Power couple James Carville and Mary Matalin shared their never-ending opposing political views on the stage in Lovett Auditorium Monday night.
Carville and Matalin were this year’s featured speakers at the annual Presidential Lecture.
Carville and Matalin married in 1993 and make no secret of their political rivalry.
Matalin is a well-known political strategist for the Republican Party, while Carville is a Democrat strategist. Both serve as political commentators for CNN.
Lecture attendees were given a substantive point and counter-point that were delivered in a unique way.
The house was packed with approximately 2,000 spectators to watch Carville and Matalin offer their opinions regarding the upcoming general election and current policies.
True to form, the two argued over who would sit in what chair once they got on stage.
Matalin said over the last 20 years the couple has been asked many times how they manage to stay married.
“We do it in a way that all successful marriages do,” she said laughing. “We ignore each other.”
Matalin said the Republican Party faces several challenges by having to take on an incumbent president in the 2012 election.
“We can understand the dynamic hasn’t really changed,” she said. “The dynamic for the president is still a 50-50 race and Republicans are taking on more negative numbers at the moment.”
Matalin said they were both inspired by the leadership demonstrated by students at the University.
“You have been spectacular,” she said to the collection of students, faculty, staff and members of the community. “You are concerned about your future, and job security and the economy. You are different. Your ultimate reaction is not fear, but is action. You’re a generation of opportunity. Create your own reality and destiny. We need you.”
Carville said the younger generation reaffirms his faith in the future of the U.S. because it is engaged and educated in what is going on in the world.
“I often tell people our younger generation is so much better than what we deserve,” he said. “You have an institution like this to give students an opportunity to stay close to home and where it’s affordable and it’s highly ranked. All of this right here, this community, it is terrific. It was a real honor to come here and spend time with you.”
President Randy Dunn said the lecture was informative regarding the 2012 Presidential Election and delivered in an entertaining way.
“It was a fantastic event and certainly carried on the string of successes we can be proud of with the Presidential Lecture,” Dunn said. “I think the change I made a number of years ago to have a little more variety in the speaker, or in this case speakers, depending upon national and world events was reinforced with the currency of the topics both James and Mary talked about.”
He said after the lecture there was a small reception held for a number of people who enjoyed the lecture.
Jeremiah Johnson, president of the Student Government Association, said the lecture series was an innovative way to get students involved in politics.
“I like that they showed both sides of the political spectrum,” Johnson said. “From foreign policy to Bill Clinton. It was good for students to see it first hand.”
He said introducing the political duo was nerve-racking, but a positive experience.
“At first, I was terrified,” Johnson said. “Just talking to them back stage they kind of argue like a cat and mouse, but at the same time they’re in love. One of them said we need to get people back into politics and I agree with that.”
Earlier in the day Carville met with a few students in the Curris Center Ball Room and opened the floor for them to discuss his political career, marriage and predictions for the future of politics. No questions were off limits. Matalin and Carville were also present for a press conference held in Pogue Library to discuss their visit to the University.
The couple is perhaps best known for their extensive roles in the 1992 presidential election.
Carville was chosen as a chief strategist for former President Bill Clinton’s campaign, while Matalin was named director of former President George H.W. Bush’s re-election campaign.
In 1993, the American Association of Political Consultants honored Carville for his role in leading Clinton to the presidency by naming him Campaign Manager of the Year.
After the campaign the pair wrote a book about politics and their relationship titled, “All’s Fair: Love, War and Running for President,” published in 1994.
Matalin’s career also includes serving as an assistant to former President George W. Bush and counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney.
Carville and Matalin ended the lecture by inviting the Murray State community to a brunch at their home in New Orleans for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four.