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Raymond Strother
Raymond Strother
Falling Up:  How a Redneck Helped Invent Political Consulting
ISBN: 0807128562
Falling Up: How a Redneck Helped Invent Political Consulting
—from the publisher's website

This brash and rollicking autobiography is a potent primer of the rough-and-tumble world of political consulting by one of its founding fathers and preeminent experts. Beneath the white-hot glare of the modern mediasphere where “ole pol,” shake-every-hand campaigns have given way to electronic image making and speed-of-light smear tactics, Ray Strother rolls cheerily along. A cross between a patriotic redneck raconteur and a TV-savvy renaissance man, Strother is unafraid to name names and refuses to mince words in tales of what he calls “the beauty and gore” of American politics.

Strother begins with his blue-collar Democratic upbringing in the oil-refining small town of Port Arthur, Texas, in the forties and fifties. He follows with the crash course in Louisiana politics and corruption he received following graduate school. His vivid evocation of larger-than-life characters such as Jimmie Davis and Russell Long prefigures politics as an arena for the cult of personality that later bloomed — for better and worse — with the pervasion of TV. Strother’s mastery of the subtleties of political commercials counterpoints his compelling entry into the big-time senatorial and congressional races of the 1970s and early 1980s.

The book reaches its dramatic climax in the story of Gary Hart’s 1984 presidential campaign. Strother’s gifts for incisive portraiture and media analysis crystallize an image of Hart as a brilliant, enigmatic, but ultimately self-destructive man and a democracy increasingly bedazzled by celebrity, blinded by breaches of privacy. The author’s adventures with the Clintons, Al Gore, and Louisiana notables, as well as famous consultants such as Dick Morris, Matt Reese, and James Carville, both tantalize and instruct. In a final set of reflections, Strother provides a disquieting picture of the devolution of candidates and consultants and the ascension of money and polling.

Falling Up is a wildly entertaining, controversial, but finally optimistic political and media success story that will thrill and inspire a broad range of students, academics, journalists, and anyone spellbound by American politics.

Falling Up: How a Redneck Helped Invent Political Consulting
Program Air Date: June 1, 2003

BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Ray Strother, where did you get the title "Falling Up"?
RAYMOND STROTHER, AUTHOR, "FALLING UP: HOW A REDNECK HELPED INVENT POLITICAL CONSULTING": Well, you know, there are times when I feel like I`m out of control. Early in my professional career, I was representing people I wasn`t proud of. I was doing things I wasn`t terribly pleased with. I was trying to invent a business that didn`t exit. And I felt like I was in a freefall, a moral freefall. But I kept making more and more money and getting more and more recognition. So I didn`t know it until I wrote the book, but then I found myself falling up, is what happened. I ended up in Washington, D.C., because of it.
LAMB: What was your business?
STROTHER: I`m a political consultant. And when I began political consulting, it was called a political advertising agency, back in the `60s. There was no such thing as a political consultant. So I was having to invent on the fly and invent a profession as I went along. No role models in Louisiana, where I was working. No role models. I didn`t know any other political consultants. I didn`t know what they did, if there were any -- and there weren`t many. And so I was sort of feeling my way through, like touching a hot stove, withdrawing, touching it again until I learned where it was cool and where it was hot.
LAMB: I want to ask you to tell a story from 1971, the Jimmy Davis (ph) campaign.
STROTHER: Oh, my God! The Jimmy Davis campaign was such an experience because it was the last of the pure, old campaigns, the last stump speech.
LAMB: Who was he?
STROTHER: Jimmy Davis was governor of Louisiana twice. He was a country music singer who wrote "You Are My Sunshine." At least, he says he wrote it. He actually bought it from somebody for $10, but that`s another story. But anyway, he was a man who was very, very intent on making money, and secondarily, intent on becoming governor. He was running again as a very old man for governor, after he`d been governor twice, had made cowboy movies and done all these things. And really, he was giving performances.

We had this incredible band, hillbilly band. We had a guy named Eddie Raven (ph), who was a young singer. He was 19 years old, later got to be a big star. And we had this group of musicians, and we traveled around and had a stage that looked like a butterfly. And the sides would fold down, and when they folded down, it revealed a bass drum, a piano, amplifiers, the whole thing. Then all you have to do is go to the courthouse steps, plug in the stage and start a performance. And we gave three to five performances a day. And contributions came in.

Louisiana was an oil-rich state at the time. There was cash everywhere. It was amazing. I don`t know why oil produces cash, but oil produces cash.
LAMB: You mean instead of checks.
STROTHER: Instead of checks, yes. There`s cash. There were $100 bills everywhere. Many clients paid my fee of $50,000 in $100 bills at the time. So Davis was collecting money by the double fistful of $100 bills that never appeared again. He`s dead now, but you know, the money disappeared. It never went into the campaign. The checks went into the campaign, the cash simply evaporated.
LAMB: Now, Jimmy Davis was the governor of the state of Louisiana twice.
STROTHER: Yes, he was.
LAMB: For how long each time?
STROTHER: Four years each time.
LAMB: You got to tell the bus story.
STROTHER: Ah. The bus story`s a fabulous story. We had a -- we had the typical country music bus. Had a bedroom in the back. Had a refrigerator and a little stove in the front, and seats for about eight people. And it was Davis and his wife and me and a couple hangers-on, a nephew or something. And we traveled together. And Davis was a man who would take full meals and wouldn`t stop for the rest of us to eat, if you could understand that. And I was a kid, you know? And I was -- talk about falling up, I was hanging on, is what I was doing at that time, just trying to make a living. I was in my early 20s. I -- it was -- it was a tough life. It was a tough go.

But I was a newspaper guy. I`d come out of the Associated Press. And I was riding on the bus, and all of my old friends in the newspaper business were complaining because Davis would not talk to them. He didn`t want to talk to the press at all. So one night, we`re going from Alexander (ph), Louisiana, to Monroe, Louisiana -- the most desolate road in America. It looked like a strip through the stars through the pine trees and there was a strip of stars above you -- dark, dark, dark, dark. And we got into a great argument about the -- about him talking to the press, and he said, Stop the damn bus. The driver stopped. He said, Get off. So I got off.

And I was happy to sit on the side of the road in the wilderness with no cars, nothing but crickets and occasional alligators bellowing in the background. And then a car starts coming down the road. You could see it going over the hills, see the lights coming. And it was a guy named George Dupuis (ph), who was a hanger-on, who followed the bus with a submachine gun because he felt he was the protector of Jimmy Davis. He says, What you doing standing on the side of the road? I said, I got kicked off. He said, Well, get in. I got a truck -- a case of beer in the back. And I got in, started traveling with him.

