WASHINGTON (CNN) – One of Washington’s most prominent political couples weighed in Sunday on the latest sexual scandal to dominate political headlines.
James Carville, a Democratic strategist, and Mary Matalin, a Republican strategist, gave their unique takes on the situation of South Carolina’s embattled Republican Gov. Mark Sanford.
After days when his whereabouts were unknown and during which he was apparently unreachable by both his staff and his wife, Sanford held an emotioal and sometimes rambling press conference last week. Before local and national media, the governor admitted to carrying on an affair with a woman in Argentina, where Sanford had been AWOL for several days prior to the presser.
“I actually thought that his press conference was very, sort of compelling television,” Carville said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. The Democrat also told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King that he hoped Sanford would not have to resign because of the scandal.
The Democratic strategist added that Democrats should not view the scandal as an opportunity to attack Sanford or the GOP.
“I have no idea, but, if I had to guess, there’s going to be some Democrats that are going to get entangled in this kind of stuff because there always is people,” Carville, a longtime ally of former President Bill Clinton, said.
That said, Carville threw down the gauntlet with Republicans in anticipation of the 2010 and 2012 elections.
“If they go back to this what-do-we-tell-the-children, family values stuff, I’ll lead the attack on them,” the Democrat said. “If they just leave it alone, and say, ‘you know, we’re all human beings, we’re all capable of falling, let’s concentrate on policy,’ then that’s fine. Let’s move on to the next thing.”
Carville’s wife said Gov. Sanford should be focused on the personal rather than the political aspects of his situation – particularly the potential impact on the Sanfords’ four young sons.
“He has to make those four boys understand that this God awful betrayal has nothing to do with them,” Matalin said. “That he loves them and he needs to pray that they will forgive him. That’s his number one job.”
On Reliable Sources Sunday, Howard Kurtz played the exchange and posed the question directly to Pitney: "You said the White House notified you that you would probably get a question. Everyone assumes what we just saw was orchestrated."
Pitney denied having planned out the exchange with the White House and said the criticism from other reporters stems from "jealousy" and "hypocrisy."
"From beginning to end, there was no planning involved," Pitney told Howard Kurtz.
Dana Milbank of The Washington Post, also on the panel with Pitney, wasn't buying the explanation.
"Nico, the night before, sent out an email to his colleagues saying, 'Some big news. The White House called earlier this evening and asked if I could ask a question of President Obama. I'm about to post a solicitation to the blog, Facebook/Twitter. It seems fairly likely that this is going to happen. I'm pretty sure it's going to happen, but it's not 100%.’ “
Milbank said he is not comfortable with the current relationship between the White House and parts of the press corps.
"The White House shouldn't be calling a person the night before, we are going to call on you if you ask a question on a particular question asked a certain way."
Pitney later said that given the situation, he wanted to make the most of it.
Asked on CNN’s State of the Union how much damage the recent admissions of marital infidelity by Nevada Sen. John Ensign and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford have done to the Republican Party’s already struggling brand, Pawlenty said “it’s hard to quantify that."
“But clearly there’s been damage,” Pawlenty quickly added.
“Anytime you have leading figures who are engaged in behavior that is sad and troubling and hypocritical, other people are going to look at that and say, ‘They don’t walk the walk,’” Pawlenty CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. “And so the words and the actions don’t ring true.”
Pawlenty called the situation between Gov. Sanford and his wife, Jenny – the couple is currently separated because of the governor’s extramarital affair – “a sad and troubling situation.”
“I’m proud of Jenny for her strength . . . and, frankly, I was glad to see her not standing at the press conference [where Sanford admitted the affair last week] like many others have and kind of charting her own path.”
And Pawlenty had harsh words for his embattled counterpart in South Carolina.
Sanford “should not have left the state and not allowed people to know how to contact him in case something happened,” Pawlenty told King. “Your staff has to be able to reach you and reach you quickly for all the obvious reasons – natural disaster, terrorism, or other events,” Pawlenty also said.
Asked about the GOP’s relationship with its socially and fiscally conservative base, Pawlenty said Republicans need to return to their values.
Army Gen. Ray Odierno said he's seen a "constant improvement" in both the security situation and governance in Iraq to prepare for the June 30 deadline for U.S. troops to withdraw from major cities.
"They've been working for this for a long time," Odierno said on CNN's "State of the Union."
(CNN) - After recent confessions of adultery by two Republican politicians, Sen. Lindsey Graham on Sunday decided against casting the first - or any - stones regarding ethics.
Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press," Graham, R-South Carolina, went out of his way to avoid any disparaging comments about rival Democrats in terms of family values. When former Massachusetts governor and fellow Republican Mitt Romney spoke of strong families as a core Republican value, Graham quickly interjected on behalf of rival Democrats.
"I don't think Democrats are for dysfunctional families," Graham said, adding that President Barack Obama has been "one of the better role models in the entire country" as a good family man and a good father.
"President Obama has done a lot of good in the way he carries himself and conducts himself" regarding family, Graham said.
His comment followed questions about South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who admitted last week that his disappearance for five days was due to visiting his mistress in Argentina. Earlier this month, Sen. John Ensign of Nevada also admitted to an affair.
Graham said he was godfather to one of Sanford's four sons and that Sanford's top priority must be to reconcile with his wife, Jenny, and keep his family together. If Sanford does that, Graham said, then he believes the governor can serve the rest of his term, which expires in January 2011.
"Mark Sanford's lucky to have Jenny Sanford," Graham said. "I hope he realizes that. I think he does."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Minnesota’s Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty took aim Sunday at the high price tag for President Obama’s ambitious plans to reform the nation’s health care system.
“The president said not long ago in an interview, quote-unquote, we are out of money,” Pawlenty told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King when asked whether the country could afford health care reform right now. “With all due respect Mr. President, if we’re out of money, quit spending it,” Pawlenty added.
“And, so no, we can’t afford it. This is a nation that has got a debt load and a deficit load that is unsustainable. We’re going to have, in my view, the federal government debt crisis equivalent of the mortgage crisis within 20 years.”
Pawlenty also said that he didn’t think the new administration was serious about addressing federal spending, notwithstanding the president’s recent emphasis on cleaning up the federal government’s fiscal situation.
The Republican also slammed a proposal favored by some Democrats for a public health insurance option as part of health care reform legislation.