LCSN: Political heavyweights highlight NMSU’s Domenici conference

September 20, 2012. Retrieved online September 21, 2012 from Brian Fraga, Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES — New Mexico will not play a big role in deciding this year’s presidential election, Democratic strategist James Carville told a packed ballroom Thursday at the Domenici Public Policy Conference.

Carville, sporting an NMSU baseball cap, predicted that New Mexico will vote Democratic, and that Republican Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign is not spending a lot of money to advertise in this state, which President Barack Obama won with 57 percent of the vote in 2008.

The 2012 election was the topic of discussion of a panel consisting of Carville, Karen Hughes, a former ambassador and campaign director for President George W. Bush, and Sam Donaldson, the veteran ABC News journalist.

Donaldson moderated the discussion, which took place at the Las Cruces Convention Center on the second and final day of the fifth annual Domenici conference, named for retired U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico.

Carville and Hughes sparred on the partisan gridlock in Washington, D.C., and the respective campaign strategies for the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates.

Hughes slammed President Obama for “polarizing the country” and failing to exert leadership, especially over the economy, which she argued had worsened under his stewardship because of rising unemployment and poverty rates.

Hughes said Romney, a former venture capitalist and one-term governor of Massachusetts, is a “true leader” with a history of “turning around bad situations.”

Carville slammed Romney as a “bad candidate” unable to make his case for why people should elect him. Carville quipped that even he himself could have defeated Herman Cain, the Georgia businessman who ran for president during the Republican primaries.

“If Mitt Romney has any skills to run for president, I haven’t seen it,” Carville said to applause.

Donaldson contained his commentary to the hyper-partisan tone in Washington, D.C., saying that politicians today are less likely to compromise and are constantly in campaign mode.

“They can’t accept that they lost. What’s that about?” Donaldson said in reference to Republican lawmakers’ refusal to accept the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010.

Carville said today’s political culture has politicians overly concerned with losing primaries, when both parties’ candidates try to appeal to more ideological voters. Hughes added that the nation’s capital has a “pretty ugly environment,” and said it discourages her from running for office.

However, Hughes said she still believed most individuals who enter politics are generally good people with sincere intentions.

“I believe the pursuit of politics can be a noble endeavor,” she said.

Read the Las Cruces Sun-News article

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