OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: Region's own Mary Matalin back, minus hubby, for pre-election fun

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2012-11-02T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Region's own Mary Matalin back, minus hubby, for pre-election funPhilip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

It's becoming a fond and fun tradition to see our Region's political commentator claim-to-fame Mary Matalin return to our area every four years just in time for the presidential election.

In 2008, just four days before Election Day, she joined her equally famous and opinionated husband James Carville, whom she married in 1993, to discuss and debate before audiences at Shannon Center Main Arena, 3700 W. 103rd St., at Saint Xavier University in Chicago.

And Thursday, Matalin, 59, was back at Saint Xavier as guest speaker for another of these popular "point-counterpoint" public forums.

But this time, she was minus Carville, who celebrated his 68th birthday last week. Instead, she was opposite rival political commentator Donna Brazile, who has been seen plenty this month on ABC at the news desk next to Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos for the follow-up to each of the presidential debates.

Carville, of course, was the chief strategist of President Bill Clinton's successful campaigns to the White House, and it was Matalin's staunch Republican allegiance and political consulting that helped lead the way for George Bush Sr. to the presidency.

The last time I wrote about Matalin, Times readers wrote me to clarify "Mary grew up in Burnham on Saginaw Avenue and went to high school at Thornton Fractional North High School in Calumet City, but did not live there."

Matalin went on to graduate from Illinois Western University.

Today, Matalin and Carville live in the latter's birth city New Orleans (where they also had their wedding) with their daughters Matalin Mary "Matty" Carville, 17, and Emerson Normand "Emma" Carville, 15.

As to what advice Matalin and Carville have about casting ballots, here's what they had to say when I chatted with them the last time:

"Many areas play a part in a successful political candidate," Matalin told me.

"And it all begins with asking yourself: 'Why is this person running?' They have to have a good reason. In the case of Elizabeth Dole, it was confusing. First, it was: 'Let's make history. I'm a woman.' Then, it was a message: 'Don't just vote for me because I'm a woman.' Well, then she was no longer running. Partly, because neither of those were good reasons to be running."

Carville told me the candidate who is "able to speak with simplicity, relevance and repetition is the one who wins."

"I urge you to listen carefully for those three things," he said.

"People are busy, and it's not too often when they are willing to turn to politics. When they do, the candidate using those three things as a campaign technique will reach the most voters."

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

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