- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Democratic strategist James Carville yesterday said Howard Dean should be replaced as chairman of the Democratic National Committee for failing to pursue a greater margin of victory in last week’s midterm elections.

“I would describe his leadership as Rumsfeldian in its competence,” Mr. Carville said during a meeting with reporters, a reference to outgoing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who has been reviled by Democrats.

Both Mr. Carville and Democratic strategist Stan Greenberg said the DNC should have invested more money in congressional races.

“There were 14 seats where a one-point difference could have flipped the seat,” Mr. Greenberg said.

Mr. Dean has said he has no intention of stepping down since Democrats won control of both the House and Senate — by picking up 29 and six seats, respectively — disregarding similar criticism leveled earlier by Mr. Carville.

“This is some kind of inside the Beltway silliness,” Mr. Dean told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.”

Mr. Dean also said outgoing Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr., Tennessee Democrat, who Mr. Carville says should run the DNC, told Mr. Dean he is not interested.

Throughout yesterday’s meeting, Mr. Carville repeatedly compared the Democrats’ victory to the famous Civil War battle at Gettysburg, where the Union Army won but decided against pursuing a retreating Confederate Army.

“We should have chased them down,” he said.

Mr. Carville says he asked for a meeting with Mr. Dean several weeks before the election to discuss spending additional funds on competitive House races held by Republican incumbents. A meeting was not granted, but the DNC said it had taken out a $10 million line of credit.

“They left $4 million on the table,” Mr. Carville said.

Mr. Carville said he has “no problem” with Mr. Dean’s so-called “50-state strategy,” which places money and field operatives in states where Democrats do not already have a strong presence. But he said more short-term priorities should take precedence leading up to the election.

“The point of a political party is not to hire people, it’s to elect people,” he said.

Despite his criticism, Mr. Carville said he was still pleased with the election results.

“Let’s not diminish what happened here,” he said. Asked why he was airing his feelings publicly, Mr. Carville said, “I think things need to be pointed out.”

Looking beyond 2006, both Mr. Carville and Mr. Greenberg said Democrats should focus on energy independence as their signature issue, comparable to how Republicans have focused on tax cuts.

“People don’t trust the private sector on this,” Mr. Greenberg said.

According to Mr. Greenberg, the Iraq war was the main reason Republicans fell out of favor with voters this year. In addition, he said White House adviser Karl Rove was too focused on the conservative base, which came at the expense of independent voters, who went for Democrats by a nearly 2-1 margin.

“I believe those kind of conclusions lead to bad judgment,” he said.

Both men were asked their assessment of potential 2008 presidential candidates. Neither would state their preference, although Mr. Carville joked.

“I’m predicting it won’t be a Kerry [versus] Allen race,” in reference to Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, and recently defeated Sen. George Allen, Virginia Republican.

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