Monitor Breakfast: Carville, Greenberg, and Shrum

Selected quotations from a Monitor Breakfast with Democratic political consultants James Carville and Bob Shrum, and pollster Stanley Greenberg.

Democratic political consultants Stanley Greenberg, James Carville and Bob Shrum are all founding partners of Democracy Corps , an independent, non-profit political strategy group. Democracy Corps recently polled 1000 likely voters across the United States about their political opinions in the wake of Sept. 11.

Stanley Greenberg, on what the poll showed about voters' mood:

"Most important to me was there is a serious mood about the country. People think the country has great challenges. People think there is a need for community and a need for government, that there are serious fiscal challenges facing the country. They are not interested in frivolous, short-term policies. They are looking for policies that help the whole country. They are not very partisan; they are not very political. They think leaders should not be very partisan or political. What is very clear is that there is no reason for disunity on the broad set of issues related to security.

"...Overwhelmingly the budget priorities of the Republicans in the House, supported by the president, are just out of synch with the budget priorities of the country. His focus on taxes as the main vehicle to achieve economic gain for the country is out of synch with the country."

Stanley Greenberg, on whether approval for Mr. Bush on conduct of the war carries over:

"...Probably the most important finding in this poll ... [was] the fact that on domestic issues the president had no more standing to defeat economic issues than did a congressional candidate. To my mind it underscores the degree to which the president has strong support on broad national security, foreign policy issues, not domestic issues."

Bob Shrum, on what the poll showed about emerging issues:

"The people are very smart. They basically think - my take out of this poll - they basically trust the administration and trust the president on the war and security. They appreciate the fact the Democrats are supporting the president on the war and security, and they trust the Democrats far more with these domestic issues which they think actually are the central task before the Congress. They don't think Congress' central task is the war and security. They think that is the administration's. They think Congress' central task is to deal with the economy and these budget priorities. Health care, by the way, is emerging as a bigger and bigger issue. I think the Republicans this year have gotten short-term gain at the price of long-term pain. They put off the Patients' Bill of Rights, they put off prescription drugs, and they are all going to come back next year as you are headed into an election."

Bob Shrum, on whether Sept. 11 creates a new political climate:

"In this data, at least as it relates to 2002, people really want the Congress to focus on the economy, to focus on health care. Really care about these domestic priorities. Want to hear someone propose, as Senator Clinton did yesterday, that the tax cut be postponed. And secondly, I think the administration has to be very careful. I think if you adopt, as the vice president came very close to on "Meet the Press," if you adopt the kind of House Republican rhetoric about Democrats, you are the ones who are going to start being seen as being partisan and not bi-partisan. As the debate elongates, I think we have plenty of room as long as we are not personal and partisan about it. To talk about the major domestic choices before the country no matter what happens in the war."

Bob Shrum on Bush fears about the Republican right:

"This is not in the polling data. I believe George W. Bush and Karl Rove think that what happened to his father was not the recession of 1992. It was the revolt on the Republican right. So when it comes to issues like tax policy and budget policy, he is just not going to cross [Republicans] in the House. I find it impossible to believe that if he was left to his own devices, if he could make his own decisions, if he could listen to some of the economists, he would in fact come up with a much more balanced stimulus package. But he is afraid of getting crosswise with the people that he believes that, by alienating, his father lost the election in 1992. I think he lives much of his political life, actually, in reaction to that experience."

James Carville on why Democrats have been timid about opposing Bush tax policies:

"Let me say they are trying to get their footing here. You talk to them on some things; they have been pretty united. A number of Democrats have voted against this tax cut ...I think we have been a little slow here but I think we are starting to find our footing."

Bob Shrum on what the poll shows the country wants:

"It has taken people a while to sort out the fundamental difference this poll reveals, which is the country wants us united on the security and terrorism issues. And the country wants Democrats to stand up for their principles which happen to be the policies the people prefer on the domestic front."

Bob Shrum, on signs of Reaganism's end:

"By the way, there are a lot of signs in the data that the era of Reaganism is over or is drawing to a close. With people's willingness to postpone or cancel the tax cut, the increased trust in the federal government which is quite extraordinary, it hasn't been this high in 30 years. The whole sense people have that they want an activist government on issues like prescription drugs, health care, education..."

James Carville on whether the president's performance on the war has been a surprise:

"He is doing a good job on the war and democrats ought to support him on the war. That doesn't mean that this translates into support of his domestic policies. He is doing better on the war than I would have suspected under the circumstances. It don't think it is like a total surprise. I did not think he would be a bad American. [But] he is doing probably worse on economic and domestic issues than I would have thought."

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