Paul Begala

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Paul Begala
Paul Begala by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Paul Begala, 2012
Born Paul Edward Begala
(1961-05-12) May 12, 1961 (age 58)
New Jersey
Nationality American
Education University of Texas at Austin (BA, JD)
Occupation Political consultant, political commentator
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Diane Friday

Paul Edward Begala (born May 12, 1961) is an American political consultant and political commentator. He was an adviser to President Bill Clinton. Begala was a chief strategist for the 1992 Clinton–Gore campaign, which carried 33 states and made Clinton the first Democrat to win the White House in twelve years. As counselor to the President in the Clinton White House, he coordinated policy, politics, and communications.

Along with James Carville, Begala gained national prominence as the political consulting team Carville and Begala. Until June 2005, Begala was a co-host of CNN's political debate program Crossfire. He is an Affiliated Professor of Public Policy at Georgetown University's McCourt School of Public Policy. Currently, he is teaching at the University of Georgia School of Law as a Sanders Political Leadership Scholar.

Early life and education

He was born in New Jersey to an Irish American mother, Margaret "Peggy" (née Cass), and a Hungarian American father, David Begala. He was raised in Missouri City, Texas, where his father was an oil-field equipment salesman.[2][3] In 1979, Begala graduated from Dulles High School in Sugar Land, Texas.

He earned both his Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctor from the University of Texas at Austin, where he taught briefly. While at the University of Texas, Begala was a candidate for student government president. However, he finished second to a write-in campaign for Hank the Hallucination, a character from the campus comic strip Eyebeam. Following his loss, Begala wrote a tongue-in-cheek complaint for the Daily Texan, arguing "I cannot help but feel Hank's platform is illusory at best...I must say that the candidate himself lacks substance". Begala was declared the human winner, following a ruling that imaginary characters could not hold the position.[4]


Begala, along with business partner James Carville, helped then-Governor of Arkansas Clinton win the 1992 presidential election. Begala was a chief strategist for the 1992 Clinton–Gore campaign. Clinton carried 33 states and became the first Democrat elected President since 1976. Begala served as a counselor to the President in the Clinton White House, where he coordinated policy, politics, and communications. Begala is a CNN political commentator and a research professor of public policy at Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute.

Aside from the 1992 presidential election, Begala and Carville have had other well-known political victories including the 1991 Pennsylvania U.S. Senate victory of Harris Wofford, the 1988 re-election campaign of incumbent New Jersey U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg, and the gubernatorial victories of Robert Casey in Pennsylvania in 1986, Wallace G. Wilkinson in Kentucky in 1987, and Zell Miller in Georgia in 1990.

Before becoming a co-host of Crossfire, Begala co-hosted a show, Equal Time, with Oliver North on MSNBC. He also was a contributor to John F. Kennedy, Jr.'s political magazine George in the late 1990s.

As an author and co-author, Begala has written five political books: Is Our Children Learning?: The Case Against George W. Bush; Buck Up, Suck Up and Come Back When You Foul Up (with James Carville); It's Still the Economy Stupid; and Third Term: Why George W. Bush (Hearts) John McCain. Begala still keeps on hand a pocket New Testament he received from Brother Jed in the 1970s.

He was an early supporter of Hillary Clinton during the 2008 presidential primaries. However, after she dropped out of the race, he became a backer of Barack Obama.

On January 12, 2008, Begala appeared on NPR's radio show Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, playing the game Not My Job. He won by answering two out of three questions correctly.

Begala was a consultant in the service of mortgage lender Freddie Mac, an arrangement that ended in September 2008.[5]

Looking back at his career and the U.S. political scene, Begala has remarked that a "presidential campaign is like a film. It never comes together until it’s scored and tracked".[6]

Personal life

Begala and his wife, Diane Friday, have four sons. They currently live in Virginia.[7] Begala is Roman Catholic.[1]


Co-authored with James Carville

  • Buck Up, Suck Up... and Come Back When You Foul Up: 12 Winning Secrets from the War Room, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002. ISBN 0-7432-2422-1
  • Take It Back: Our Party, Our Country, Our Future, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006. ISBN 0-7432-7752-X


  1. 1.0 1.1
  2. Grove, Lloyd (November 5, 1992). "Nailing the Lid on the GOP; Clinton Strategist Paul Begala Learned His Politics at the Hardware Store". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 28, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. [1]
  4. SG helps foster future leaders, The Daily Texan, April 19, 2004; accessed February 5, 2008.
  5. Calmes, Jackie; Kirkpatrick, David D. "McCain Aide’s Firm Was Paid by Freddie Mac", New York Times, September 23, 2008; accessed November 8, 2008.
  7. Halperin, Mark; David Chalian, Teddy Davis, Sarah Baker, Jonathan Greenberger, Katie Hinman, Emily O'Donnell, Mike Westling, Dan Nechita. "The Note: Gang of 1", ABC News, February 15, 2006.

External links