CNN's Carville on Connection to Kerry Camp

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," Sept. 22, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Now for the top story tonight, even left-wing bomb-thrower Frank Richard (search) of The New York Times agrees with me that people being paid by news operations should not be associated with political campaigns. What say you, James Carville (search), who recently signed on as an unpaid adviser to John Kerry (search), while keeping his pay job as a commentator for CNN?

Mr. Carville joins us now from Washington. And he does have a new book out called "Lu and the Swamp Ghost." No, it is not an autobiography. That's not Carville on the cover. That's not him when he was a kid, but it is a children's book and a good one. First of all, James, you're a stand-up guy. I want everybody to know that.


O'REILLY: You are a stand up guy. Yes, most people in your position — you know, the wrong position usually — wouldn't come in here.

Now, first of all, I want to thank you for sending me this letter. I want to show everybody. All right, it came today. And the letter asked me very politely to send money to John Kerry. Now I appreciate the correspondence. I'm a lonely guy, James, but come on. Come on.

CARVILLE: There you go. Well, I have no idea. Apparently I sent one to Justice Scalia also.

O'REILLY: You sent them to all the rich guys.


O'REILLY: You sent them to all the rich guys.

CARVILLE: Right, right. I have no idea what a computer does. And I think the DNC asked me to sign those. And I'm glad to do it.

O'REILLY: Yes, but come on, James, you're a commentator. You're a big boy now. You're a CNN guy. You can't be asking people for money to send to John Kerry.

CARVILLE: Again, I'd say I'd ask for a part of it. Let's go back and look at the history of commentators and politics. George Will is a commentator and he beat President Reagan for his debate in 1980. Dennis Miller has his own show on CNBC.

O'REILLY: He's media.

CARVILLE: He campaigns with President Bush. Newt Gingrich is a member of the Defense Policy Board. He's a contributor to Fox News network.

O'REILLY: Wait, wait, wait, the Defense Policy Board is not a political campaign.

CARVILLE: Well, sure it is.

O'REILLY: You'd know?

CARVILLE: It talks of Iraq policy. Every time that...

O'REILLY: It's not a political — look, James...


O'REILLY:'re rationalizing now. You're rationalizing now.

CARVILLE: I'm not.

O'REILLY: A thinker like you...

CARVILLE: I don't (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Kerry campaign.

O'REILLY: ...look, you can join any club you want. You can join the AARP. You can join the children's swamp club. Whatever club you want. But you can't be working as a news guy and then — look, it would be like me interviewing President Bush and at the end of the interview saying, hey, why don't we all send money to the president. Come on, James!

CARVILLE: Bill, are you going to let me answer?


CARVILLE: A, I don't have any will whatsoever in the Kerry campaign. B, I am not a news guy. At the end of every "Crossfire," I say in front of the world I'm James Carville. I don't have no idea...

O'REILLY: But you work for a news organization.

CARVILLE: I don't work for John Kerry. I...

O'REILLY: You're an unpaid adviser. Is that...

CARVILLE: I'm an unpaid adviser to any Democrat in the country. I have no role whatsoever.

O'REILLY: James, you sent me a love letter, James, with your name on it, asking me to send money to Kerry. Come on, man!

CARVILLE: It's a self-generated thing that people ask that — I send out letters to different candidates, asking me to sign things for them.

O'REILLY: I didn't get a letter from you ask me to send money to Tom Delay. I don't know how you lost it in the mail?

CARVILLE: Bill, come on, you're a smart guy. I don't know how your name gets on some computer list. The problem...

O'REILLY: But it was your stationary.

CARVILLE: Again, Bill, it's a computer list. I sent out millions of letters to people asking for millions of different things.

O'REILLY: All right.

CARVILLE: I don't know — I mean, you're smart enough and you know that. You're smart enough.

O'REILLY: You're overestimating my intelligence by the way.


O'REILLY: Vastly overestimating.

CARVILLE: I sat down and penned a letter to Bill O'Reilly and asked him to send money to the Democratic Party.

