Diane Sawyer Reminisces About '92 'Super Bowl' Dem Documentary

Diane Sawyer, ABC, On Tuesday's "Good Morning America," co-host Diane Sawyer fondly reminisced with Democratic strategist James Carville about "War Room," the 15-year-old political documentary on the 1992 presidential campaign. Opening the segment with Carville, one of the film's stars, she fawned, "It's become like revisiting a big moment in the Super Bowl. Going back to 1992, when Bill Clinton and a team of strategists in a war room unseated a sitting president."

Later, after playing a clip of Carville as he congratulated the Clinton team for their hard work, Sawyer cooed, "When you look back, can you believe it still? Can you believe it yet?" Oddly, one person who also starred in the film, and is featured on the DVD cover, wasn't cited in the segment. George Stephanopoulos, the former top aide to Bill Clinton-tuned ABC journalist, somehow escaped mention.

The affection appeared mutual. After the aforementioned clip, where Carville told the staff that labor and love were the most powerful things a person could give, Carville told Sawyer, "I love working with you, Diane. You're both of them, darling."

A transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:43am on October 7, follows:

DIANE SAWYER: It's become like revisiting a big moment in the Super Bowl. Going back to 1992, when Bill Clinton and a team of strategists in a war room, unseated a sitting president. And famously, we heard these words.

["War Room" clip]

JAMES CARVILLE: Stay focused. Talk about things that matter to people. You know? It's the economy, stupid. Okay?

SAWYER: It's the economy, stupid. And there he is, the author himself. The famous documentary, "The War Room," has been reissued, by the way. And Democratic strategist, GMA contributor, welcome aboard. James Carville is here this morning. But, let's talk about the war room 2008. I want to put George Stephanopoulos's maps back up there. Because this shows, right, that Obama is carrying -- he's ahead in all the Kerry states.

JAMES CARVILLE: Right.

SAWYER: From four years ago. But, he has added -- can we bring them on here? Yeah. He's added two states. New Mexico and Iowa. Those are holding secure?

CARVILLE: Yes.

SAWYER: And this means, this means, if we have a third map, there it is. These are the states where it's close. And he only has to win one more? One more? Any one of these?

CARVILLE: Yeah. Indiana's always been a dream state for the Democrats. We've never been able to come close. And there's always been that feeling that we can do it. And right now, from everything I hear and in the polls that I see, we're in good shape. Ohio is- Obama has a significant lead in Ohio.

SAWYER: Okay, but let me put you on both sides of the camps here. Because, if you're Obama, heading into the debate tonight, what do you have to do to secure, to know that you're going to secure this one extra state?

CARVILLE: Well, one thing, he cannot think about those states going in. Because, literally sometimes you do. You freeze up. What Senator Obama has to do tonight is give people a sense of confidence that he understands what's going on, particularly in the economy. That he's sort of calm. That he's reasoned. Also, remember, tonight is very different. These are voters asking questions. And he's got to do the way that President Clinton, then-Governor Clinton did in '92, which really helped them. He was able to connect a one-on-one relationship with the voters during the debate.

SAWYER: So, it's not just talking. It's connecting tonight. Okay. You're John McCain. You're John McCain. You're looking at this map. And you know you have to make a bold move. I'm going to play what Karl Rove says he thinks John McCain has to do.

KARL ROVE: They've got to do two things. One is you have got to talk about character, values and views of Obama in a way that people consider to be fair and relevant. And second of all, the McCain/Palin ticket needs to give voters a positive agenda. So the people who are concerned about Obama's qualification, have something to hang their hat on.

SAWYER: Negative on Obama. Go positive on yourself.

CARVILLE: Well, it's kind of ironic- Isn't it interesting that Karl Rove is on Fox? But, anyway--But yeah. I think he's saying you have got to go negative on him and positive on yourself. Well, that's like saying the future is ahead of us and the past is behind us. I mean, yes, obviously, any campaign wants to do that.

SAWYER: But, specifically, what could he do? Is there anything he can do to change this map?

CARVILLE: I think what McCain can try to do and has not done very effectively, is have a coherent, a sort of coherent strategy to question Obama's judgment. I mean, one day, to have Sarah Palin down in Naples Florida, probably one of the most Republican place in the country, attacking him for something else. There's an uncoordinated, different attack over here. I think what they need to do, if they're going to try to change this around, and understand, right now, this is not a particularly close race. If they want to get back in the race. Because, right now, McCain's really not in this race. He's six points behind. That's a pretty good margin in American politics.

SAWYER: It's close in a lot of these states, though.

CARVILLE: Again, these are states -- every one of these states, George W. Bush carried in a close 2004 election. He is losing -- for him to get back in, he has to -- if it's going to attack Obama's judgment, they have to be much more coherent than they've been. They've been far, far too ad hoc.

SAWYER: So, we'll see tonight if he comes out with one clear message.

CARVILLE: Right.

SAWYER: But, before we go, as we said, "The War Room," is now reissued, the famous documentary. Just want to play a little of it. Because, you talked about, and I'm thinking about, all these people have committed almost two years of their lives to this campaign. This here's what you said to the team back in '92.

["War Room" clip]

CARVILLE: There's a simple doctrine outside of a person's love, the most sacred thing they can give is their labor. And somehow or another, along the way, we tend to forget that. And labor is a very precious thing. That's what I do for a living. I'm proud of it. We changed the way campaigns are run.

SAWYER: When you look back, can you believe it still? Can you believe it yet?

CARVILLE: You know, it was something -- it was great to be able to run a presidential campaign. And, you know, have it work out like it did, is really remarkable. I look back and I feel very, very proud and good about what we did. I feel excited about the way that we're working today. To not know people in these headquarters today, on both sides, that there's a real kind of thing there. And that they're getting that feeling. I'm very glad for them. I had it. And one side is going to have that feeling on election night. And I know they worked just as hard as we did. And they're all good people. I'm very happy for them.

SAWYER: Labor and love. Okay. Return of the war room.

CARVILLE: I love working with you, Diane. You're both of them, darling.

SAWYER: Thank you very much. We're going to go to break as fast as we can now.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org