James Carville says Democrats 'don't have the votes' to be 'more liberal' than Joe Manchin

  • Democrats “can’t be more liberal” than Joe Manchin due to the evenly-split Senate, Carville said.
  • “That’s the fact,” he told Vox. “We don’t have the votes.”
  • The longtime strategist said the party should relentlessly hammer the GOP about January 6.
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The longtime Democratic strategist James Carville knows a thing or two about winning an election.

As the chief strategist of former President Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 campaign, he helped the Democratic Party end a 12-year streak of GOP control of the White House.

In a recent Vox interview, Carville pushed back against suggestions from some Democrats that the party, no matter the consequences, should be passing its highest-priority legislation since it has control of the House and Senate.

Carville spoke of Sen. Joe Manchin, the moderate West Virginian who opposes axing the filibuster and has called for more bipartisan cooperation on President Joe Biden’s proposed infrastructure bill, in arguing that the party currently has a limit for what it wants to pursue.

“The Democratic Party can’t be more liberal than Sen. Joe Manchin,” he told Vox. “That’s the fact. We don’t have the votes.”

House Democrats have passed a raft of legislation praised by progressives, including the sweeping H.R.1. voting rights legislation as well as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, but both bills face resistance in the evenly-divided Senate.

Many Democrats, fearing their agenda will get bogged down by gridlock, have sought to end the filibuster, but Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have so far resisted such calls.

Read more: Prosecuting Trump does not look like a DOJ priority under Biden’s attorney general. But watch Georgia and New York.

Instead, Democrats should use every opportunity to hammer the GOP about the Capitol riot on January 6, Carville told Vox.

“Two of the most consequential political events in recent memory happened on the same day in January: the insurrection at the US Capitol and the Democrats [Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff] winning those two seats in Georgia,” he said. “Can’t overstate that.”

He added: “But the Democrats can’t f— it up. They have to make the Republicans own that insurrection every day. They have to pound it. They have to get people to write op-eds. There will be all kinds of investigations and stories dripping out for God knows how long, and the Democrats should spend every day tying all of it to the Republican Party. They can’t sit back and wait for it to happen.”

If the shoe were on the other foot, Carville said, the GOP would use the Capitol attack as a racially-charged wedge issue.

“Hell, just imagine if it was a bunch of non-white people who stormed the Capitol,” he said. “Imagine how Republicans would exploit that and make every news cycle about how the Dems are responsible for it. Every political debate would be about that. The Republicans would bludgeon the Democrats with it forever.”

He concluded: “Whatever you think Republicans would do to us in that scenario, that’s exactly what the hell we need to do them.”

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