O'REILLY: All right, did you read Frank Rich — the biggest left-winger in the world to agree with me in The New York Times that you and Begala should go on a leave of absence from CNN if you're going to do this?

CARVILLE: Look, you know, I like Frank Rich. He's a Broadway guy. They had a picture of me — like (UNINTELLIGIBLE) big scoop there that they caught me at the Democratic National Convention. They spent more time worrying about me being at the Democratic National Convention than they did editing Judy Miller's story, claiming that Iraq had a nuclear bomb.

I love Frank to death. I have no idea. He doesn't know that that Dennis Miller goes out and campaigns with President Bush.

O'REILLY: But you're James Carville. You're not Dennis Miller. You can't be rationalizing it. All right, let me ask you this.

CARVILLE: You know what, Bill, let me — I'm James Carville. I understand different rules apply to — and Frank Rich has got — he can't write a column about Dennis Miller because nobody cares. But I don't — it doesn't matter because I don't have any role in the Kerry campaign any, so what difference does it make?

O'REILLY: All right, I was going to ask you that. Nobody asks you for your advice about what to tell John Kerry to how to run the campaign?

CARVILLE: People call me and they ask me all kinds of questions. People call me and said do you know this person? Did he work for you? Can you give him a recommendation? Is he thinking about doing this? I have friends that work over there. I have no role in that campaign. I have no office.

O'REILLY: Except to raise money — help them raise money. You're doing that.

CARVILLE: I go to fund-raisers all over town all the time, whenever I'm asked to do it.

O'REILLY: Did anybody from CBS call you and ask you for documents?


O'REILLY: That was a joke.

CARVILLE: I have no idea.



O'REILLY: That was in jest.


O'REILLY: You know, I just want to lighten things up.

All right now, say John Kerry did call you...


O'REILLY: And said, James, you know, I got to regain some momentum here. What would you suggest I do? What would you tell Kerry?

CARVILLE: Well, I mean, first of all, I'd say Sen. Kerry, the main thing that you need to do is you need to concentrate on this debate coming up. I think that you're going to do very well against President Bush. And I think that you have a real opportunity with the American people to show them what your ideas are, to contrast the fact that you think that the United States needs to change some of its policies and talk about those changes.

O'REILLY: Would you say — because this is interesting — would you say to him, "Concentrate on this issue and define the issue?"

Would you do that?

CARVILLE: Well, yes, I would certainly say that people are looking for a discussion about these real big things. I think that the people are very concerned about what's going on in Iraq. I think people want to hear from you about what you think is going right and what you think is going wrong, what you would do differently.

I think people are very concerned about health care costs and the rising health care costs. And I think that you have been specific on this question. And you need to just take a deep breath and go through the distinctions between you and President Bush.

O'REILLY: All right, Iraq...

CARVILLE: And the same thing with foreign policy and terrorism.

O'REILLY: All right, now, the Swift Boat ad, people came out again with a new one and says John Kerry went to France to talk to the North Vietnamese. And this was a traitorous act. How do you advise Kerry to reply to this?

CARVILLE: I wouldn't reply to it. I think that people are so far beyond that. I think in the debates here, I think what's going on now around the world, I think people are really focused. And I think they're going to be increasing their focus. I think Sept. 30 is going to focus this nation's attention on questions like foreign policy, like questions of what's going on in Iraq. And I wouldn't...

O'REILLY: All right, so you say it all goes away with the debate next week? Now in what...

CARVILLE: It's all starting to go away right now. I think they put out a silly windsurfing ad. And I think the Kerry campaign did a good job of coming back, talking about all the serious things that are going on in the world. And I think it's time for the Bush campaign and Bush himself to start taking these things seriously.

O'REILLY: OK, but remember...

CARVILLE: Everybody is not taking this seriously.

O'REILLY: ...the Bush campaign didn't have anything to do with the Swift Boat ads. I asked the president that point blank.


O'REILLY: Now...

CARVILLE: You're welcome to believe that, but I don't.

O'REILLY: Look, I have to give people the benefit of the doubt.

CARVILLE: I understand. I understand.

O'REILLY: You know, I gave Dan Rather the benefit of the doubt. I'm going to give Bush and I'll give Kerry the benefit of the doubt. If he tells me eye to eye...

