ABC: Stephanopoulos and Carville Hope Obama Can 'Hit Reset Button' on Oil Spill, 'Contain Political Damage'

George Stephanopoulos and James Carville, ABC On Monday's Good Morning America on ABC, co-host George Stephanopoulos discussed President Obama's response to the Gulf oil spill with Democratic strategist James Carville: "Probably no one has been tougher than you on this White House on this response. The President now going back for his forth trip. He's ratcheted up the rhetoric over the weekend. Is this what you've been waiting for?"

Stephanopoulos was referring to Carville's criticism of Obama on the May 26 broadcast: "And it just looks like he's not involved in this!...We're about to die down here!" During his Monday appearance, the on-screen headline read: "Carville Demands Justice; Gulf 'Abused and Neglected'"

However, on Monday, Carville struck a more complimentary tone toward the President, remarking that Tuesday's prime time Oval Office address on the spill could allow Obama "to hit the reset button." Near the end of the segment, Stephanopoulos, a former Democratic strategist himself, asked Carville: "...put on your strategist hat here, has the President contained the political damage?" Carville reiterated: "I think he can hit this reset button tomorrow night. I think he can not contain the political damage, I think he can eliminate the damage. I actually think done properly, there's political value in this, I think that he can help himself a great deal."

While hoping for Obama's political comeback, Carville did speak out against the moratorium on offshore oil drilling: "[Gulf residents are] definitely concerned about this moratorium. This is wrecking the economy down here. What has to be done to get this lifted? How soon can we expect that?" Stephanopoulos continued to tow the liberal line: "...do you really think that's wise given the kind of dangers we're seeing with very deep water drilling?" Carville called for more regulation, but concluded: "I think it's essential to the economy down here....you take fishing and you take petroleum away from this, you don't have a whole lot left."

Here is a full transcript of the June 14 exchange:
7:08AM EST            

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to turn now to James Carville, he is down in New Orleans. Good morning, again, James. Probably no one has been tougher than you on this White House on this response. The President now going back for his forth trip. He's ratcheted up the rhetoric over the weekend. Is this what you've been waiting for?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Carville Demands Justice; Gulf "Abused and Neglected"]

JAMES CARVILLE: Well, I hope so, and I think he has a chance to hit the reset button tomorrow night. And there certainly is going to be a lot of interest, a lot of anticipation in what he's going to say. Doug Brinkley has been reporting that the Secretary of Interior said that he's going to address the issue of our vanishing coastline and have a massive public works project. If that's true, that's going to be greeted with – embraced down here and greeted with great approval. But we've got to see, and I think people are very, very anxious. I think they want to hear what the President has to say. And I guarantee you, he's going to have to have a lot of eyes that are glued to the television set tomorrow night. I mean, this is good news. They say they're going to capture 50,000 barrels and I think that they're moving in that direction. But last week, we we're told that the high point was 40,000. So I think these sensors will give people a good, good indication of what's on there. And hopefully, the scientists can give us a definitive answer because every answer we've gotten has been wrong so far. But I'm very encouraged by what I here hear about the ability to capture this oil. I hope it's true and we're just praying that'll be the case.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You mentioned this recovery fund that Secretary Salazar talked to historian Doug Brinkley about. What more, specifically, do you think people on the Gulf are waiting to hear from the President tomorrow night?

CARVILLE: Well, I mean I think that they definitely want to know what's the strategy for cleaning this up? How much oil's been out there? How long do the experts think that this I going to go on? What are going to be the long-term effects on our fishing industry? They're definitely concerned about this moratorium. This is wrecking the economy down here. What has to be done to get this lifted? How soon can we expect that? And the big thing, of course, is what Doug Brinkley, who is a former resident of New Orleans, is reporting is what is going to happen to our wetlands? We're losing wetlands at the rate of the size of Manhattan every year. And if this President seizes this initiative and talks about rediverting the river below what they call Myrtle Grove and reflooding those wetlands, that's going to be a big part of his legacy. That's going to be an enormous thing and that's what people are really looking for here.

STEPHANOPOULOS: James, you mentioned the moratorium on drilling. And I know a lot of politicians down there in Louisiana and across the Gulf are calling for lifting the moratorium. But do you really think that's wise given the kind of dangers we're seeing with very deep water drilling?

CARVILLE: Well, certainly we saw this and I think BP last had something like 700 violations and an Exxon operator had one violation. And I think that, certainly, you would have to have stringent regulations. I think every CEO ought to sign off on it. I think we have to have, you know, top flight engineers come in ensuring safety. But I think this stuff can – is necessary. I think it's essential to the economy down here. And I think properly regulated and properly done, it can be done – nothing can be done risk-free – but I think it can be done much, much better than it was done before. And we're going to have to get back to this, it's just a question of when. It's a very productive field out there and it's killing the economy of south Louisiana. I mean, you take fishing and you take petroleum away from this, you don't have a whole lot left.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, James, we only have a few seconds left, but bottom line, put on your strategist hat here, has the President contained the political damage?

CARVILLE: I think he – I'd rather look forward as we say, and not look back. And you know, I think he can hit this reset button tomorrow night. I think he can not contain the political damage, I think he can eliminate the damage. I actually think done properly, there's political value in this, I think that he can help himself a great deal. It's a complex problem. But he's got to show that he's on top of this thing. That there's a strategy in place. That there's a way to deal with this. And the big thing is, if he's going to estimate something, estimate it on the conservative side because everything else has been overestimated.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay, James Carville, thanks very much.

CARVILLE: Thank you.
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC