May 29th, 2010
10:34 AM ET
4 years ago

White House says Carville doesn’t know all the facts

Gibbs says Carville doesn’t fully understand what the administration is doing in response to the BP oil spill.
Gibbs says Carville doesn’t fully understand what the administration is doing in response to the BP oil spill.

(CNN) – James Carville doesn’t know all the facts, the White House says.

Amid repeated criticism from the Democratic strategist and CNN contributor over the president’s response to the BP oil spill, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Friday Carville doesn’t “understand all of what we’re doing.”

“Truthfully, I think the president answered this yesterday. I think people - I don’t think James understands all of what we’re doing. I don’t think James understood the facts,” said Gibbs on board Air Force One when asked what the president thinks that some supporters like Carville have been critical of the administration’s response to the crisis.  In a press conference Thursday, Obama insisted he and his administration understood the magnitude of the crisis from day one.

Related: Obama promises support to oil-stricken region

Carville, a Louisiana native, has repeatedly said the president is not being tough enough on BP for its bungled response to the massive leak in the Gulf Coast.

"BP is not the equal of the United States government," Carville told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King earlier this week. "And this president needs to tell BP: I'm your daddy, I'm in charge. You're going to do what we say."

After completing a tour of oil soaked wetlands on the Louisiana coast Wednesday, an emotional Carville also told CNN, "We need some action here, and we need to get this thing moving very quickly.”

Carville also expounded on his criticisms Friday while giving the commencement address at LSU’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center.

“I don’t like criticizing the president,” he said. “My goal is to make our case — you don’t understand what this is — the magnitude of it…if he’s getting poor advice — if he’s not understanding the nature of what’s going on — then I have to hold him accountable too.”


Filed under: James Carville • President Obama
soundoff (83 Responses)
  1. Mixed Bag

    After watching President Obama's visit to the BP "Potemkin Village" (nice analogy, Carville) at Grand Isle, with it's specially uniformed, newly bused-in clean-up workers...who are you gonna believe?

    James Carville, a native and a Democrat who actually LIVES there...or White House flack Gibby, who has the sole responsibility of being non-responsive to the White House press corps?

    I'll take Carville over the BP/White House spin machine anyday.

    Who wouldn't...?

    May 29, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  2. Katia

    Don't like Carville too much but he is right.
    The President has not shown leadership nor compassion for the people that have been affected by this disaster .
    Instead we have seen him playing golf and attending fundraisers and please don't reply with what Bush and Cheny used to do.
    We voted for Obama to do better and he hasn't , same old politics if not worse.

    May 29, 2010 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  3. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    I love James Carville, but everybody knows James to be a bit of an actor who spouts off exaggerations and no need to be angry with him, just know the facts.

    May 29, 2010 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  4. Rob Johnson

    Carville is a smart guy, but he is also a hothead. They don't call him the Ragin' Cajun for nothing.

    He is upset that his home is being destroyed, so he lashed out. I think we can all understand why he would be upset.

    The bottom line is that we are in uncharted territory here. There has never been an oil leak of this magnitude this far underwater, and it's not something we have any experience with.

    May 29, 2010 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  5. kk

    Carville must have been listning to his wife to much and her Republican views. He owes all of us an apology in the way he presented himself. The government is doing all they can to stop this nightmare but people like him yell before everything can be evalulated. I realize his frustration but calm down and listen to what the President said yesterday.

    May 29, 2010 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  6. Kay Kartsioukas

    I am so impressed and moved by the words of James Carville. Although I was once an Obama supporter, with the President's handling of Loan Modifications (his plan gives the Banks all the power), Health Care reform (his plan gives the insurance and pharmaceutical companies all the power) and now This Oil Spill (his actions give BP all the power) I can clearly see that the Emperor has no clothes.
    The media seems to imply that if you are not supportive of all the President's actions, you are either a Closet Republican or a Closet Racist.. I am not and have never been either one of those. Just as the Republicans were wrong to remain silent through 8 years of the Bush and Cheney circus show, so are Democrats today who will support whatever Obama is doing just because they are Democrats. When it comes down to it, we must be Americans first, and Republicans or Democrats second.
    Obama ran the greatest political campaign In history. But campaigning and governing are very different. Thank you James Carville, for speaking up when your voice needed to be heard. Too bad you are too honest to run for politics.

