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“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- November 16, 2014


(Providence, Rhode Island) – So last week’s election was a big win for the GOP on the national stage. Or was it? Elections are funny things, and they aren’t always what they seem. Yes, they can be short-term successes, but they can also bite you and set up long-term failure. So what seemed like a Republican slam dunk on Election Day could be short-lived. Let’s brunch on how “losers become winners” this week:

“Herbert Hoover” – The bit of trivia being passed on in the Republicans' landslide victory on November 4 is that the party will have the largest membership in the House of Representatives since Herbert Hoover was elected President in 1928. That may be true, but when the Great Depression hit in 1929, that was the end of Hoover and the GOP. Hoover was defeated in 1932, and the Republicans did not win the White House again for another 20 years. Over the next 58 years, Democrats ruled the House all but four years.
Now I am not predicting a repeat of history; I am only pointing out how quickly fortunes can turn.

“Hillary Clinton” – A backlash against the GOP can only help Hillary Clinton, should she run for President. If things go bad over the next two years, people can blame a) the Republican-led Congress; b) President Obama; or c) both! Since Clinton has been out of public office since 2012, her fingerprints have disappeared from public policy and politics, though there will still be lingering questions about her role (or lack of one) in the September 11, 2012, terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Still, politics remains a “What have you done for me lately?” arena, and since she has been out for four years, Hillary can deflect a lot of the critics. Caution: Trying to run as a complete “outsider” might be tempting for her, but would seem ridiculous.

“Buddy Cianci” – I was covering the two-time Providence Mayor – and two-time convicted felon - on Election Day, as he came close to winning an unprecedented third stint in the Mayor’s office. People have asked me: “Was he sad? Was he depressed when he realized he lost?” Quite the contrary! I think he felt relieved and redeemed that nearly half the city voted for him. He was back on the radio the next day and back on his TV show this past Monday. Many thought he would take a long vacation, but the 73-year-old cancer patient was back doing “combat” on the airwaves. People love him or hate him, but he remains a voice of political influence – if not in elective office, then on the air. He didn’t lose a beat, and his opinion carries weight, even if not from a political office. Fascinating!

“Bill Clinton ‘96” – Maybe the craftiest politician I have ever seen in my life is Bill Clinton. He upset incumbent George H.W. Bush in 1992, only to have a disastrous legislative agenda his first two years in office. The backlash against him was so strong that Republicans swept both chambers of Congress in 1994 for the first time in 40 years. Instead of being a beaten dog, Clinton co-opted much of the Republican agenda with which he agreed and passed a crime bill; passed welfare reform; passed the Telecommunications Act; and joined with the GOP in balancing the first federal budgets in decades. The political “Kumbaya” ended with his impeachment, but his success after the crushing defeat his party had suffered was one of the great political “Houdini” acts of my lifetime. Well played, and people love him for it to this day!

“Immigration Reform” – This may be the issue with which political losers may try to transform into winners. It’s also where compromise and accommodation have to meet and create strange political bedfellows. Look for a patchwork bill that is seemingly at odds with itself. It will need tough border fences and deportation requirements to appease conservatives; and it will need genuine and - in some cases - generous amnesty for certain groups (i.e. the “Dream Act” kids), to gain citizenship, to help appease liberals. The bill will simultaneously have to make Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) look like a hero (boosting his White House chances) while, at the same time, it makes President Obama look like King Solomon as the “Compromiser-in-Chief!” Hillary Clinton – as an outsider without a vote - like Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) – will have to spin their own likes and dislikes. Campaign 2016 is in full swing right now!

“Jimmy Carter vs. Richard Nixon” – There have been ten U.S. Presidents in my lifetime, but these two probably rank at the bottom in popularity and public approval for their respective parties. Both left office under very unpopular circumstances and public records – one through a landslide defeat and the other through a looming impeachment scandal. Yet, both repaired their public images and are remembered substantially more favorably these days. How? Both did it through painful political candor, authoring numerous books, and through revealing public interviews that gave us a deep insight into their minds and their public administrations - for good and for ill. You have to remember: In 238 years, only 43 men have occupied the Oval Office. What they tell us in candor is insightful and instructive. The world holds these two in much higher esteem today than on the days each left office.