CARVILLE: He's a good guy.

O'REILLY: Yes. No, I'm not a good guy, but if he tells me something eye to eye, I don't...

CARVILLE: Again, I don't know if President Bush — again, but I think — there's no sense in arguing about it when we have a difference of opinion. And we do sometimes.

O'REILLY: All right, fine.

CARVILLE: And we can move on from there.

O'REILLY: But we don't want to do speculation here.

I advised Senator Kerry in the "Talking Points" memo that he should apologize for stuff he did 35 years ago in a blanket. Say, "Look, everybody makes mistakes 35 years ago."

Look at you, James. I think you were in that swamp that you write about. I certainly made mistakes. Say, look, people...

CARVILLE: 35 years — 35 minutes ago.

O'REILLY: Yes, why doesn't he do that?

CARVILLE: I think that he said if I remember correctly on "Meet the Press" that he said some things as a young man that he wouldn't say today, and that that, you know, and I don't think there's any doubt that there's...

O'REILLY: Just say, "I'm sorry I went overboard on some of this stuff" and it goes away.

CARVILLE: Bill, don't hold me to it, but I think if you're going to look at the transcript, he did say that.

O'REILLY: No, but he's got to do it himself so everybody sees it. You know people aren't going to hunt these transcripts down.

CARVILLE: OK, I think he did it on "Meet the Press" but don't hold it to me because my memory is a little foggy.

O'REILLY: All right, what do you make of this CBS story? Does this help President Bush because now you can't revisit the Guard thing anymore? Or does it hurt him in some way?

CARVILLE: Well, I really — I don't know. I don't think it hurts him. I don't think it helps much. I think people are starting to really get focused. I think that people understand what's at stake at this election. And I think they're going to reward the candidate that takes real problems seriously, that stays focused. I think that Senator Kerry is going to do fine if he contrasts himself and talked about the differences and distinctions he has with President Bush that currently exist and that are going to exist over the next four years.

And I think he will do that. I expect him, by the way, to do quite well in the debate on Sept. 30.

O'REILLY: He has to. He has to. If he doesn't, he loses. So he's got to come out and he's got to draw that distinction that you want him to draw.

CARVILLE: I think he'll do quite well.

O'REILLY: Now he's also got to come on "The Factor" now that President Bush has. And President Bush, I mean, this isn't some cupcake interview. Would you advise — I know you don't — but would you advise John Kerry to sit across from me and answer the same kinds of questions?

CARVILLE: I would not — I would advise Senator Kerry that he develop some very good positions, you're increasing in confidence. And I would advise him to go on different kinds of shows.


CARVILLE: Yours would certainly be one of them, but I wouldn't specifically say one show over another.

O'REILLY: But you'd do them all, right?

CARVILLE: He should — yes. I think that would be — I think that would be good.


CARVILLE: I think right now, to be fair to him, maybe he's prepping for all these debates. He could do more shows.

O'REILLY: Yes, but he's doing "Dr. Phil." He's doing "Letterman." He's doing "Regis."

CARVILLE: Right, you know...

O'REILLY: That's OK, but he's got to do the serious stuff, too.

CARVILLE: You know what, Bill, take yes for an answer.

O'REILLY: All right. Now I'm going to hold you to that. Now James...

CARVILLE: I don't have any influence, but I'm glad to get him a place right here on "The Factor."

O'REILLY: No, I want to tell everybody to buy your book because it's a good kids' book.

CARVILLE: Thank you.

O'REILLY: I got kid's book coming out. James and I are going to ruin the nation's youth, but it's a good book.

But I also want to say, the next time you write me a letter, James...


O'REILLY: ...asking me to send money to some of your friends...


O'REILLY: I just want a little personal hand note just to make it a little bit more personal.

CARVILLE: There it is, Bill. I'll sit down and write you a personal note, thanking you for having me on the show tonight. I appreciate.

O'REILLY: All right, James Carville, everybody. Let's hear it for him.

CARVILLE: I appreciate it.

O'REILLY: We appreciate it.

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