James Carville In Arkansas, Is Hillary Clinton Southern?

Aug 20, 2015

James Carville, political strategist and friend to Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Credit npr.org

A Clinton bid for the presidency brings up plenty of familiar feelings for Arkansans and an old voice is back in the state this week to help raise funds for Hillary Clinton. James Carville made stops in Little Rock and Rogers on Thursday.

KAUFFMAN: The Clinton campaign is, as it has been, the clear front runner in the Democratic Primary, in all but a few states at this point. Those leads are especially big in the South. In Arkansas, we sometimes debate how appropriate it is to call Hillary Clinton Southern. So, is she Southern? And why can’t a Clinton speak to the South in a general election anymore, like you could in ’92?

CARVILLE: Well, I mean, is somebody Southern? I don’t know, they’re Americans. She spent a large time of her life in Arkansas, which last time I looked is the South. People can interpret what they want but I know her and a lot of her heart is down here in this part of the world. She’s certainly spent enough time here to be a native and I think her husband is a pretty entrenched Arkansian [sic].”

KAUFFMAN: You’ve garnered some attention in the media lately, mostly for a pointed and kind of humorous attempt at downplaying speculation that Hillary Clinton may be in some trouble in the campaign because of Berne Sanders’s momentum, or because Vice President Joe Biden might enter the race, and also because of the situation involving Clinton’s e-mails as Secretary of State. What do you see as your role on the campaign and in these media appearances?

CARVILLE: I am an old, kind of a friend. I live in New Orleans now and am a college professor but when I see people making ridiculous statements then I’ll come out and call them out on it. What happened was some gentleman in the Washington Post said there was a full scale freak out in the Democratic Party, where there is no such thing. Running for president has been, is, and always will be a difficult undertaking. I think she’s going to be fine but we’ve got a lot of work to do. That’s why I’m here, earlier in Rogers, Arkansas helping raise some money for her. I’m on my way down to Little Rock. Tomorrow I’ll be in Memphis and Columbia, South Carolina because I know, and I’ve been around this, it’s a long haul deal here.

KAUFFMAN: When you worked with Bill Clinton’s first campaign it was an outsider candidacy. You must have been cursing some of the establishment advantages back then. You’ve certainly not been an outsider for a number of years now, especially with Hillary Clinton’s campaign – establishment for sure. What is that like? Have you thought about how different things are around this time?

CARVILLE: It’s been 24 years between 1992 and 2016 and the country changes and she’s an entirely different candidate than President Clinton was. The world changes and that’s just the way politics is and the way the United States is.

KAUFFMAN: James Carville, from our neighboring state to the south Louisiana, thanks for your time.

CARVILLE: I’m looking forward to November 14 when the Razorbacks will be in Tiger Stadium.