“Gerald Ford” – In between Nixon and Carter, there was President Gerald Ford (all three seen in a rare joint photo above). Ford is the only President not directly elected by the people. He was wildly unpopular after succeeding and then pardoning Nixon. He then lost his reelection bid against Carter in a close 1976 Presidential campaign. But public opinion would later turn toward Ford. While many objected to his pardon of Nixon in 1974, by the time of his death in 2006, most Americans felt he spared the nation an agonizing and paralyzing impeachment of Nixon. Ford died a hero - not a goat!

What are your predictions? Can this year’s political losers be tomorrow’s political winners? Anything can happen in the wacky world of politics! Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2014 MarkCurtisMedia. LLC

Photo courtesy: National Archives

“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- November 9, 2014


(Providence, Rhode Island) – Yay!!! Election Day is over. That’s the good news! The bad news: Campaign 2016 starts today!!!! There is a lot to digest, so let’s “brunch” on that this week!

“Predictions, Predictions, Predictions!” – So how did I do? Last week I predicted the Republicans would pick up a net gain of five seats in the Senate; seven seats in the House; and one Governorship. The final results appear to have the Republicans up seven in the Senate (with one race to be decided); up 13 seats in the House; and, plus two in the Governor’s mansions. So I chose to be conservative in my predictions - which, oddly enough, is what the nation did at the ballot box (pardon the pun).

“The Early Bird Gets the Worm?” – As I have been saying to anyone who would listen, the 2016 Presidential campaign started the day after the 2014 vote. So who is the first candidate out of the box? That would be retiring Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), who is campaigning in the “first in the nation” primary state of New Hampshire Sunday and Monday. Perry, whose Presidential campaign imploded in 2012, is likely to make another run in 2016 (photo above).

“Oh, No! Not Another Poll!” – Okay, for you political junkies who just can’t get enough, here is the latest Bloomberg/Des Moines Register poll of the 2016 Presidential preferences in the first-caucus state of Iowa. Republican: former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA), 17%; Dr. Ben Carson, 11%; Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), 10%; Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), 6%; and, former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL), 4%. As for the Democrats, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is at 53%, compared to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) at 10%, with the rest undecided. Remember, a poll is not a predictor; it's just a snapshot of one moment in time. This is where we are today!

“Swing State Shuffle” – It is interesting to note that three key swing, battleground states chose to reelect their Republican Governors. Those states and leaders are Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL); Gov. John Kasich (R-OH); and, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI). That may help position the eventual GOP nominee well in all three key states, but remember this: None of these Governors could deliver their states for Mitt Romney in 2012. President Obama won them all. However, things and opinions of Mr. Obama have changed, and all three of these states are likely “in-play” in 2016. Also, Gov. Kasich is a potential Vice Presidential nominee. He and Gov. Walker may also run for the Presidential nomination outright! Stay tuned.

“Congress Not Set in Concrete” – While the GOP is celebrating a huge national victory this year, it may be short-lived. First of all, public impatience and dissatisfaction is rampant, so I don’t think either side can claim a solid majority for long. Second, the GOP had a huge advantage in 2014 as Democrats were defending two-thirds of the seats that were up. That will flip for the Republicans in 2016, making their majority vulnerable. And third, if Hillary Clinton is the eventual Democratic nominee for President in 2016, she could have strong coattails that could swing these states back to Democratic control. On the other hand, the GOP now holds a 59 seat advantage in the House, and switching that looks impossible for now.

“The Lynch Pin” – President Obama made a key strategic move. He nominated Loretta Lynch, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, to be the next U.S. Attorney General. First, she is eminently qualified, having twice served in her current post (the first being under President Clinton). Second, she has successful terrorism prosecutions under her belt. The big debate now is whether the current Democrat- controlled Senate should hold her confirmation hearings, or whether the new Republican-controlled Senate should do it in January. The GOP should just let it go, and have her confirmed soon. Any appearance that they are attacking an African-American woman would be political suicide. I’m not saying “rubber stamp” her, but hold the hearings; ask tough questions; confirm her; and, move on! There is no upside to having a fight.

“Rhode Island Red… I mean Blue!” – Just about the only state where Democrats had something to cheer for this year, was in the smallest state of Rhode Island. Democrats won all five of the statewide Constitutional offices, three seats in Congress and the Mayor’s race in Providence. In fact, this was one of the only states where President Obama came to campaign for candidates. He may retire here!

What are your thoughts on all of this? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2014 Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: ABC News

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