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Political opposites take stage
Matalin, Carville talk marriage, politics at GSU
092210 MATALIN CARVILLE 01 web
Mary Matalin expounds on her daughter's occasional opinion of daddy James Carville, background left, during Wednesday's appearance at Georgia Southern University's Hanner Fieldhouse. The political power couple spoke about politics and government and took selected questions from the audience. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

A large crowd at Georgia Southern University's Hanner Fieldhouse Wednesday night got a few laughs out of two polar political opposites who just happen to be married. James Carville and Mary Matalin, two renowned political commentators, both visited GSU to share insight on today's economy, political issues and how they maintain their marriage.

Carville is a devout Democrat, a political consultant who ran Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign and includes Pennsylvania Sen. Robert Casey and former Georgia governor Zell Miller in his list of clients.

Matalin, a Republican, is a political strategist with CNN and was deputy campaign manager for George H. Bush in 1992. She and Carville met and began dating during the battle between Bush and Clinton.

They both admitted that their union, which has lasted almost 18 years, is proof that Republicans and Democrats can indeed get along.

Matalin began the night's event with a few jokes, including one about telling her children not to wake her during a nap. Therefore, she missed a call about former vice president Dick Cheney's hunting accident.

When she called Cheney, the Northern-raised Matalin was confused by his terminology.

"He said ‘I flushed a covey, and I sprayed Harry, and I peppered him pretty good,'" she said. "I wondered whether I had called a cooking show.

Matalin also said when speaking of Sen. Hillary Clinton, she referred to her as the H-Bomb."

But along a more serious vein, Matalin spoke of the economy, stating that the country had the second highest deficit this year in 60 years. The highest was last year's, she said.

People are wary. "People feel more distrust in the government now," she said. "This is the first generation that doesn't believe they will leave the world a better place for the next generation."

But on a positive note, she said 67 percent of voters today say they are more informed about government issues than ever. People are more animated by concern for their progeny and for their country."

She praised today's young people, who are more involved in political issues than ever. "You truly are our future," she said. "You can say anything you want about politics, but you can't say it doesn't matter."

Carville took the stage with a pot shot at Republicans, mixed with acknowledgement that it looks like Republicans may take the upcoming election.

"If you're going to beat us, then at least entertain us," he said, referring to a couple of frivolous bills introduced by Republican leaders.

But he agreed with his wife that no matter how you slice it, political issues are important.

"One thing you can't say about politicians is that what they do is unimportant." He referred to politics as an honorable profession. "I agree with Robert Kennedy. Politics is a noble calling," he said. "Unlike other people, politicians dare to fail publicly.

"You know that when you're going in," he said. "They risk public humiliation ... but they have a lot of fun."

He also commented on the role young people play in society. "The sense of civic responsibility you are learning here (at Georgia Southern) is going to pay off."

Both Matalin and Carville answered questions after their speeches, and fielded questions from reporters during a press conference before the event.

During the press conference, Carville said the time for people, especially young people, to get involved with politics is now. He said demographics and history have made Georgia what he considers a Republican state, but added that he doesn't believe party alliance is what motivates young people to vote and otherwise get involved with political issues.

When asked how he believes Facebook and Twitter have affected political campaigns, he said it is no different from when radio first became popular, or television. "As things happen, we successively think this is going to change the way people communicate."

Matalin told reporters it is human nature to be competitive, and that distance - the separation between candidates in large-scale races as opposed to local political races - breeds lack of civility and the existence of unfriendliness in some campaigns.

She also said the Tea Party will have a significant impact on the upcoming election. The "actual profile of a Tea Partier is, 75 percent of them are college graduates ..." about half are men, half women, and eight of 10 leaders are female.

These are practical moms concerned about the next generation," not necessarily Republican or Democrat. This group will have "a huge influence on the races."

Both she and Carville agreed that the way they keep a happy marriage is they don't usually talk politics.

"If you're a plumber by day, you don't want to come home and fix your own toilet," Matalin said. "He doesn't listen to me and I don't listen to him. We agree on three out of four things."

Carville said "It's hard to say - we agree (on most issues) but three out of four ain't bad."


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