Ragin' Cajun Carville: "I hate guys like Glenn Youngkin"

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

Long-time Democrat strategist and fundraiser James Carville sent a fundraising email to supporters of Terry McAuliffe centered around a deliberately divisive opinion – “I hate guys like Glenn Youngkin.” The former Clinton campaign manager, who is known as the Ragin’ Cajun, seems to be in the same kind of last-minute panic that other Democrats are in as election day draws near.

The email was a bone-headed move, though. McAuliffe served as Virginia’s governor from 2014 to 2018. He is now running for a second, non-consecutive term. Glenn Youngkin is the Republican nominee who is running his first campaign for office. Prior to deciding to enter politics, he spent 25 years at the private equity firm The Carlyle Group. He became its CEO. In September 2020, he stepped down from that position and announced his candidacy. In 2021 Youngkin won the Republican primary. I do that little recap of Youngkin’s resume because it is central to Carville’s criticism of Youngkin.

Carville was spreading a hateful message against Youngkin’s private sector success. He sounded like a run-of-the-mill socialist Democrat, perhaps a Bernie bro, in his ranting against Youngkin. Most political professionals, like Carville, know better than to use a negative message that is centered around the word hate. It turns off independent voters and people who aren’t partisan political junkies don’t like the crudeness.

In the Monday fundraising email, Carville wrote, “Folks, I gotta tell you the truth: I hate guys like Glenn Youngkin.”

“First, he amassed tons of wealth by stepping on the little guy at a ruthless private equity firm,” the email continued. “Then he used that wealth to buy the Republican nomination in this race for governor. Now, he’s indulging Donald Trump’s dangerous lies about the 2020 election to win over support from right-wing extremists.”

“Day after day, we see this guy bring out the worst of the Republican Party — we can’t let him win this race,” the email added before asking for donations because “we can’t afford to waste another moment.”

Youngkin was financially successful and that is bad for Democrats who use class warfare in campaigns. I’ll note the irony in Carville taking Youngkin to task for having the money to successfully win a primary race. Carville was doing this rant in a fundraising letter for McAuliffe. McAuliffe began making his personal fortune in the banking industry.

One Republican strategist noted that the email from Carville was all about hate and came after a weekend when the McAuliffe campaign held a rally with Barack Obama. Obama kinda sorta tried to keep the politics of division out of his plea for voters to turn out and vote for McAuliffe. Obama failed miserably but at least he appeared to be making an attempt to control his hatred of Republicans.

During a rally at Virginia Commonwealth University, Obama attacked Youngkin’s supporters as “those who push “lies and conspiracy theories” about the 2020 presidential election.” That is in line with McAuliffe’s campaign theme of Trump, Trump, Trump. You’d think Terry was facing Trump as his opponent. It smacks of desperation that McAuliffe and his big-name Democrat supporters can’t just tout the candidate’s attributes and reasons to support his candidacy. Instead, they revert to the politics of personal destruction, made popular by James Carville and Hillary Clinton back in the 1990s. You may remember it was Hillary Clinton that first uttered the words “right-wing conspiracy” on national television during an interview on a morning talk show. Carville is famous for his dragging a 100 dollar bill through a trailer park slam against Paula Jones. Seems like Youngkin should be proud that Carville “hates” him.

The race is essentially in a dead heat according to most recent polling and Carville, like other Democrats, is worried. He said as much during an interview on MSNBC last week.

“There is no doubt about it, I am scared to death,” Carville said, adding that he has “sent out 47 emails” for McAuliffe.

I hope the McAuliffe campaign is paying him well for all those emails because he has certainly lost a step or two since his days of glory in campaigns.

Obama spoke about “politics of meanness and division and conflict, of tribalism and cynicism” in America during his speech. Obama himself was the most divisive president in my lifetime and his sidekick Joe Biden is doing his best to take that recognition. Obama mentioned the phony culture war perpetrated by Youngkin supporters. He accused Republicans of not wanting people to vote and blasted Youngkin for calling on an audit of Virginia’s voting machines in 2020.

“You can’t run ads telling me you’re a regular old hoops-playing, dish-washing, fleece-wearing guy, but quietly cultivate support from those who seek to tear down our democracy,” Obama said. “Either he actually believes in the same conspiracy theories that resulted in a mob, or he doesn’t believe it, but he’s willing to go along with it to say or do anything to get elected. And maybe that’s worse.

“Because that says something about character. And character will end up showing when you actually are in office. … When are you willing to say, there are some things more important than getting elected, and maybe American democracy is one of those things.”

All of this is why I would argue that Obama was not bringing a message against political division at all, it was a typical Obama speech. His job was to fire up the audience and get them motivated to go vote for Terry McAuliffe. McAuliffe is relying on big-name Democrats to get people to come to his rallies. Besides Obama, he’s used Biden, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Jill Biden, Kamala Harris, and ironically, Stacey Abrams. Abrams famously refused to concede the 2018 Georgia governor race when she lost to Governor Kemp. Was she destroying democracy when she called his win illegitimate?

Where’s Hillary? Shouldn’t she be out there campaigning for her old pal Terry? She’s on a book tour. Seems like she could make a stop or two for her fundraising friend.

The bottom line is that the race is a toss-up and Youngkin has the momentum. The state is deep blue and the odds are that McAuliffe will pull off a victory but it sure is fun to watch the Democrats sweat. They are using Abrams and Lance Bottoms and Obama to get out the black vote in Virginia. McAuliffe is campaigning in northern Virginia which is the deepest of blue. There is a lack of enthusiasm on the Democrat side. It sure would be nice for Virginia voters to surprise us and flip the state for a Republican governor.