And after that, Davis never let me on the bus -- back on the bus. I started traveling with the band, which was an incredible experience. I`d never been involved in a group of people who had no idea of current events. They didn`t know if Davis was a Democrat or a Republican. They had no concept of anything except horses, cheating women, big hats, boots and guitars. I mean, that was their sole interest in life. It was a really eye-opening experience for me.
LAMB: Now, Eddie Raven, the singer, who`s still around, I think...
STROTHER: Oh, yes.
LAMB: Yes.
STROTHER: Big singer.
LAMB: Had a little problem with Jimmy Davis`s wife?
STROTHER: Well, Eddie was a 19-year-old kid that Davis had found in a music store in Lafayette, Louisiana. And Davis had just remarried a member of the former Carter (ph) family, Anna Carter. She was a lovely, beautiful woman, still is a lovely, beautiful woman. She was considerably younger than Davis.
LAMB: How old was Davis at the time?
STROTHER: He must have been about 75.
LAMB: And how old was Anna Carter?
STROTHER: She must have been 50, 55.
LAMB: This was in the `70s, in `71, yes.
STROTHER: Yes. So anyway, she was a -- she was a lovely, lovely woman. But Davis is paranoid and very jealous, and he decides that Eddie`s going to take advantage of Mrs. Davis. So he starts putting a padlock on the outside of the bus, has a hasp put on the outside of the bus and a padlock, so Eddie couldn`t get to Mrs. Davis. So it was my job to go tell Eddie. And Eddie said, Me? He said, That would be like having sex with the Virgin Mary! A member of the Carter family? Me? And I thought Eddie was going to cry. He said, I wouldn`t do anything like that, Mr. Ray!
LAMB: So he literally locked her in the bus.
STROTHER: Locked her in the bus. I`d hear her crying in the back of the bus. It was -- it was pretty gruesome.
LAMB: What happened in that campaign? Who won?
STROTHER: Oh, Davis came in fourth or fifth or sixth. I don`t know. The person who won was Edwin Edwards, who became governor and served many terms and now is in federal penitentiary.
LAMB: Now, while we`re on Louisiana, you also worked for Buddy Roemer.
LAMB: Who was a Democrat, then a Republican.
STROTHER: Oh, yes. In `87, he was elected as a Democrat, as a reform Democrat -- one of the brightest, most capable men I`ve ever known. I`ve represented Buddy Roemer and Bill Clinton at the same time, as governors. And Buddy Roemer was much better than Bill Clinton, if you can imagine that. If you can think of how good Clinton is on his feet, how glib he is, what a good mind he has, Roemer was better. He was an amazing man who got bogged down in some personal problems and didn`t end up being the greatest governor in the world. Plus, he had Edwin Edwards on the side, sniping at him and making the legislature reject all his legislation.

But Roemer was a great governor, and he served four years to not great satisfaction of a lot of people. And he got ready to run again. And I didn`t see him in the four years he served. I don`t involve myself in government at all. So I went to see him one afternoon. He was sitting at a long table, his desk, which in the governor`s office is about an acre. One piece of paper, one pencil on it, and one pen. And he said, Sit down and help me. I`m trying to write a letter to get my wife to come back to me. And I said, Buddy, you know, you`re talking to the wrong guy. So anyway, at that point, he asked me to come back into the campaign.

Well, I moved into the governor`s mansion, and it was great living in the governor`s mansion. You know, it`s like being governor without having to be -- having to govern because you have -- and particularly Southern governors use convicts for everything -- for cooks, for laundry, for everything. And they use murderers who normally commit murders were crimes of passion. So you know, they`re not dangerous people. They`re good people who got drunk and slipped up once and shot somebody`s lover or something. You know, it`s like that.

So -- but to live in the mansion was just a wonderful thing. You put your shoes out at night, the next morning they were shined. There was a dry cleaner`s downstairs. The cooks liked me and would cook big platters of cookies for me, so when I went to bed every night, there were cookies and milk by my bedside. It was -- I had people who drove me around. It was like living -- I was living better than the governor because I didn`t have any responsibilities to govern.

But after a few months of that, the Republicans began talking to Buddy about changing parties. And I said, Buddy, you`re not going to do that, because we were talking at that time about a presidential bid one day. And he said, Oh, no! Of course not. I wouldn`t do that. You know, I`ve a heritage as a Democrat. My father was a Democrat. My grandfather was a Democrat. So it made me feel pretty secure.

So I was going back and forth, Washington to Louisiana, Washington to Louisiana. I was flying my own plane at the time, so -- but I was living in the mansion, basically, because he needed a lot of attention. The campaign needed a lot of attention. Edwin Edwards was running against him again. So I dropped into the mansion. I actually was going to Texas to visit a client, and I was in my plane, so I flew into Baton Rouge because I needed suits and ties and shirts. They were all there.

So a state policeman picked me up and took me to the mansion. I walked in, and a guy named Harris Diamond (ph) literally tackled me at the door and said, What are you doing here? I said, I live here. He said, You can`t be here. I said, What do you mean, I can`t be here? I have shirts and suits upstairs. I`m going up to the get my shirts and suits. He said, You stand right here and don`t move. And then he went in the dining room, and I say Mary Matalin and a whole bunch of Republicans sitting around a big table. I said, Oh, God! Buddy`s talking to the Republicans.

So Buddy comes out -- Roemer. He takes me into a little side office. He said, Look, don`t worry about a thing. He said, When the president of the United States calls -- and it was George Bush calling. When the president of the United States calls, you have to listen. He said, You have to show him the courtesy of an audience. He said, But I`m not going to change parties. He said, Don`t you worry about that. I said, Well, you make me feel better. He said, Now, go and do what you got -- have to do, and don`t worry about me. So I went up and got my suits, went back out to my airplane, took off and went to Austin, Texas.

Picked up the paper next morning with my breakfast. I stayed at the Four Seasons. I turn through the paper, and there`s a little story, "Louisiana governor changes party." That`s the first I knew about it, and it just shocked me. So I called him. I said, I don`t know if I can continue with you, Buddy. I`m going back to Washington. I`d never represented a Republican in my life.

