Saturday, March 2, 2002
Democratic political strategists James Carville and Paul Begala, who helped manage Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign, are gearing up to battle on CNN's nightly debate series "Crossfire."
The duo will join the issues-oriented, 6 p.m. talk show April 1 as foils for conservative anchors Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.
"Very often, the definition of a liberal is someone who is afraid to take their own side in a fight, but James and I are not," Begala said Wednesday. "We have strong views and we're ready to back them up."
Left-leaning co-anchor Bill Press will leave "Crossfire" but will continue as a contributor to CNN's "Inside Politics" and "American Morning With Paula Zahn."
The addition of Carville and Begala is part of efforts to beef up "Crossfire," which include expanding the show from 30 minutes to an hour and moving it out of the studio and into an auditorium at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where it will be taped before an audience.
"'Crossfire' has been with us for 20 years, it's one of our mainstay shows, and it was just time to rejuvenate it," said CNN senior vice president Sue Bunda, who oversees "Crossfire" and other series. "The idea of taking it to a live audience made a lot of sense."
Begala, who was co-anchor two years ago of MSNBC's talk series "Equal Time" with conservative Oliver North, called going head to head with Novak and Carlson a dream job.
"CNN is going to pay me to work with my best friend, James, and do what I do normally at home ï¿½ watch 'Crossfire,' scream at Novak and Carlson, and throw socks at the screen," he said.
For Carville, "Crossfire" will provide an opportunity to rail against the Republican commentators who lambasted President Clinton in the 1990s.