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“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- December 21, 2014

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(Washington, DC) – We are on the road again this week in the belly of the beast – the Nation’s Capital! I spent six of the best years of my life here, working in both press and politics. Now the very real possibility of another “Clinton v. Bush” Presidential race is shaping up for 2016. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“This is Not ‘All in the Family!” – There will be attempts from both sides as this race materializes, to try to pin the failures of President Bill Clinton, onto Hillary Clinton; and, conversely to tie whatever perceived shortcomings of President George W. Bush, onto Jeb Bush. Both strategies would be a huge mistake. Hillary is not Bill; Jeb is not George. Hillary has a record as a U.S. Senator and Secretary of State; Jeb has a record as a two-term Governor of Florida. They have to run on their own policies (and be challenged on them by the public and press). They don’t have to run on the record of a famous relative.

“Insider vs. Outsider” – Both candidates may be tempted to try to portray themselves as Washington outsiders. That would be foolish and the public won’t buy it for a minute, but I bet you each of them tries. Jeb never worked in Washington, DC, and Hillary has been “gone” for four years. Both have amassed wealth, so no one is going to believe they are average folks like people along Main Street America. Yet, they will probably try.

“Ali vs. Frazier” -- I will confess up front as a member of the working press – and this will be my tenth Presidential campaign – that this is the race I would really like to see. That’s not an endorsement of either candidate, or their policies; it’s rather an endorsement of the sheer drama and public attention this race would draw. It is akin to the legendary Ali-Frazier boxing matches of the 1970s. This potential race has more facets that a fine diamond. What??? You want a Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) versus Governor Martin O’Malley (D-MD) race instead of Bush v. Clinton? ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzz! The Clinton-Obama contest for the nomination in 2008 was the single best race I’ve ever covered. I want something similar in 2016.

“Strategy: Bush” – Republicans need to pick up about ten percentage points from Latino voters nationwide, to win the White House. How does Bush do that? Well he is fluent in Spanish, his wife is from Colombia and they have three bi-racial children. He’s also done very well among Hispanic voters in Florida over the years. He really has to maximize this. His campaign has a built-in connection to the Latino community, and it needs to take that beachhead!

“Strategy: Clinton” – Canada, Great Britain, Germany, Ireland, and Israel are among key U.S. allies who’ve had a female chief executive. Many U.S. voters – men and women alike – would like to see us elect the first female U.S. President. As a practical matter, women have a significantly higher voter turnout than men. Yes, it’s opportunistic, but that’s the nature of politics. Just as many Catholics (even conservatives) flocked to John Kennedy as the first Irish-Catholic President; and many others to Barack Obama as the first African-America President, so, too, will many female voters gravitate to Hillary Clinton. Yes, politics is part “novelty” so why not run with it!

“Fatigue Factors” – As novel as a “re-match” race might be between the Bush and Clinton families, there is a downside. Many Americans suffer what is commonly referred to as “Bush fatigue” and “Clinton fatigue.” Legacy political families get tiresome to many. For example, the Kennedy and Roosevelt luster has faded for many voters. The same old families, controlling the same old parties can make the public weary. It may be the reason Barack Obama won a razor thin victory over Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primaries. It may be the main reason Republican Scott Brown trounced Democrat Martha Coakley in the 2010 Senate race to fill Ted Kennedy’s seat. Both the Bush and Clinton camps need to strategize against this if they want to win.

“Wildcards!” – Some of the intangible factors will include who each candidates pick for their Vice Presidential running mate. If I were Hillary Clinton, I would pick retiring Governor Martin O’Malley (D-MD). He’s young, energetic, good-looking, charming, smart, experienced, with that “Kennedy-like” persona. He may even challenge Hillary for the nomination - and if he does unsuccessfully - would be a good number-two pick. If I were Jeb Bush, I would pick Governor Susana Martinez (R-NM). She’s a two-term Governor, a tough former prosecutor, Latina, female and could help swing heavily Hispanic populated states such as New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada, back into the Republican tent. She helps Bush bring more Hispanics and women into the GOP fold. That could be a wining combination!

For whom would you vote in 2016, Democratic Hillary Clinton or Republican Jeb Bush? Cast your ballot and tell us why at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2014, MarkCurtisMedia, LLC.

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“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- December 14, 2014

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(Cape Cod, Massachusetts) – I am on the road this week, working on the filming of a major motion picture produced by Disney. I’ll have more details on that soon, but since I am in the Bay State this weekend, I thought we might talk more about indications that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney might make a third run for the White House in 2016. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“Third Time the Charm?” – Mitt Romney himself has made no recent comments suggesting he might reconsider a run for President in 2016. However, people close to Romney are cited in several recent reports suggesting the 2012 GOP nominee is unimpressed with the current field of prospective Republican candidates, and is also emboldened by reports suggesting that many 2012 voters who cast ballots for President Obama, now wish they had chosen Romney. It seems clear that Romney has probably not shut the door to 2016 entirely.

“A Brief History of Multiple Campaigns” – Repeat nominees and candidates have not fared well in American politics. William Jennings Bryan was a three-time Democratic nominee for President; Harold Stassen ran 12 times for the Republican nomination (a few serious campaigns, but most were novelty runs); and, Eugene V. Debs ran five times as the Socialist Party nominee, but none of these men ever became President. In more recent history Romney is joined by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and former Senator Bob Dole (R-KS), in having run twice for President and lost. So, a third Romney run comes with the risk of a “been there; done that” reaction by the public.

“On the Other Hand” – Richard Nixon may go down in history as one of the most die-hard American politicians. Having lost his bid for the White House to President Kennedy in 1960, Nixon embarked on an ill-fated run for California Governor in 1962. His famous line after losing that race was, “You don’t have Nixon to kick around any more.” Yet, as we all know, Nixon rose from the political ashes in 1968 and won the White House and was then reelected in 1972. Successful comebacks – though rare – can happen.

“The Obstacles” – Part of Nixon’s success was that in the old days, you could almost “erase history” if you wanted to. Failed elections can fade in public memory, and people can reinvent themselves. That is a much harder task in this modern Internet age. People can now search virtually every thing you ever said; every promise you failed to keep; and, every policy vote or position you ever made. The Internet has removed the “fig leaf” of politics. Romney’s very transparent life and business dealings were used against him very effectively in 2012. How would 2016 be any different?

“Voter Persuasion” – One thing you have to do successfully in a comeback bid, is to convince a lot of people who voted against you last time; to change their minds and vote for you next time. You have to “flip” key constituencies in order to win. The biggest challenge the Republican Party has these days is convincing enough Latino voters to cast ballots for the GOP. In 2012, The Hispanic vote was 71 percent for President Obama, to 27 percent for former Governor Mitt Romney. In 2008, Obama received 67 percent of the Latino vote, to 31 percent for John McCain. On the other hand, President George W. Bush won the White House in 2000 and 2004, with 40 percent and 35 percent of the Hispanic vote, respectively. Republican do not necessarily have to win a majority of Latino voters; they just need to be more competitive and take home a greater share to win the White House.

“Home Field Advantage” – I am fairly certain that no candidate has ever won the Presidency, without having won his home state. The moderate Romney was elected Governor of Massachusetts – one of the most liberal states in the nation – as a Republican. But in 2012, Obama swamped Romney in the Bay State, 61 to 38 percent. Massachusetts just elected Republican Charlie Baker as Governor, and maybe that can help Romney in 2016. The bottom line, you must win at home. That has to be your base from which to build!

What are your thoughts? Can Mitt Romney win the White House on his third try, or is he political toast in your book? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2014, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: ABC News

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