So I went back to Washington, and he called me. He said, Raymond, he said, you`re my friend. I said, I am, Buddy. He said, If I went to prison, would you bring me cigarettes? He was a chain smoker. I said, Sure, I`d bring you cigarettes. He said, If I had a disease, would you donate blood? I said, Sure, I`d donate blood. He said, But if I changed parties, you run? I said, Well, you know, you`re -- you`re making a difficult case. He said, I`m still running against the Ku Klux Klan. David Duke was a candidate for governor, who had been a wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. I`m still running against a dark -- darkness and evil, Edwin Edwards. He said, I was doing it as a Democrat, and I`m doing the same thing as a Republican. What`s changed? He said, Nothing has changed.

Well, after about three or four weeks of this, he talked me into going back to the mansion, and I went back and finished the campaign, which he lost because he had changed parties. David Duke beat him.
LAMB: And David Duke`s in jail today?
STROTHER: I don`t know if David Duke`s in jail or just -- he just got indicted. He was on the fringes of jail anyway. He deserves to be in jail.
LAMB: One of the things I remember about Buddy Roemer, because we cover the governors` conferences, is he always a had a book in his hand. And you talk about finding him all the time in a room by himself, reading a novel.
STROTHER: Oh, in our campaigns. In our campaign. Buddy believed that media was everything, that the candidate was almost inconsequential. And he would agree to go to one event at night and any debates that -- where the other candidates appeared, and one of event a night. And other than that, he sat in the back of the campaign headquarters and read novels -- mysteries.
LAMB: Where is he today?
STROTHER: Buddy`s in Baton Rouge. He owns a bank. He started -- some of his friends have started a bank, and I think he`s banking now. I haven`t seen him since -- I`ve not seen him nor spoken to him since 1991, when he lost the governorship.
LAMB: Let`s name all the people you`ve worked for.
STROTHER: Oh, my God! I can`t do that. It`s 300-something people. I don`t even remember some of them.
LAMB: But start with the ones that everybody will recognize.
STROTHER: OK. OK. Russell Long, which is -- who actually gave me my start in Washington, which is a wonderful story. Wonderful man. John Stennis, Dennis DeConcini, Max Baucus, Lloyd Bentsen, Gary Hart, Paul Simon, Bennett Johnston (ph), John Breaux, Jay Miller (ph)...
LAMB: Al Gore.
STROTHER: ... Al Gore, Bill Clinton. I could go -- I could go on and on. Those are the ones that I think most of the audience would remember or know.
LAMB: OK, I want to then jump to almost current day and go to your chapter in the middle, "Bill, Hillary, Al and the Gang."
LAMB: And your first sentence is, "I`m sorry I ever met Bill Clinton."
STROTHER: I`m sorry I ever met Bill Clinton. The last sentence of the book is, however, "I`m glad he was president." Now, it seems like a dichotomy, but personally, it was very damaging to be associated with Bill Clinton. First of all, as a media consultant, as a political consultant, I had virtually no control. Dick Morris really called all the shots in the campaign, and Clinton had absolute total confidence in Morris. And all I was doing was basically making pictures, although I thought Clinton and I were very, very good friends. I would go stay at the mansion, you know, go to dinner with -- the two of us would go off and eat Mexican food, and he would drink...
LAMB: What year?
STROTHER: Oh, `90.
LAMB: So it`s a long time ago, 13, 14 years.
LAMB: ... mean to interrupt, but...
STROTHER: No. No, that`s fine. Just before he was running for president. In fact, it was my chore -- or at least, the way I interpreted my chore. From `84, when I started representing him, until he ran for president, it was my chore to get him ready to run for president and present him in a light that he would be presidential material. That`s what I thought my chore was. And I think we did pretty well on that.

And our relationship ended the strangest way. I`d gone and I`d filmed Clinton, and I`d come back and I was in my office. And I got a call from a television station in Little Rock asking about a television spot number, the way we identify a television spot. And I said, That isn`t one of our numbers. I said, Are you sure? They said, yes. They said, Let me go check again. They said, Well, it`s done by Frank Greer (ph). I said, Frank Greer? I said, I don`t know what you`re talking about. So I called Bruce Lindsey. I said, Bruce, what`s going on? He said, Oh, nothing. Nothing`s going on. He said, Greer`s a great salesman. He came by with Dick Morris and just asked to make one free commercial for us. And that`s what you`re seeing. We`ll be back in business next week or the next.

Well, I`m still waiting. I guess I`m still under contract to Clinton, but that`s the last I ever heard of any of them. It`s -- so I didn`t get fired, I just got ignored.
LAMB: You talk a lot about the impact that Dick Morris has had on the business.
LAMB: Good or bad?
STROTHER: Bad. I think Dick Morris has been corrosive in our business. First of all, he set a bad example for new consultants coming up. It was -- you know, you can be a consultant for the money alone. You can go out with both hands open and grab money. Also, you can control people and you can switch parties and there`s no code of conduct or ethics, and you can do anything you want to do. Now, saying all that, Dick Morris is also one of the brightest political consultants I`ve ever met in my life. He is truly a genius. I put him in with Bill Hamilton and Pat Caddell, Peter Hart as true geniuses in our business. He just didn`t have the compass that these other guys had.
LAMB: Where did he come from?
STROTHER: Dick was a from New York City, a rent-controlled apartment overlooking Central Park. His father was a prominent New York real estate attorney, and his mother was a publisher. So he lived a very privileged life growing up on the streets of New York as an only child. Went to Columbia University and began working in political clubs in New York to get his background and used polling as his entree into the political business, although he knew nothing about polling. He would hire people like Penn and Schoen or someone to -- Dick Dresner. They would do his polling, and he would go deliver the polls as the pollster.
LAMB: But you have an episode in here -- it`s not new, but you have a situation where you had him on the phone and he was weeping.
STROTHER: Yes. Oh, yes, yes.
LAMB: What`s that story?
STROTHER: This is one of the -- this is a story that really conflicted me. Toward the end of my relationship with Clinton, Clinton was playing Hamlet. He couldn`t decide if he wanted to run for president or run for governor. And he knew if he ran for governor, he had to say that he wasn`t going to run for president. I mean, there was almost no question about that. So he was conflicted himself.

And we had a heated argument one night -- not argument, but a big discussion, about five of us in the room. It started about 10:00 o`clock at night and went to about 2:00 o`clock in the morning. And Clinton has a ferocious temper and finally was insulting to me. I felt insulted, anyway. Plus, I was tired. And I`m not good after about 11:00 o`clock at night anyway. I get up very early to write.

So I said, Governor, I`m too old to be spoken to like this. And I`m going to go to my hotel, and in the morning, we`ll meet again when we can civilly talk, and I`ll come back. And I got up and walked out, went to bed. I went to my hotel and went to bed.

