as himself in the film G.I. Joe: Retaliation, introducing the President at a fundraising event.
  • He was portrayed on Saturday Night Live, mostly by Bill Hader.[31]
  • He and his wife perform the epilogue to Hayes Carll's political comedy song "Another Like You"[32]


  1. "David Axelrod calls Newt Gingrich 'the godfather of gridlock'". PolitiFact. Retrieved 2012-09-05. 
  2. Hobgood, Kathryn (2008-11-18). "Political Pundit Joins Faculty". New Orleans, LA: Tulane University. Archived from the original on 2010-06-07. Retrieved 2009-01-29. 
  3. "James Carville joining Fox News as contributor". New York, NY: FOX News Network, LLC. 2014-02-06. Retrieved 2014-06-14. 
  4. "CNN TV – Anchors/Reporters:James Carville". 
  5. The Columnists Archived 2006-01-28 at the Wayback Machine.. Salon.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Carville, James; Mary Matalin (2007-03-27). "CEA Washington Forum" (.doc). Washington, D.C.: Consumer Electronics Association. Archived from the original on 2008-02-29. Retrieved 2008-04-01. 
  7. "James Carville has returned to Louisiana, living and teaching in New Orleans". News Library. May 17, 2009. Retrieved 5 September 2012. 
  8. Carville: Remembering Leprosy In America – Marcia G. Gaudet – Google Books. Retrieved 2012-09-05. 
  10. "Descendants of Alexander Carvi -". Retrieved 24 January 2017. 
  11. Gumbo. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University. 1963. pp. 236–7. 
  12. "10 People You Didn't Know Were U.S. Marines | U.S. Naval Institute". Retrieved 2012-09-05. 
  13. "CNN Political Ticker: All politics, all the time Blog Archive - Carville bumps into BP CEO « - Blogs from". 2010-06-02. Retrieved 2010-07-04. 
  14. "About Gus Weill". Retrieved August 21, 2012. 
  15. THE 1992 CAMPAIGN: The Democrats – Clinton and Bush Compete to Be Champion of Change; Democrat Fights Perceptions of Bush Gain; Oct. 31, 1992, New York Times [1]
  16. Hotline On Call: Carville's Truce? Archived 2006-12-28 at the Wayback Machine. The Hotline. National Journal Group. 2006-11-30.
  17. James Carville: Al Gore Will Run in 2008. 2007-02-27.
  18. Martin, Jonathan (March 4, 2009). "Rush Job: Inside Dems' Limbaugh Plan". Politico. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  19. "U.S. strategist helps rival of Afghan president". 2009-07-08. Retrieved 2009-07-14. [dead link] Cf. "Carville to Advise Karzai Challenger in Afghan Election Contest". Bloomberg. 2009-07-06. Retrieved 2009-07-14. 
  20. Bruce Eggler & Michelle Krupa, "Carville finds familiar politics in Afghanistan" (section titled "Going native") in Times-Picayune, 2009 August 1, Saint Tammany Edition, p. B3.
  21. "Juan Manuel Santos' campaign is running at full speed, La Silla Vacía (Colombian Political Website in Spanish)".
  22. Adam Nagourney and Jeff Zeleny, "First a Tense Talk With Clinton, Then Richardson Backs Obama", The New York Times, March 22, 2008.
  23. "Richardson: Obama's speech was decisive". CNN. 2008-03-22. Retrieved 2010-05-05. 
  24. Sinderbrand, Rebecca (2008-03-25). "Carville: Controversial Judas comment 'had the desired effect'". CNN Political Ticker. Retrieved 2008-04-01. 
  25. "Carville: Obama likely to win nomination". CNN. 2008-05-13. Retrieved 2010-05-05. 
  26. "Obama for America". Retrieved 2010-07-04. 
  27. Argetsinger, Amy; Roxanne Roberts (2008-03-27). "His Family Is Following the Ragin' Cajun Home". The Reliable Source. The Washington Post. pp. C03. Retrieved 2008-04-01. 
  28. "People". Retrieved 24 January 2017. 
  29. "The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)". International Movie Database (IMDb). Retrieved 5 September 2012. 
  30. "James Carville Slams Obama on Oil Spill: 'We're About to Die Down Here!' Stephanopoulos spins". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-09-05. 
  31. "Snl James Carville". Retrieved 24 January 2017. 
  32. "Hayes Carll - Another Like You ft. Cary Ann Hearst". YouTube. Retrieved 2015-04-27. 

Further reading

External links

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