Matalin, Carville talk politics at Show Me Center tonight

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mary Matalin and James Carville, one of America's best known political power couple, will receive $64,500 for their appearance tonight at Southeast Missouri State University.

Matalin, a Republican operative who this year helped presidential candidates Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney, and Carville, who has been an adviser to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign, take the stage at 8 p.m. at the Show Me Center for a one-hour presentation called "All's Fair in Love and Politics."

The Show Me Center has been set up with room for 1,300, with a few reserved seats, said Dex Tuttle, assistant director of Campus Life at Southeast. The remainder will be filled on a first-come, first-seated basis, Tuttle said.

Matalin and Carville will each speak for about 20 minutes, followed by a 20-minute question-and-answer period for written queries submitted as the audience enters the arena, Tuttle said. Based on instructions from Carville and Matalin, recording devices will be banned during their presentation.

The $64,500 payment -- $49.62 per available seat -- will come from the $1.25 per credit hour student activity fee for such events, said Michele Irby, director of Campus Life. The fee is expected to generate about $242,000 during the current school year and has supported the appearance on campus of such speakers as Michael Reagan, son of the late president Ronald Reagan, and financial adviser Jean Chatzky.

The fund also has a substantial reserve, left over from 2006-2007, when few speakers could be booked who fit the university's schedule or when campus favorites, such as Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show," sought $400,000 for an appearance, Irby said.

Matalin and Carville's oft-told story bears repeating. Both have a long history of service to their party, with Matalin working as a top staff member of the Republican National Committee and Carville building a reputation as the consultant able to take unknown or politically damaged candidates to victory.

She was the deputy campaign manager for incumbent President George H.W. Bush in 1992, taking an increasingly public role during the year as a defender of the Republican and his policies. Carville directed the effort by then-governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas to oust Matalin's boss, successfully guiding the Democratic candidate past sexual scandals and keeping the campaign focused on perceived problems with the economy.

They married in October 1993.

Matalin generally displays a calm demeanor, dispensing her views with tight reasoning and biting commentary on the opposition. Carville, known as the Ragin' Cajun, is more apt to hurl himself into a topic, with his words spilling over themselves as he seeks to destroy GOP arguments.

They have authored books, together and separately, including the best-seller "All's Fair: Love, War and Running for President" with Peter Knobler. Carville has produced movies and they co-produced the short-lived "K Street" program in 2003 for HBO.

Most recently, Matalin served as an adviser for Thompson, a former U.S. senator from Tennessee who dropped out of the GOP presidential race in January, and as a spokeswoman for Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts who quit the race earlier this month.

She has criticized the likely GOP nominee, U.S. Sen. John McCain, for his lack of fidelity on conservative litmus-test issues. And in an interview published Feb. 5 in National Review Online, Matalin said former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee was costing Romney votes and repeated questions about Huckabee's motives, including that Huckabee "has a man crush on McCain."

Carville has not taken an official role with the Clinton campaign this year, instead advising the New York senator on her effort.

And he's not felt constrained by that role in speaking his mind: on Feb. 13, in Orlando, Fla., Carville said primaries on March 4 in Ohio and Texas will be crucial.

"She's behind. Make no mistake. If she loses either Texas or Ohio, this thing is done."

rkeller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126

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