And about, I don`t know, an hour later, the phone rings and it`s Dick Morris. He`s weeping -- Oh, my God. I said, What`s wrong, Dick? He said, Clinton beat me up. I said, Well, he beat me up, too, I said, but I got up and left. He said, I tried to do the same thing you did, but he beat me up. I said, What do you mean, Dick? He said, He knocked me to the floor and knocked me into a table, broke a lamp and was sitting on me, hitting me. And Hillary had to pull him off.

And he said, What should I do? I said, It`s simple, Dick. Get out of Little Rock immediately. He said, He owes me money. I said, Dick, I said, he owes me money, too, but I wouldn`t go back to the mansion. He`ll pay you the money. Clinton`s a very honorable man about money and all that. That`s -- there was never a question Clinton was going to pay his debt. He said, I don`t know. He said, I can`t do that.

So anyway, I knew at that point that Clinton was not going to sit and have a civil conversation with me the next morning, so I got up very early, went out and caught an airplane back to Washington. And Dick Morris went back to the mansion. He and Clinton sort of made up. But then when Clinton ran for president, he didn`t hire Dick Morris. In fact, he got rid of all of us. Everybody who had been around him before was removed. I don`t know if he did it or the first lady did it. I`m not sure, you know, who did it. But we were all removed.

And Morris needed Clinton. We all need a big name. Clinton becomes president without Morris, but Morris wants back in the White House. And I don`t blame him. You know, that`s the -- that`s the key to everything. You know, you get in the White House, and you become a superstar -- James Carville super, Lee Atwater superstar, Karl Rove superstar. So he wanted back in, but he had this problem that the press had written about him getting beaten up by Clinton.

Well, what he -- what he did was, he wrote a book about Clinton and blamed it on me, said that I`d leaked it to the press. Well, I hadn`t leaked it to the press. The press had called me about it to have me confirm it, and I wouldn`t confirm it.

In fact, I remember Tom Edsall (ph) called me one time, and he said, Will you confirm that you were with Dick Morris and that Dick Morris got beaten up? I said, No, I can`t confirm that. He said, You weren`t there? I said, No, I absolutely was not there. He said, But Dick Morris told you about. I said, I can`t confirm that. I said, If you write that I confirmed it, I will say you`re a liar, Tom. And he`s a friend of mine, you know. We play cards and everything together. And he didn`t -- he didn`t report my name in any way associated with Bill Clinton beating up Dick Morris.

But Morris did use that as a way to get back to Clinton, by blaming it on me. And I -- and Clinton and I have never spoken again.
LAMB: You write about Mrs. Clinton in your book. What do you think of her?
STROTHER: I think she`s brighter than him. I think she`s an incredibly bright woman -- very ambitious, which you have to be to achieve what she`s achieved and what she hopes to achieve, I`m sure. I`m a little ambivalent, tell you the truth. It`s not -- I don`t -- I`m not angry at anyone. I`m not angry at Bill Clinton. I`d love to sit down and have a -- have a cup of coffee with him and...

Hillary Clinton -- I don`t have any anger or feelings -- negative feelings about Hillary Clinton. She is what she is. He is what he is. Dick Morris is what he is. You know, we`re all driven by -- we all have different drives, and the Clintons had this ferocious drive to succeed, to be president. And she was part of that drive. You know, in summary, maybe a little too ambitious for me, I guess. That`s because I -- that`s maybe why I`m not terribly successful. I`m just -- I`m not ambitious enough.
LAMB: You call Al Gore in your book rude.
STROTHER: Al was a -- Al was a man who had never been told no. But let me also explain that I like Al Gore. I did his super-Tuesday race for president. I like him very much. I...
LAMB: What year did you do that?
LAMB: In `88.
STROTHER: I was called in to do super-Tuesday. They were having some difficulty in the campaign, and they thought I would be good in the South. And I was representing Lloyd Bentsen at the time for U.S. Senate. So I went to Bentsen and asked him. I said, Is it OK if I do this? He said, Well, yes and no. He said, You can do it, but after super-Tuesday, you must come home, back to Texas, and do my race. And my first loyalty was Bentsen. Bentsen is -- was very important to me in my life, just incredibly important, besides being a man I admire beyond comprehension.

So I went to work for Gore and was very successful with Gore. He performed well for me. I think my television was good for him. I found him very wooden, so I put him in human situations with oil, chemical and atomic union workers in Port Arthur, Texas, where I`d come from, where I still had some roots. So he talked to them, and I think I captured some nice Al Gore in the thing. And we got along fine.

And the only way he was rude is -- Al Gore didn`t grow up like I did. He`s never had to compromise, in many ways, except as a politician. You know, he went to St. Alban`s. His father`s a United States senator. And he would tend to be a little rude to someone like me, an underling. And one time in particular, I`d shot some commercials, and they were in my office. It was Saturday morning. And I had -- I always have a lot of interns, college interns. And I had three or four interns, and they would work on Saturday morning. And I was trying to sleep. I`d just come in from shooting film with Al Gore.

And I got a call from this girl who worked for me. She said -- she told me the reporter`s name -- I don`t remember who it was -- is here to see the Al Gore commercials. I said, Well, you can`t do that. They haven`t gone on the air yet. But the reporter came back again later, and there was another intern, who said, Oh, yes. They`re in here, and went and showed him the commercials. Well, they were to go on the next day or two days later -- I mean, almost immediately.

But the next morning, there was a story about it in "The New York Times," about Al Gore`s commercials, which is an awful thing to happen, you know, just a great breach of confidence, I think, for a political consultant to have that happen to them. And I don`t make any excuses for it. But Al called me, and he was irate. He was screaming at the top of his lungs. I didn`t know what he was talking about for a while, and finally understood it. And later apologized, but he was -- he could be very, very testy. He and Clinton both.
LAMB: Somebody said to me -- I told him I was going to interview you -- that they had talked to an unnamed political consultant who said about the book they were sorry to see you be critical of an industry that you`ve done so well in. What`s your reaction to that?
STROTHER: Look, there is nothing -- there`s no industry, there`s no individual beyond criticism. This industry is getting better and better. The political consulting industry`s getting better and better, and I think I`ve had something to do with it. I`m trying very hard. But you can`t excuse lapses of integrity in any profession -- medicine or in law or anything else.

This was a -- this was an industry that started out and was very small. When I moved to Washington, there were three media consultants, I think, Democratic media consultants in town. Now there are hundreds of them. And competition got very fierce. People got in the business who shouldn`t have been in the business. And I`m not criticizing the industry. What I`m asking for is I`m asking for them to have some ethical and professional considerations. That`s all.

