Karl Rove and James Carville took to the Tate lecture stage to close out the final lecture of the 34th season May 2.
Rove is a Republican political strategist who led George W. Bush’s victorious 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns. He also served as Senior Advisor to President Bush from 2000-2007 and as Deputy Chief of Staff from 2004-2007. He currently is a columnist for the Wall Street Journal and appears on Fox News.
Carville is a Democratic political consultant and the architect of Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. He has managed other campaigns in over 20 countries around the world, and currently serves as an advisor to a Super PAC campaigning on Hillary Clinton’s behalf.
Moderating the debate was Jim Lehrer, who has more than 35 years of experience on PBS hosting PBS NEWSHOUR.
The debate got off to a start with both Rove and Carville agreeing the Republican nominee in the current election will inevitably be Donald Drumpf, and Hillary Clinton will win the nomination for the Democratic side.
Their discourse moved on quickly from there, under the assumption that the general election would pit Drumpf versus Clinton.
Rove consistently attacked Clinton’s character, stating she was untrustworthy and “paranoid.” He also quipped that there is only one primary that Clinton has to worry about winning, and that is the “FBI Primary,” in relation to the ongoing probe into Clinton’s private email server used to complete state department business.
Rove was also outspoken about the Obama administration. Every time he was questioned on whether he supported Drumpf, he responded that he was not for a third term of Obama — which Clinton would represent — saying the nation’s economic recovery and foreign policy have been a mess under Obama’s time in office.
Carville was not without his jabs and responses. He directly called out Rove on stage for being “testy” and “agitated,” insinuating that the Republican Party’s current disarray was causing the difficulty Rove was having. Carville stated he thought Clinton was “honest,” “trustworthy” and “well-prepared” for the job as president.
Carville also had many jabs at the Republican Party as well. He said that before Drumpf, the Republican race looked like a “beautiful punch” over at the Dallas Country Club. However, he said that Drumpf came along into the race, “straddled the punch bowl … and well you can fill in the rest.”
While he admitted the Democratic Party has had its troubles in this race, when asked to compare the Republican’s troubles to the Democrat’s, he likened Clinton’s troubles represented a “pothole” for the Democratic Party, while the problem of Drumpf was a “nuclear bomb” on a magnitude fit to destroy the Republicans.
Often, Carville advanced the theory that the Republican Party was ill-suited to win a general election in the current demographics of America and he predicted a landslide victory for Clinton. Rove cited disapproval ratings and slow economic growth as being reasons why Clinton would not be elected — because the nation is ready to take the country in a different direction than Clinton or Obama would.
Overall, the two had a fiery debate over the character traits and current states of their respective parties. This debate could be a foreshadowing of the battle lines that will be drawn in the general election.