Monitor Breakfast

Selected quotations from a Monitor breakfast with James Carville and Stanley Greenberg.

Democratic Party strategist and political talk show host James Carville and Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg are founders of Democracy Corps, which proposes strategies for the Democratic Party. The two were the featured speakers Monday at a Monitor breakfast, where they released a new national political poll. The poll was taken May 14-16 and had 1,000 respondents.

On overall political outlook:

(Greenberg) "This is the best poll we have had since Labor Day of last year. There are some things that are moving, including the mood of the country, which continues to show greater caution [about] the direction of the Bush administration. Job approval rating for the president drops to 69 percent in this survey, which is a 5 point drop for us."

On the strongest emerging political theme:

(Greenberg) "There are a number of powerful themes that are emerging. I think the strongest one is a sense that powerful people aren't acting responsibly and aren't being held accountable. It carries across a whole range of institutions, starting with Enron, but it relates to a whole variety of corporate practices.

"And while [we are] not suggesting that Democrats speak about this, when you do the focus groups the discussion about accountability begins at the moment with the Catholic Church. The whole notion [is] that people in strong positions are not acting responsibly and being held accountable."

On the Bush administration's vulnerability on health care:

(Greenberg) "The place where the country thinks the president is absent is health care. You cannot do a focus group that does not become a health care discussion. It is right there, just below the surface, and there is a pretty strong sense...that the president has done nothing on the issue."

On the poll's results showing 84 percent concerned about prescription drug prices for seniors:

(Carville) "I am just completely amazed at the power of that issue. ...The things that people domestically were concerned about pre-September 11, there is no evidence these things have lost any of their power. None. "

On whether the current controversy over memos warning about terrorist attacks will affect the 2002 elections:

(Greenberg) "This is not going to be an issue in the fall. ...We need a more secure country. But it is not going to be a political issue how the intelligence was gathered and whether people acted properly based on the information they had."

(Carville) "I disagree slightly. It is too early to tell. I am not saying it will. I am saying I don't know. Based on what we know now, it won't be. But I don't know what else we don't know."

On the desirability of blue ribbon panel to look at intelligence failures:

(Carville) "My experience in life is, if you are going to have an inquiry, have politicians do it. I loathe blue ribbon panels. Let people who go to the polls do it...and if [politicians] go too far, let them pay the price at the polls."

On why the White House focused on Senator Hillary Clinton in responding last week to congressional criticism on intelligence issues:

(Carville) "Why do you think they did? Because they have to go to the [Republican] base. That is strategy 101."

On what the key issues will be in the 2002 congressional elections:

(Carville) "I think there is going to be a fundamental battle, ultimately, over the budget and tax cuts. I do not see any way out of a fundamental battle over the budget. It doesn't need to be fought now. That will be fought out in the leadup to the 2004 elections. So the most important thing is win this year and then have the big battle over which direction..."

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