I`m very proud of the business. I was president of the American Association of Political Consulting. I sit on the Ethics Committee now. We`re trying to do something, and we`re winning. We started an academic outreach program, where we bring college professors in and students to show them that they don`t have to be wild men. They don`t have to be Ali Baba and the thieves. They can be responsible people and make a living at this business.

So you know, I was -- I was sure that someone would -- would say something, but this isn`t all sweetness and light, you know? This business isn`t all good. There`s some bad in it. And what I was doing is, I was writing about the business through my eyes. And you can`t just overlook the bumps. You have to -- you have to talk about the good and the bad, if you`re going to be objective, and I try to be objective in the book. The book ends on a very positive note.
LAMB: How are consultants, political consultants, paid?
STROTHER: The standard started with the advertising agency standard, when we began. We`re paid a fee, and the fee varies according to the consultant. At one time, when Bob Squier and I and David Sawyer in New York were -- and a couple of other people were the only consultants around, media consultants, we charged $50,000 and 15 percent of the money spent on radio and television and -- and newspapers, whatever the advertising dollars were, 15 percent. So therefore, if someone spent a million dollars, we made $50,000 fee and $150,000 commission. We did the production, the television production, at cost from invoices.

That`s changed. It`s gotten very competitive, and now sometimes instead of 15 percent, the commission`s 10 percent. It`s negotiated with the campaign and sometimes the fee is $25,000 instead of $50,000, and I`ve known some people in this business, and that`s why I can be critical, who`ve actually given business away to get campaigns so they can lobby those same people later. You know, that -- I have a problem with that. Also, I have a problem with consultants who get into government. I don`t think we belong there.
LAMB: Are you still active?
STROTHER: Sure, I`m active.
LAMB: Full-time?
STROTHER: No, I`m not full-time. I`m doing a lot of writing, and I do a couple of campaigns a year, but I`m full-time of counsel to my firm, yes.
LAMB: You were born where?
STROTHER: Port Arthur, Texas.
LAMB: What year?
STROTHER: In 1940. I`m 62.
LAMB: Where did you go to college?
STROTHER: Went to -- started out at a place called Northwestern State, on a track scholarship. Looking at me now, you couldn`t tell, but I was a miler and a two-miler. And I got kicked out of there for demonstrating against the John Birch Society. I was told to leave. And so I went to LSU, where they embraced me, and I got a master`s degree in journalism there and English.
LAMB: Why are you a Democrat?
STROTHER: I`m a Democrat because I grew up in a union household. My father had a 4th grade education, 3rd or 4th grade education. He was always a little vague on that. And I was taught that poor people like us were powerless and voiceless and our only recourse, our only possibility was through politics, that if we could band together and strength through numbers, elect people, they would have to listen to us.

And I was a Democrat because I thought the Democrats -- my father taught me that Democrats stood for people like us, poor people. That`s where Social Security came from and Medicare and Medicaid and a lot of the programs that have made life possible for people like my father and later for me. I`m a Democrat because I just think they care more -- they have always cared more about people.
LAMB: You have a place in Montana. When did you get that? And what do you do there?
STROTHER: I have a -- I have a couple places in Montana, but in 1987, I bought some land in Montana on the Big Hole River. I`m a trout fisherman. That`s one of my hobbies and the Big Hole River outside of Wisdom and Wise River, Montana, is one of the great trout rivers in America.

And, I bought 40 acres there in 1987, was working on the Gary Hart presidential race, was killing time, and I had my airplane at Red Rock`s Park and Hart was announced and I covered the announcement.

I filmed it and after I filmed the announcement, I flew up to Montana and just accidentally found this piece of land and bought it and built a log home on it. That was in `87. Well, as of this last June my wife and I also finished a full home in Bozeman, Montana, overlooking the university there.
LAMB: You talk about having your own airplane. What kind is it or was it and -
STROTHER: I sold it. I had a horrific experience in Alaska and decided I`d flown enough. But I had about 3,000 instrument hours of flying. I had a Moony (ph) 231 - 252. I had a 231, then a 252. It`s a new airplane I just settled but it`s a single engine plane that will fly 250 miles an hour at 28,000 feet and it was a splendid thing.

I enjoyed it. So I`m beginning to miss it again because I got out of flying because I thought I was going to kill myself because I was getting a little careless with my flying.
LAMB: I want to run some videotape. This is the - it starts with Huey Long but if we just run a little bit of it I`ll get you to explain what it is from earlier. (VIDEOTAPE PLAYED)
LAMB: Ray Strother, what are we watching?
STROTHER: You`re watching some footage of Huey Long. That`s at LSU. These are just snippets I found in an old film archive in California of Huey Long. What I was trying to do with this film was reestablish the relationship between Huey Long and Russell Long, his son.

Russell Long had been in the Senate a long time. People no longer knew that he was kin to Huey strangely enough, and suddenly Huey was an icon again. T. Harry Williams had written a great biography called "Huey" and it was good. Bill Willams said it would be good to reestablish the link between the two men.

So, I found this archive footage and what was interested it didn`t have sound and Long`s very able administrative assistant, a guy named Chris Kirkpatrick (ph) in the attic of the Russell Building found some 78-speed records that were very thick and brought them to me and the first one crumbled in my hands.

So, I took the rest of them to Smithsonian, had them dubbed off. It turned out it was the first campaign speech of Huey Long running for president and in that campaign speech was this song.

And, what was interesting if you`ll look later it seems that Huey is singing the song but he`s not. It was just a stroke of great luck that when I played the record and played the film of Huey they looked like they were in sync, just another miracle.

This film was very, very important. It ushered me into Washington in a big way. In late 1980, Long said come to Washington. I want to show this to my friends and he brought in the Senators from all over and showed it to them.
LAMB: When I first looked at this, I thought that was actually Russell Long because he`s in my era, you know, in the last -
STROTHER: They look so much alike, yes.
LAMB: This was a 30-minute documentary.
STROTHER: Thirty minute documentary, yes.
LAMB: And why did this make such a big difference in your career?
STROTHER: Well, it gave me attention. You know I was a southerner. I was from Texas and Louisiana and there is a southern certain stigma to being a southerner and there still is. People deny it but there`s sort of a glass ceiling.