    May 29, 2010 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  7. A Kickin' Donkey

    James Carvelle has acted stupidly.

    I don't blame him for being emotional about the risks from the oil spill but I do expect him to be a bit more responsible in how he manages those emotions. This is not how someone that wants to be part of the national Democratic Party influence structure should act.

    Carvelle has always been suspect in my mind as a supporter of the President. His allegence is questionable based on his never ending support of Hilary Clinton during the primaries ... even when it became clear that she couldn't win. Thereafter, I've heard him say words of support regardilng the PRESIDENT but if I judge his body language and convictions ... I'm not convinced he is part of the "A" team .... he may be a "B" or "C" team member. He'll have to earn his way back if he wants to be taken seriously.

    Right now, somebody needs to scrap him off the ceiling and remind him that his hot headed outbursts are being used as fodder by the RNC in webmercials against the President. I don't think he wants to be viewed that way.

    May 29, 2010 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  8. cryspill

    Rather than taking out his frustration on the President, James Carville should have made his feelings known to the White House directly. He knew how to do that and had more access to White House folks than any of the rest of us.

    I believe that James Carville should be held ACCOUNTABLE for HIS rant, which may have felt good at the time, but which will be proven to do a great deal of damage to the Administration as the Republican Party plays his angry, self-serving words over and over until November.

    While he may believe he deserves more right to vent anger because he is from Louisiana, he, in fact is not any more horrified by this event than the President and all the rest of America. To have taken out his uninformed anger and spread it over the President like the horrendous oil spill itself, was unconscionable.

    It is James Carville who needs to make a firm APOLOGY to the President now that he understands more about what has been done in the past number of weeks. He can focus on only one issue and yell about it. The President, on the other hand has to deal with financial reform, Arizona, immigration, climate change, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. The President is trying his darndest on this oil spill, and,contrary to some, is a caring human being who is keeping his head about him while all else are losing theirs and needs to be appreciated as such.

    May 29, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  9. Albert

    The reason we don't understand all of what is being done is the lack of transparency about what is being done; no public disscusion. The big problem is that BP is allowed to do as they please and clearly they will only take into account what is best for BP and not the world. When a corporaton is trying control something in order to stay alive after all the law suits, it will "go for broke" even if that means taking risk that we the people would think twice about. If they blow a hole in that pipe someplace between the ocean floor and the ocean of oil under the ocean floor, it will be the end of life as we know it. Ths is not a job for a greedy corporation, it is a job for the people.

    The only thing a oil corporation can cortrol is our government. Therefore we the poeople have two big leaks to fix, this oil mess and no more corporations controlling Capitol Hill; we need to amend our Constitution.

    May 29, 2010 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  10. Slider

    If the leftist pusher Carville doesn't understand the 'facts", sir, then maybe you, Gibbs, are doing a lousy job of communicating them.

    Then again, you only parrot what the Jive Turkey in Chief tells you to say, which isn't much. Probably because JTiC is too busy blaming 'big oil' and other forms of business before he learns the 'facts'.

    I wonder if the JTiC wishes he could vote 'present' for the next coupla years of his failed presidency.

    May 29, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  11. Pragmatic

    Old saying: ounce of prevention = a pound of cure!

    Fact is no one knows what will work ... not the oil companies, not the government. When the technology catches up, and the mess is cleaned up, then the rules for prevention need to be enforced ... over Big Oil's dead bodies – if needed!

    Just asking ... does America still give Big Oil federal subsidies?

    May 29, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  12. Robert

    BP was not being completely truthful from the very beginning about how much oil is being leaked into the Gulf. Taking that – how can Gibbs now claim that the Administration "Obama insisted he and his administration understood the magnitude of the crisis from day one"? They got bad advice and did not act fast enough. Too bad they just can't fess up that they blew it!!!

    May 29, 2010 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  13. Choice that matters

    Carville has not been a big Obama supporter in the first place. But..that aside. I think he is just being passionate about his state avoid as much catastrophe as possible. I just wish he was more supportive of Obama.

