When longtime democratic strategist James Carville told people he was off to Indiana to speak to Democrats there, he kept hearing, “wow, that’s a demoralized bunch.”
Not so, Carville said to the crowd at the Indiana Democratic Party’s Hoosier Hospitality Dinner, attending as the keynote speaker and spending the next 20 minutes Friday night boosting them, while also tearing down state Republicans and Washington Democrats for, respectively, failing to support Hoosiers and for struggling to meet the voters where they are.
Mike Schmuhl, chair of the Indiana Democratic Party, said that Carville was brought in because they wanted someone “who was not a traditional politician” and “who was an attraction and different and well known.”
Nicknamed the “Ragin’ Cajun” for his Louisiana roots — apparent by his fleur-de-lis tie he sported — Carville is best known for leading former President Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 presidential campaign.
His speech echoed the purpose of his podcast.
Carville took a hit at the Republicans, saying they are to blame for “one of the worst health care systems in the United States” and “young people that are graduating from universities who are then leaving the state.”
He then slammed the Democrats in Washington who “whine and complain” and talk in “code language.”
Asked in an interview with IndyStar how Democrats can market themselves ahead of the midterms, Carville said that the Democrats have to make people feel like they have something to lose.
“We have got to be the party that talks about real people and real problems and even real solutions,” he said, adding that Democrats have to highlight the “terrific employment numbers” and the “child tax credit” that significantly reduced child poverty.
Carville brought this suggestion to his audience, reminding Indiana Democrats of what they are fighting for.
He touched on the likely reversal of Roe v. Wade and the recent House hearings on the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, joking that if former Vice President and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence came into the room, the crowd would offer him “milk and cookies,” not threaten to hang him.
While a Democrat has not held statewide office in Indiana since former Sen. Joe Donnelly was voted out in 2018, losing to Republican Mike Braun, Carville ended by noting the power that Hoosiers have to reclaim this territory and help solve America’s problems.
“Don’t wait for orders from the DNC (Democratic National Convention) or anybody else,” Carville said. “You understand what people want. They want leadership that is responsive to their lives and their hopes and their dreams. And if you want to do all of that, it is real simple. Elect more Democrats.”
Contact IndyStar reporter Lizzie Kane at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @lizzie_kane17.
Indiana Democrats are not a demoralized bunch