Because of your accent people think you`re probably barefoot and a little ignorant and it`s hard to break into national politics out of Louisiana. It`s very difficult and this film showed that I had some talent and people looked at it and they said wow, you know. I`d like to talk to this guy. So, immediately I was hired by Lloyd Bentsen and Dennis DeConcini and Paul Simon and a host of others and it gave me my first break in Washington.
LAMB: In the middle of this documentary, I`m just going to take a little clip out of it because you see something that I`m not even sure you would see today. It`s a couple of guys sitting on a couch. Let`s roll it and I`ll ask you about it.


Senator Robert Dole – R - Kansas: Saying something good about Russell Long isn`t hard for me to do and the way he works for the people in his state I think we all marvel at his ability to do that in the Finance Committee. I`m a Republican. Pat`s a Democrat.

Senator Patrick Moynihan – D – New York: Well, you know, the Senate is the embodiment of the principle of the state in the American Constitution and it`s not just a slogan, "State`s Rights to Russell Long," it`s the day`s work. There is not a day goes by that that issue doesn`t come up in Finance and somehow state`s rights often turns out to be the rights of the state of Louisiana. Have you noticed that?


LAMB: Now, both of those gentlemen really weren`t on the same page with Russell Long. What was -
STROTHER: Isn`t that a miracle?
LAMB: Well, what was Bob Dole doing endorsing a Democrat?
STROTHER: Incredible. What that is, is an example of what was compared to what is. The Senate at one time was a completely different institution. I learned about the Senate from these two guys, Moynihan and Dole, of course, but from John Stennis and Lloyd Bentsen.

They were a group of people who admired and respected each other, and Dole found out that I was filming Moynihan, walked by the room, said hey would you like to film me saying something about Russell Long, that`s an easy thing to do, and came in the room and sat down next to Moynihan, and I saw that as a great opportunity. But it just shows the difference in the violent partisanship that exists now and the camaraderie that existed in the late `70s and early `80s.
LAMB: Which is more honest?
STROTHER: Which is better for America was the way it was not the way it is.
LAMB: Why?
STROTHER: Because it wasn`t all vitriolic. It wasn`t - you know Alan Simpson told me something interesting one time. I was at Harvard. I was a fellow at Harvard and he was the director of the Institute of Politics and no one can deny his Republican roots. He`s as Republican as you can get.

But he told me something interesting that I`ll never forget. He said the reason he left the Senate is when they have caucus meetings they wanted to talk about how to get Bill Clinton rather than what was good for the country, you know how they could trip Bill Clinton up, how they could embarrass Bill Clinton.

He said that`s not how you run America and I admired and respected him for saying that but I think that also is an illustration of what`s wrong with politics today in America.
LAMB: You did a commercial, a political commercial, about Social Security. Before we show it, I want you to tell the story of how you got there.
STROTHER: Well, I was shooting Lloyd Bentsen commercials in Texas and had a big New York crew together and Bentsen is a very precise man.
LAMB: When was this in his career?
STROTHER: 1982, I`m sorry.
LAMB: What was he doing then?
STROTHER: He was running for reelection in the Senate and he had - his opponent was a guy named Collins, a Congressman, a Republican Congressman.
LAMB: Jim Collins?
STROTHER: Jim Collins from Dallas. And, one of the issues was Social Security as it had been for a long time and I had a commercial written that was a very presentable commercial with Bentsen looking into a camera talking about Social Security.

But it bothered me. There was no passion to it. It was a purely, I`d say a commercial completely driven by numbers that I`d written rather than their motions. So, it bothered me. For days it bothered me.

So, one night I came in from shooting. I was sitting at the bar at the Hyde Hotel in San Antonio and I was drawing on a cocktail napkin and all of a sudden I knew what I wanted to say. I knew how I wanted to portray Social Security.

And, a college kid came in, an intern, and he said what are you doing Mr. Ray? I said look at this picture and it was on a cocktail napkin. It was a house with a winding gravel drive with a windmill in the back and a mailbox in the foreground.

I said can you find that for me? He said for a couple of Lone Star beers. I said well sit down. This was about midnight and I said I only have an hour, hour and a half to shoot this because you don`t change schedule for Bentsen. You don`t tell Bentsen - you don`t admit failure. You don`t - I mean he was a very precise guy and things moved like clockwork.

So, I couldn`t make him wait half an hour so I knew I had an hour and a half during lunch. Nobody could eat lunch but I had to shoot what I wanted to shoot. So, next morning this college kid came and I was on location someplace else. He said I found your location.

So, while the camera was setting up they drove me to it and it was perfect. It looked like my cocktail napkin, a house in the background, a windmill, a gravel drive, but no mailbox. I said well Day, the guy`s name was Day Cable (ph). I said where`s the mailbox? He said it`s coming.

By that time a pickup truck comes up, has a mailbox in it, has somebody`s name on it. They start digging a post hole. I said where did you get that mailbox? He said down the road. I said that`s a federal offense.

He said we`re not going to hurt it. We`re going to put it back but then they were painting it silver. I said but the people come home, their mailbox will be there but it will be painted. He said look how much prettier it will be when they get home.

So, anyway, that was the setup for the commercial and then I had to have two women, a woman, so they brought me two old women and I interviewed them and gave them both $100 but kept one of them and sent the other one away and gave her instructions. Do you want me to tell what? Do you want me to say what I or do you want to watch the commercial now?
LAMB: No, you go ahead and tell us.
STROTHER: OK, what I told her was, I said look you`re a 75-year-old woman, which she was, and I said you depend on Social Security for your livelihood. She said I do. I said OK. Here`s what I want you to do. I want you to go to the house, come out, walk up the drive to the mailbox, look in the mailbox, look down the road as though you are looking for the postman, shake your head, close the mailbox, walk back to the house.

That`s all you have to do. So, she did that and I couldn`t film it but two times because we didn`t have any time. I had to rush off to Bentsen and the resulting commercial ended up playing in about 40 states and it was used by a lot of Democrats that year.
LAMB: How long is the commercial?
STROTHER: Thirty seconds, 29 seconds.
LAMB: And, again what year -
STROTHER: And a disaster was even associated at that point after I went to produce it. I had a lot of trouble with this commercial which is a great story too but it was a 28 second commercial. I didn`t shoot the other Lloyd Bentsen Social Security commercial and gambled greatly because he looked at me and he said - he trusted you.