    May 29, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  14. dacajun

    I have known James since 1st grade. He knows the coast and its people. Obama should listern. Maybe he could learn something. But I doubt it.

    May 29, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  15. Howard2, Seattle, WA

    Clearly, people do not see a 'chain of command". And I think it is partly the terminology being used. 1. BP is "responsible for fixing this problem, but 2. the Coast Guard is "in charge". The Coast Guard reports to Janet Napoletino who reports to Obama, so technically Obama is "in Charge." It has definitely not appeared that way to the public because Obama it to busy pointing fingers at BP (another big EVIL corporation). Pointing fingers is what he seems to do well. Instead of POTUS, I think it needs to be changed to FPIC, Finger Pointer In Chief.

    May 29, 2010 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  16. nearthesea

    Liberal eating their own.

    May 29, 2010 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  17. Peace

    Unfortunately I do not admire the way James Carville always explodes. We saw him during 2008 campaign making name calling. Gov. Richardson was called Juda when he exercised his right of choosing who to support. People tend to ignore those who their behaviour becomes familiar. I am afraid Carville is heading that way.

    May 29, 2010 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  18. cryspill

    Rather than taking out his frustration on the President, James Carville should have made his feelings known to the White House directly. He knew how to do that and had more access to White House folks than any of the rest of us.

    I believe that James Carville should be held ACCOUNTABLE for HIS rant, which may have felt good at the time, but which will be proven to do a great deal of damage to the Administration as the Republican Party plays his angry, self-serving words over and over until November.

    While he may believe he deserves more right to vent anger because he is from Louisiana, he, in fact is not any more horrified by this event than the President and all the rest of America. To have taken out his uninformed anger and spread it over the President like the horrendous oil spill itself, was unconscionable.

    It is James Carville who needs to make a firm APOLOGY to the President now that he understands more about what has been done in the past number of weeks. He can focus on only one issue and yell about it. The President, on the other hand has to deal with financial reform, Arizona, immigration, climate change, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. The President is trying his best on this oil spill, and,contrary to some, is a caring human being who is keeping his head about him while all else are losing theirs and needs to be appreciated as such.

    May 29, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  19. cspurgeon

    Justb get tougher with BP and stop with the mouth pieces and defense. Let The media do their thing and the admin concentrate on improving this situation.

    May 29, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  20. Bill Bagwell

    James Carville is sooooo much the democrat, he thinks the Government should run the country when in fact, it can't even run the Government.

    Bill Bagwell
    Littleton, CO

    May 29, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  21. Lilarose in Bandon, Oregon

    I think that James Carville understands all of what the White House is NOT doing.

    New Orleans is my ancestral home; my people where there in the early 1800's and are still there, buried in cemeteries all over the state. I have living cousins in New Orleans.

    I spent a week touring the parishes that were devastated by Katina and Bush's inability to help at all.

    I understand why Carville and his wife feel the way they do. Carvilles, keep up the pressure.

    I voted for Obama. I have high expectations for him to do more than he is doing on the Gulf spill.

    May 29, 2010 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  22. Ancient Texan

    When Obama finally realized that something had happened that the rest of the nation was aware of, he responded the only way a president should, by delegating authority. Mr Carville was under the impression that the president had already nationalized the oil companies. That is a chore for next week, James.

    May 29, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  23. elle

    Is McCarville 'on' or 'off" drugs? The hyperspeed rant was way too over the top.

    May 29, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  24. ATC333

    The gentleman needs to recognize that even the US Governmetn cannot seize BPs property without first giving them the chance to corriect the situation. Obviously, BP lied about the extent of the leak, and the Feds believed them. The real error occured in not mobilizing the clean up earlier, by using tankers to surround the leaking well, as was done in the Middle East. the Feds do not have the assets to seal the well, BP's would have had to be seized and used, along with employees, and its technology. Likewise, current law did not permit such actions. Obviously, that will have to be changed first.

    May 29, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  25. November

    Yeah, I don't think anybody really understands all the things your administration is doing, Mr. Gibbs.

    May 29, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
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