Long time Clinton backer James Carville charged on Thursday that, prior to endorsing Sen. Barack Obama, Bill Richardson promised several "very, very senior" Clinton supporters that he would back the New York Democrat.
Carville said the matter was "terribly mishandled" by Richardson and that the New Mexico governor owed Clinton supporters an apology.
Appearing on CNN's Larry King Live, Carville was asked to explain why, in the aftermath of Richardson's endorsement, he referred the New Mexico Governor as Judas, selling his political soul for 30 pieces of silver.
"He made misrepresentations," said the raging Cajun. "He told people he was going to endorse Senator Clinton, that he couldn't endorse someone else. And at the same time, apparently, he was doing something else, and people are justifiably and understandably furious about this. I have never attacked any other supporter of Senator Obama. Many of them are dear friends of mine. Some of them are some of my best friends. I thought this was an exceptional case that merited special consideration."
Carville's appearance on CNN represents the deepest elaboration yet on his Richardson remark. The former Bill Clinton aide and frequent CNN contributor had described Richardson's endorsement of Obama as "an act of betrayal," appropriate for the week of Easter. Asked about the comment in the days that followed, Carville simply stated that he had been quoted accurately. On Thursday night, he provided greater context.
Richardson, he said, had been making promises to the Clinton folks as recently as "a month ago." And, as evidence, he named names of those who had been given assurances, including prominent Clinton fundraisers Elizabeth Bagley, Haim Saban, and Alan Patricof.
"My phone has been ringing off the hook with people," said Carville, "donors in the Democratic Party, telling me that he made representations to them that are not true.... I think what the governor needs to do is say that he hasn't handled this very well, he's not candid and frank with people, and I think this whole thing will go away. But I think he owes a lot of people in this party an apology."
Richardson, at the time of this publication, could not be reached for comment. But he did have a defender on the CNN program. Michael Eric Dyson, an Obama supporter, cautioned both the host as well as Carville to put the endorsement into a lighter perspective.
"I think we're making too much of this," he said. "I can understand the disappointment that has come as a result, in the aftermath of Governor Richardson's decision, but to single him out with such venom, and with such lack of balance, on both sides. This is a bitterly contested war, so to speak, and they are going after anybody they can. Obama has lost and won some, in terms of endorsements. To single this out as the extraordinary act of a Judas, misses the point that we're here, talking about the best future for American, and what it should suggest to those who are looking on is that, here was a man that was deeply committed to the Clintons but there was something about Obama that caused him to change his mind, and to cast his fate, so to speak, with Obama. That should create pause for those who consider Clinton."