If you worked for Bentsen, you had his absolute confidence or you didn`t work for him. He looked at me and said you don`t want me to do the Social Security commercial? I said no, I don`t, Senator. I think I have something better. He said OK. I mean this is how Bentsen operated. But if I wouldn`t have had something better I suspect I`d have been back in Louisiana representing city councilmen.
LAMB: Well, let`s watch this 28-second commercial and then I`ll get the rest of the story.
ANNOUNCER: What if the checks stopped? What if the Republicans finally won their battle against Social Security? All that stands in their way is a group of tough Democrats who understand and care. But the fight will continue next year and the next. It`s another good reason to vote Democratic.
LAMB: You say the Republicans have gotten better with dealing with that.
STROTHER: Yes, they`ve gotten a lot better. You know they`ve looked at polls. Polls have changed everything. Polling has brought both parties to the center. Everybody plays safe now.

The Republicans are now very pro Social Security where they`ve always been against Social Security. They`re now very pro Department of Education where they were always against the Department of Education, and the Democrats have done the same thing. Polling has taught us to play safe and so both parties sort of moved to the center in the non-dangerous zone.
LAMB: Now, what happened to get this commercial on? I know there was a crazy last minute deal there.
STROTHER: It`s one of the stories I should be in my grave someplace from heart trouble. At the time - technology has changed everything in this country. It`s amazing. What I`m doing in my office now I had to do in the film studio in New York on Ninth Avenue until about `85.

I took the film, the raw footage, and rushed to New York with it under my arm, and edited it. When you edit film, Brian, and you`ve probably been around this too but you have a negative, a film negative that`s sterile and it can only be touched with white gloves in a sterile environment.

So, you have a slop print made of that. It`s just a rough, uncorrected print made of it and it has numbers. Then you lock the negative up in a safe, secure place and you make commercials out of the slop print.

You literally tape it together and where you want it to dissolve, you put a piece of masking tape to dissolve, and then you send it to a film cutter, very highly specialized person and they take the original negative in a sterile environment and they piece it together exactly the way you had it pieced together on the slop print. I know it`s technical but it means something in this discussion.

Well, I couldn`t get anyone to cut my negative and I had to go on the air in two days and I couldn`t find anyone to cut the negative. And, I had a woman named Noel Penrat (ph) who was a great film cutter and she had done a lot of my work. She had done the Russell Long film and I tried to get her and she said look, this town is filled with movies. They`re shooting movies everywhere and every film cutter is busy. I have no time at all.

So, I said I`ll double your pay. No. I`ll triple your pay. No. I`ll quadruple your pay. Yes. So, I took the negative to her and the slop print and the next day picked it up, ran it to a television studio.

Now, what we would do then is we`d put the negative in a machine that would transfer it to videotape so the commercial is now cut and all we have to do is put in the "paid for" lines and the "vote Democratic" that you saw on that. That`s all we had to do.

So, the guy threaded it through the transfer machine and turned on the switch and it stopped. He said what? Went and looked and there was a piece of masking tape on the negative that said dissolve. He said how the heck did that happen? I said I don`t know.

He pulled it off and it left a sandstorm of white dots. So, he took a Q-tip and some alcohol and started working on per dot per dot per dot and the clock is ticking. It`s getting close to midnight. About midnight he gets that dissolve cleaned up and turns the machine back on, same thing happens again.

Every place the film has been cut, every piece, and a 30-second commercial can have as many as 20 splices in it, every splice had a sandstorm where this tape and we were cleaning them all night. All night we cleaned them, all night.

And finally, we got a commercial, got it cleaned and transferred it to tape but all I could see and the viewers just looked at this and maybe they didn`t see it, but it`s like a sandstorm. You can see these flakes of white, or I can. Maybe other people can`t see it as readily.
LAMB: Right in the middle of this you can see it?
STROTHER: Right there. Yes, right there you can see it. I can see it. It just drove me crazy and I said, oh my God. Bentsen is going to fire me. You can see them, see them flash through the woman`s face. That`s the tape.

So, I haven`t slept in two days, three days, and I get the finished spot and I don`t have any choice and I get on a Delta plane from LaGuardia. I make the plane by about 30 seconds. That`s when you could still do that, beat on the door and they`d open it for you.

And, flew to Atlanta, and rushed from one terminal to another. This was the old Atlanta terminal just before they opened the new one, went into a phone booth that we don`t see anymore, closed the door, called the campaign manager, Jack Martin in Austin. I said I`ve got the commercials. I`m on my way. Have you got everything set up?

Well, we didn`t have portable video equipment at the time, you know. The three-quarter-inch video machines weighed 100 pounds, so you had to rent one and have a place, have it hooked up and all, so it was a big deal. It isn`t like it is now.

So, anyway, I said I`ll be there. I gave him the time. He said OK, Bentsen is coming in at 2:00 with Mrs. Bentsen to see it. I said great. Ran, got on the Delta plane, got to about 20,000 feet in first class but I was asleep, woke up out of a sound sleep, said oh my God.

I left the commercial, the negative and everything in the phone booth. There was nothing. It was all there. Everything was there. I couldn`t go back and recreate it. And so, I ran to the front of the plane and started beating on the cockpit door, which now will get you shot because they carry guns.

But I was beating on the cockpit door and the co-pilot came out and this crazed man was standing there screaming he left the commercial for Bentsen in the Atlanta airport, and he got on the radio and found it.

They found my commercial and I told them, I said tell them to send it on the next plane to Austin, which turned out to be an American plane I think. I don`t remember exactly through Dallas, which was going to arrive ten minutes or 15 minutes before Bentsen was supposed to walk in to look at the commercial.

I said tell them to hire a courier and I`ll give the courier $500 if he gets it there in 15 minutes. So, I go to Austin. I go the Four Seasons Hotel where they set up a room for us to look at this commercial, a conference room, and the TV set is there and Jack Martin says where`s the commercial?

I said it`s on the way, Jack, and I told him the story. Well, Texans kind of know not to show their whole card. He didn`t show any emotion at all. He just kind of looked sadly at me like it was really nice knowing you.

And, I heard Bentsen coming down the hall, talking to Mrs. Bentsen, and a guy stopped him, named Bristol (ph), George Bristol, who raised money for them, photographer, all around good guy, stopped him outside and started a conversation with him that lasted almost ten minutes.

Just before Bentsen opened the door the courier ran through, just sweaty and hot, put the film in my hands, the tape in my hands. I handed him five $100 bills. He rushed out. I put it in but I couldn`t watch it because I knew the snowstorm was coming. I didn`t want Bentsen to - I just didn`t know what to think.

