On Wednesday’s broadcast of CNN’s “John King USA,” former Clinton adviser and CNN contributor James Carville doubled down on criticism of Democrats who think that they will cruise to victory against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in November.
“No, I don’t,” Carville said. “Who in this world would be an incumbent — not just in the United States — an incumbent would feel any sense of confidence whatsoever? And Republicans are raising, as I pointed out, hundreds of millions of dollars. These super PACs — money is pouring into them and Democrats are saying, ‘We’re going to win this thing,’ and it just doesn’t make any sense.”
“Look, do I think in the end that we have a good chance to win? Yeah, we do,” he said, “But it’s going to be a brutally tough election and right now the attitude among Democrats that I detect from across the board is not anywhere near close to what it has to be.”
The consultant was expanding on an op-ed he penned for CNN.com on Wednesday, in which he wrote, “My message is simple: WTFU. Translated — wake the you-know-what up, there is an earthquake. You think that Democrats around the country are going to win — as I hear time and time again from people on the street.”
Carville offered some historic perspective and said that there seems to an “incumbent” mentality among Democrats, which could work to their detriment.
“I think what voters see sometimes is — the president ought to be careful about talking about making progress, because while there’s progress for some people, for a lot of people they’ve been hurting for a long time,” he said. “And I just think we gotta take more of an insurgent kind of mentality here — that there are things that the president’s trying to do and he’s fighting every day for the middle class, and this kind of thing. If you remember when Democrats lost badly in ’46 and [President Harry] Truman came back and ran against a Republican Congress and pulled a big upset and won the election in ’48. And I’m saying that we have too much (not just the president — I don’t want to single out the president here — but a lot of people) have too much of an incumbent mentality in this party, this sort of attitude that we’re going to win no matter what and they point to stuff like, ‘Well, the electoral map looks good for us,’ or you know, ‘Ohio looks good’ and that kind of stuff, and that’s not how elections are won. They’re won by going out there and getting on the offensive and staying there. And the combination of that and, plus, the sense that Romney is just a really weak, bad opponent is causing, I think, unwarranted optimism among Democrats.”
Carville said he realized that Romney is capable of making gaffes, and pointed to him taking credit for the U.S. automakers’ recoveries from the brink of collapse in 2009. But that, according to the CNN contributor, is no cause for complacency.
“I think, honestly, I think the Romney campaign, and I pointed it out here, I just think they’re bad. And I mean like today, this auto bailout thing — I thought that was an Onion headline when I first saw that,” he said. “I mean, I don’t know that the campaign comes up about this. I mean some of the things that Romney’s done are completely perplexing to anybody. But having said that you got to figure at some point he’ll get better or they’ll get better — not demonstrated by anything that happened today. I think sometimes when you’re an incumbent and you’ve been there, there’s a tendency to defend everything that’s happened. And I just think that, and it’s not just, I don’t want to single out the Obama campaign — all across I think among Democrats — is just a little too much comfort here. And what I’m trying to do, and you capitalized it just right, is I’m trying to create some discomfort here to say look, we’re a long way from having this thing in the bag. In fact, being tied in the polls is kind of bad right now, when they have more money and momentum is going against incumbents everywhere in the world.”