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. Jayden,FL

    I'm a Democrat just like Mr. Carville and I agree with everything he said! The President is moving to slow and he's not doing enough! he will pay for this politically... Like Mr. Carville said the "political stupidity is unbelievable".

    May 29, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  2. Shane-LAS VEGAS

    I could not agree more with Mr. Carville. He is very intelligent and we should hold BP and the Feds accountable. For 3 weeks the White House has been telling us it is BP job and they are calling the shots. All of sudden at the press conference, Obama said that they have been in charge since day one. Which one is it??? Why are you not reporting on this. If this Oil spill was around Hawaii, How fast do you think it would have been cleaned up?

    May 29, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  3. all of america

    That's because obama and the white house dosen't want the public to know all the facts.

    May 29, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    Why have we not seized the assets of the company, employed hundreds of thousands for cleanup on the BP payroll, and put the greedy so and sos in the stocks for public exhibition? This is a crime against the entire world and it is not being treated as such. A poor guy spills oil from his car and he has all sorts of fines, but this, oh well months can pass as they kill off the very ecosystem we need to survive and they keep paying dividends? Get real.

    May 29, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  5. cardog

    James Carville has been a true Democratic trooper starting back with the Clintons. Because he's from La. I can understand his angst for what is happening in the gulf. Here's my question to all those who now wish to pile on President Obama regarding this issue:
    1) Just what is it President Obama should do other then what his administration has done and continues to do?
    2) Would it suffice if the President of the United States put on a diving suit, go down a mile under water and stick hi fist in the hole?
    3) This is certainly NOT President Obama's Katrina. He has done everything possible to focus attention where it should be.
    Barak Obama is the President of these United States. There are other things going on in this country and around the world that has his attention as well. Because he has not spent the last 37 or 38 days in La., does not mean that he has no concern for the situation in the Gulf.

    People like Rush, Glen and the other minnions of the right wing has literally stated that the oil spill is Obama's fault. I wish these people as well as those of you who have nothing else to do with your lives but sit around and blame this president for everything from getting up in the morning, to how he does not brush his teeth correctly, would give it a rest.

    May 29, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  6. We salute you Carville..!

    Keep it going and show the world that neither the White House nor BP responded to the "Oil Spill" and also made us aware that through both adinistration Dem. and Reb. the rules are not in place to govern the oil industry.....Obama visit to the Gulf looked more like a guided tour................................................................................................................!

    May 29, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  7. marianne

    No one understands the impact this catastrophe will have on the United States. As a northerner transplanted in the south, unless you have experienced the beauty of the Gulf coast, you cannot understand the loss everyone will experience. Nothing has been done and things could have been accomplished at the beginning say having oil tankers pumping oil out of the water. Now the damage is done and this will not be an easy task. The damage will take 10 -15 years to combat. Wildlife, peoples' livelihood, etc. No man is an island everyone will be affected.

    May 29, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  8. Claudia Blairsville

    If James Carville doesn't " know " what is being done how does the White House expect the rest of America to " know"
    Apparently fines haven't worked with BP , perhaps what we need is a Nationwide Boycott of BP Oil, If we stopped buying their gas ( and there ARE other choices, then maybe the loss of revenue would get thier attention. How bout it America , NO BP GAS !

    May 29, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  9. Mark

    They're eating their own again! Just goes to show you how bad this is when those inside the party are even going against the party line. It's funny how the Democrats say how much Republicans tow the party line but never look at themselves and how they will defend their own til the end (Rangel) even if we all know they are wrong.

    Wake up people, it happens on both sides! They're politicians, can you expect any better?

    May 29, 2010 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  10. normajean

    Carville calls himself a Democrat, but he's not in the party that I'm a part of. This man, because of some vague bit of popularity can get on the screen and yell at the President as if what he says really counts. If he's so concerned about what's happening, why isn't he down there with a bucket and shovel helping instead of flapping his big mouth. Our president has been hit with the worst mess in history that started two years ago and just gets worse. This is not of his doing and he has every possible knowledgable brain try ing to find an answer that the BP should have known before they ever sank this well.If you haven't got an answer, then SHUT UP.

    May 29, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  11. Mike

    Thge President said that all major BP actios are cleared with the US government. Then that makes the government and Obama to be the ones to blame for the inaction to date. Carville is right to dump all over him. Obama is showing what a huge mistake it is to elect someone who never had one day of real management experience.

    May 29, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  12. harold

    James gets a little too excited... I think as a Democrat maybe he ought to have some suggestions.. or solutions.. he can play like he is in charge now....We all knew long before the spill the risks involved.. and the fact B-P has cozy friends in high places with both the oil party.. the republican party... and Democrats .. Where was Carville before the spill?.. James is a good Democrat like me.. but really.... sit down and have a drink of something.. or get out there and scoop some Oil off the beaches .....James.. Don't sound like a Republican...The Public is tired of gripers and whiners...I get my news off the computer...These critic doctors are tiresome...