So, I put it in. It ran. Bentsen, a very stoic guy, said run it again. They ran it again. He said one more time. They ran it again. I said oh my God. He stood up and said Raymond, great work, walked out and I just sort of collapsed. It was a trying moment.
LAMB: At some point in your career you did a spot for Martha Lane Collins governor of Kentucky.
LAMB: Was she governor yet?
STROTHER: No, no. She was running for governor.
LAMB: What were the circumstances?
STROTHER: Well, she was in a race against Harvey Sloan, the mayor of Louisville, who was a fine public servant, a Democrat, handled by her friend Doug Bailey (ph) who was a good friend of mine.
LAMB: A Republican?
STROTHER: A Republican but Doug would do Democratic governors and he and Sloan I think had been college roommates or something anyway. But anyway, Martha Lane was running. It was a very, very close race in the primary. At that time, it didn`t matter about the general because once a Democrat won in Kentucky in `83, it was over. The Republicans didn`t count for much then.

So, we had to have votes from the eastern part of the state which was coal mining region and coal, of course, the production of coal in Kentucky and West Virginia is very big, a very big political issue.

So, we wanted to do a commercial in the coal mine so we arranged with some unions and a coal mine to allow us to go into their mine and film a commercial. Well, I had never been in a coal mine.

First of all, you had to lie down in this little tiny car that goes about 40 miles an hour down a little shaft that`s about four feet tall and you`re lying flat and if you`re claustrophobic, I am a little claustrophobic, it`s terrifying.

Then you get to the coal mine and we stepped out of the car and the coal mine is white, white. I said white coal? And they said no. As we did we spray a retardant so it can`t catch fire. It`s a fire retardant. And they had a machine with big teeth on it.

I said well you got to get me a new coal mine. So, they dug me a coal mine. They dug about 20 feet of coal out and it took about, I don`t know, one minute to dig all this out.

I put lights up and all and Martha Lane Collins is a beautiful woman, just beautiful woman, and she was standing with two, I think two women or I don`t remember the sexual makeup but some women and men, coal miners, and they were pretty grubby looking as coal miners should be but she was beautiful and sparkling and freshly made up and it looked bad.

I mean it looked too obvious. It looked too contrived. So, I told my makeup person, I said go put some coal dust on her. So, she went on one cheek put some coal dust and we shot a couple of hours in the coal mine, wanted to make sure because it`s very difficult to shoot in a black environment. I wanted to make sure I had everything, so we shot a lot of film.

And, we finished the commercial and the commercials were very pretty. I was very proud of them. We focus group tested them. The focus group is where there`s a mirror and some people hired or brought in and paid by the pollster normally, randomly selected, to sit in a room and look at the commercials and we talk to them and sort of see what they think about things.

Well, I was sitting on the other side of the mirror and I think Bill Hamilton is the pollster, who is now deceased, was the moderator or leader and he was sitting with the people and they`re showing the commercials.

When they got to the commercial in the coal mine, this woman would nudge her partner and whisper and it disrupted the whole thing, and I said what`s going on? Well, you always do two groups. You don`t just do one group. You do two groups to make sure that there isn`t a leader or somebody who takes command of the group and gives you a distorted view.

So, we did the second group. At that moment, the same thing happened again. Women started talking among themselves. So, Hamilton said what happened back there ladies? Why did you start talking among yourselves? They said a pretty woman would never allow herself to be photographed with coal dust on her cheeks.

Well, the commercial was wrecked. We spent about $20,000 making it. It was wrecked. So, I went back in the files and found shots from one side of her face, the side that didn`t have the coal dust. I could only shoot - if you saw the commercial, you see the commercial being profile mostly because she has coal dust on her cheek and we can`t show it.
LAMB: Let`s watch the one that didn`t run.
LAMB: Martha Lane Collins.
ANNOUNCER: Three miles from daylight, hard work, but these, these are the lucky ones. They have jobs. Martha Lane Collins went into the mine and she found worried workers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:Some of them has been out of work as long as two years. I don`t guess they even get unemployment or anything really. I don`t even know how they make it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His insurance has done run out. He`s got three small kids, you know.

ANNOUNCER: She`s developed a plan that will increase job opportunities in mining, tourism, farming, manufacturing, and small business. The Martha Lane Collins plan is available at her headquarters because she wants you to know where she stand on the issues.

MARTHA LANE COLLINS: Everybody has hopes and dreams for their families. You want to provide things for your families, for your children, and we want to make that a reality.

ANNOUNCER: Martha Lane Collins, Governor.
STROTHER: You`re right about that. I didn`t know that commercial existed. You`ve called my office and wanted a commercial sent over and they used the first rather than the second version. It`s very interesting. I did not know we still had the version with the coal on the cheek.
LAMB: Do you think it ever ran?
STROTHER: No. No, it never ran. The one that ran was the one that shot her in profile where you could only see the clean side of the face.
LAMB: Whose voice was that? We hear that all -
STROTHER: Alan Blevis.
LAMB: Is he still around?
STROTHER: Yes. Alan Blevis did Bill Clinton, last time Bill Clinton ran, and he`s still doing races. I was the first political consultant to ever use Alan Blevis` voice for politics and he`s just a great, great announcer. He does everything here and all over the place.
LAMB: Do you test these announcers for their acceptability?
STROTHER: You know I don`t really test them. I know the feel I`m looking for, like I know if I want a Burgess Meredith sort of voice or if I want a certain kind of voice. On the Russell Long film, I wanted a documentary type voice. I went to a guy named Ed Rose (ph). So, I listen to voices. Sometimes I listen to 100 voices to come up with the voice I think is appropriate for the material.
LAMB: We only have a minute. Did you discover James Carville (ph)?
STROTHER: I didn`t discover James. James was an attorney and I hired him to go to work in our political consulting firm in Louisiana and he worked for us for a while and then he went off on his own. But discover him, no, he was - James discovered himself.
LAMB: What do you think of his impact?
STROTHER: I think he`s made a major impact on the business, some good, some bad. I think he`s made the media consultant more a star, media star, than they probably need to be.
LAMB: Why?
STROTHER: Well, I think we should be behind the scenes. I don`t think we should govern. I think we should help people get elected and they should govern. We should stay out of the way and I think when you mix the two it`s probably bad for the process.
LAMB: What`s the worst thing political consultants do today in your opinion?
STROTHER: Govern. When they go in and help the candidate or the elected person make decisions on how to vote, looking forward to the next election, I think that`s really bad.
LAMB: Our guest has been Raymond D. Strother, political consultant. His book is called "Falling Up" published by Louisiana State University.
Copyright National Cable Satellite Corporation 2003. Personal, noncommercial use of this transcript is permitted. No commercial, political or other use may be made of this transcript without the express permission of National Cable Satellite Corporation.