It’s All Fair at Carville and Matalin’s debate address

While John Kerry and President Bush have been hitting the campaign trail, the UM community has been gearing up to host the first Presidential Debate. The highlight event of this year’s freshman orientation was speeches by political strategists, and married couple of more than ten years, James Carville and Mary Matalin, co-authors of the book All’s Fair: Love, War and Running for President. The book was also given to all incoming freshman and transfer students as part of orientation.

Matalin is a Republican strategist and serves as assistant to the president and counselor to the vice president. Carville is a Democratic strategist and was senior advisor to former President Bill Clinton.

The two first spoke individually, each speech full of marriage banter and political humor.

Carville made fun of the President’s notorious “Bushisms,” while Matalin portrayed the Democrats as overconfident and arrogant. They also focused heavily on the upcoming presidential election.

“This election is not just about change; it’s about choice,” Matalin said.

“I think the voter turnout is going to be enormous,” Carville said. “There is nothing that will energize people to vote more than a war and a poor economy.”

Carville also commented on the Democratic Party campaign — he feels that the Party is stronger than ever.

“I’ve never seen Democrats as energized, as motivated,” he said.

Carville even went so far as to predict the winner of the November election. Perhaps not surprisingly, he foresees Senator John Kerry becoming the next president.

Matalin had many criticisms of the Democratic Party, commenting that the fundamental flaw in the Kerry campaign is that they “think they can’t lose.”

“If [Bush] is such a disaster, then why isn’t Kerry running away with the campaign?” Matalin asked. “We are going into our convention really, truthfully, ahead of where we thought we would be.”

Both gave students their words of wisdom about leaders. Matalin’s single piece of advice for any candidate running for a political position: “Be for something. You can’t be something with nothing.”

“So many people believe leadership is doing something the people don’t want you to do…a real leader brings people along to what they want to do,” Carville said.

The speeches were followed by a question and answer session, in which students were able to ask Carville and Matalin their political questions.

For more information about upcoming events at UM connected to the Presidential Debate, visit

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