Politics

Strategist Mary Matalin leaves the GOP. Here’s why.

Honorees James Carville and Mary Matalin accept their bound genealogies from NEHGS president and CEO Brenton Simons.
Roger Farrington/File
Mary Matalin with her husband, James Carville.

Mary Matalin, a high-profile political pundit and veteran strategist for the Republican Party, changed her party registration to Libertarian from Republican, she said Thursday.

But in an interview with Bloomberg Politics, which reported on the switch, she emphasized that her decision was not connected to Donald Trump’s being the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

She described herself as a voter as a “provisional Trump” and a “never Hillary,” referring to the leading Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton.

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Pressed Thursday about why she switched political parties, Matalin told Bloomberg Politics that she was a Republican in the “Jeffersonian, Madisonian sense.”

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“I’m not a Republican for a party or a person,” she continued. “The Libertarian Party represents those constitutional principles that I agree with.”

Of Trump, Matalin said she liked his attitude and what she knew of his economic policies, adding: “I just don’t know enough. I think not only could he win, I think he could win in a landslide if he would stop his high schoolboy antics with women; otherwise he’s going to force suburban women to Hillary.”

She said conservatives were angry after two successive presidential elections in which they lost and with what appeared to be no response from Washington as the party was “falling apart.”

Matalin is probably best known for her appearances on television as a staunch defender of Republican policies. For more than a decade, she appeared on CNN with her husband, James Carville, a Democratic strategist.

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The husband-and-wife team were two of the network’s best-known contributors. For years they were co-hosts of “Crossfire.” After it was canceled, they were regulars on “The Situation Room” and election night specials. They announced in early 2013 that they were parting ways with CNN.

Matalin was President George Bush’s campaign director and was assistant to President George W. Bush. She was also assistant and counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney, according to her website.

She worked at the Republican National Committee in 1984 as national voter contact director for the Reagan-Bush campaign and later as chief of staff to the chairman of the committee.