Monitor Breakfast with James Carville and Stanley Greenberg

Excerpts from a Monitor breakfast with James Carville and Stanley Greenberg

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Democratic strategists Stanley Greenberg and James Carville of Democracy Corp were the guests at Thursday's Monitor Breakfast in Washington. Here are excerpts from their remarks:

On why President Bush's job approval rating has dropped to 58 percent in Democracy Corp's new poll:

Carville: "I think when he did this dividend tax cut, it really did just cause [those polled to say] this is too much. ...something fundamental is going on here other than what people would refer [to] as a natural pullback from 9/11 highs.

On what fundamental factors are at work:

Greenberg: "The president's views are misaligned. He is out of the mainstream with what people believe about how you ought to do economic policy, what principles ought to apply. And the focus on working- or middle-class people is a central principle, along with tax cuts focusing on working or middle class people and relieving their financial pressure. [It] is central to ... achieving greater economic confidence. ... [we tested] and the president is out of the mainstream on these economic principles."

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On what Democrats need to do given the president's lower approval numbers:

Carville: "I am not for anybody [in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination] but the moment that it looks like somebody is going to win this thing, then I am for everyone [else] getting out. I will be so viciously for that person you will not believe it. I will go out and campaign day and night to clear the field. Because we really need to get someone out there fast who speaks for the party."

On whether voters will support the president if a case is made for war with Iraq:

Greenberg: "On the war, I think [presidential adviser Karl] Rove is right.That is, the country will rally - their doubts are rising, his foreign policy performance [in polls] is dropping, and the notion that we should do this with allies and with the UN is not a flip concept. People understand those are important security issues in this new period.

But, nonetheless, if the president declares we have the information we need and goes to war, I believe (Rove) is right and the country will rally to it.

Being unpopular in the world in this environment has consequences. There is probably a different government in Germany and a different government in South Korea, two key allies, because of unpopularity [of US foreign policy]."

On the need for democratic presidential candidates to address defense issues:

Carville: "We've got to acknowledge we can't take defense issues and foreign policy off the table. In fact, I think we've got to put them on the table. ...you just can't...go out and run this thing on healthcare and the environment. The public isn't going to let you do that. ...Karl Rove is not stupid, he is going to put them back on the table....

Bush has to go make a case for this thing. If we come across and you start getting these sound bites of Democrats just saying we are against war or we are just reflexively against everything, then it is going to feed into a [negative] perception and nobody is going to win this race just being reflexively against war."

On the impact of the Bush administration economic plans:

Carville: "This is not class warfare, this is generational warfare. This administration and old wealthy people have declared war on young people. That is the real war that is going on here. And that is the war we've got to talk about."

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