    May 29, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  13. Willie

    With all due respect, we, the American people, don't understand all that you, our government, our protector, is doing to help with this environmental crisis. So does us all a favor, along with Carville: Tell us what you are doing and why, exactly, it has taken you almost five weeks to begin to do it.

    Honestly, telling us that it is you fault or that you take responsibility just isn't good enough. We're not looking for blame. We're looking for responsible government, responsible oversight, and action-taking instead of pandering and talking and holding commissions and panels and councils. Fix the problem, don't discuss it.

    The level of attention that the White House is giving this crisis this week should have been the level of attention it received 4 weeks ago.

    There will be a time and place for blame, and discussion, and investigations into this whole mess. Right now people just want it fixed and cleaned and cared for; nothing more. Yet, night after night; week after week; day after day; all we hear are talking points, pointing fingers and inaction to solve the problem, clean up the mess, and take care of the people who are affected by it.

    May 29, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  14. kro

    Carville is correct, Obama is not standing up to BP.

    May 29, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  15. Colorado Liberal--and Proud of It

    There is probably truth on both sides of this Democrat "debate." Robert Gibbs is probably correct on one point: the Administration is surely doing much that we don't appreciate–and while trying to undo the damage of eight years of the Bush/Cheney holocaust.. James is surely correct on another point: BP must answer to the President, to the American people.

    Question: Just how much has BP attempted to hide from the President from the American people?

    I pray for the end of Corporate America as we know it. Corporations are completely out of control in the US (and throughout the world) as most liberals and some conservatives are well aware.

    May 29, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  16. Oliver Johnson

    Not only does Carville not have the facts, neither does Obama, or any other of the people involved. What's worse, this lack of information, coordination, decision making is delaying effective actions.

    When something requires lots of diverse information, resources, decisions, evaluations and verification, the proven best method is to appoint a Task Force Leader with proven high profile project management experience. Whether the FULL TIME leader understands chemistry, biology, ... is of little consequence. This should have been done by the end of the first week.

    That will give us a focus on problems, resources, information, solutions, decisions, assessments, progress and plan. Until this happens the actions Carville is asking for won't happen with enough focus for effective actions and effective communication with all parties involved, including the public.

    I don't care how smart and competent his is, Obama can't do this with a press conference and a 3 hour photo tour once in a while.

    May 29, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  17. normajean

    To the know-it-alls that continue to take shots at our president. Just look in the mirror and ask yourselves. "What have I done to help this country and our people" " Have I really tried to make this country better or am I just complaining because I haven't got the brains to do anything else?Frankly, you haven't got what it takes to do ONE THING to improve the world around you and with your attitude, you never will. That face in the mirror is that of a user and a loser.

    May 29, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  18. Dennis1020

    The best thing that could happen to BP is for the Federal government to say "we're in charge". From then on, BP could say "we did what they told us to do" and their legal exposure would be diminished. The best thing the government could do is say to BP "YOU have a big problem, now fix it and we'll send you the bill later."

    May 29, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  19. ib

    As hard core a democrat as Carville is it is saying a whole lot when he comes out against Obama. People that's bad and it shows what a joke we have as president.

    May 29, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  20. MNDOC

    Why is it that with the Obama administration that everytime they are subjected to criticism they simply say "you don't get it". Why do they NEVER try to explain what it is we don't "get".

    May 29, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  21. MontanaTrace

    Watching the montage put together on Gibbs try to slither away from the Sestak offer is laughable.

    May 29, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  22. Hammerer

    And who, may I ask, knows the facts?
    Or the the real truth. Would any of this cast of players recognize the truth or have the ability to speak the truth if they did?
    Deceit has been the method used for so long are they capable of using the truth?

    May 29, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  23. katiec

    It is easy to be an armchair referee. Carville is not privy to all that is going on and should think before he speaks. Generally I agree with him but this time is an indication that he enjoys hearing hisself rant. Perhaps his wifes policies, the staunch republican that she is, are having some bearing.

    May 29, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  24. D.

    What facts are there about "lack of action" more like "lack of factual actions" so of course there are no facts.
    Why are you shutting down a Louisiana guy from your own party? What a shameful conduct!

    May 29, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  25. Hwy91

    “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.”

    Really, Jimbo? Because it sounded like you got a real charge out of blasting this President... And who asked you to personally school the President on what you THIINK he doesn't understand, and why have you appointed yourself to "hold him accountable"? And hey, by the way, are you in it up to your bald head with Chris Roberts – oh wait – Roberts is a Republican... Well, that wouldn't stop you, would it? Your hubris knows no boundaries...

    May 29, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
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