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Sunday Political Brunch -- Will Florida Mark the End of Trump Presidency? - August 20, 2017

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FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA – The “brunch” is on the road for the next two weeks, assessing what’s going on in the politics of some key states. Those states might decide the fates and fortunes of the Trump Presidency and the Republican-led Congress in 2018 and 2020, so let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“As Florida Goes; So, Goes the Nation” – The Sunshine State is becoming a bellwether of American politics, not only a key battleground for the White House, but for Congressional influence as well. In the last ten Presidential elections, Florida has been on the losing side only once. Now, as the third most populous state, with 29 Electoral College votes, it’s a kingmaker.

“The First Test” – The 2018 midterm Congressional elections will indeed be the first litmus test of Donald Trump’s Presidency. It will be the first time that voters nationwide will get to vote up or down on House and Senate candidates, in part based on their support of Trump. Republicans are strongly targeting six U.S. Senate seats, including the one occupied by Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL). Governor Rick Scott (R-FL) is term-limited and may run for the Senate. Some polls show Nelson with a big lead for now; while other polls are much closer. Other candidates are in, too, so this could be a big fight.

“20/20 Vision” – I am all but certain that President Trump will face a challenge for re-nomination in 2020. The first name that comes to mind is that of Governor John Kasich (R-OH). Kasich is termed-out and has just over a year left as Ohio Governor. He was never a Trump guy. Even after many in the GOP begrudgingly supported their nominee, Kasich did not. He didn’t even attend the Republican National Convention, which was held in Cleveland. Kasich is one of a few prominent Republicans on the national stage who will be able to say, “See! I told you so!” He has a long resume and could carry the key swing state of Ohio. Keep an eye on him.

“Internal Party Fights” – In my lifetime, four sitting Presidents faced internal party fights when they were up for re-nomination. Their opponents are in parentheses: Lyndon Johnson (Senator Eugene McCarthy, Senator Robert Kennedy, and others); Gerald Ford (Governor Ronald Reagan); Jimmy Carter (Senator Ted Kennedy); and George H.W. Bush (Pat Buchanan). In each case, the incumbent either dropped out or lost in the general election. Primary fights are expensive and bruising. And when party members can’t rally around an incumbent, that makes independent voters more likely to bolt, as well. An internal party challenge to President Trump in 2020 seems probable.

“Marco Rubio” – Since we are in Florida and talking about a potential nomination challenge to President Trump, I must mention some possible Sunshine State candidates. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) ran for President in 2016 and was crushed. But in 2020, he’ll be in his second U.S. Senate term, and will still be just 49 years old. Of Cuban decent from South Florida, he will have huge appeal in the all-important Hispanic demographic, not just in Florida, but nationwide. He has already condemned President Trump’s confusing and seemingly contradictory remarks about the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, so Rubio may be planning another White House bid.

“Jeb Bush” – Former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) may be making plans for another White House bid soon, as well. Former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush issued strong anti-racism statements this week; and while they did not mention President Trump or his comments directly, there appeared to be implied criticism of Trump's response to the incidents in Charlottesville. Look! It’s no secret that members of the powerful Bush family are not fans of Trump. The elder Bushes may be urging Jeb towards another Presidential run.

“The Florida Melting Pot” – People have often asked me whether the Southern states vote in a block; and for many years, my answer was “Yes.” Why has Florida now bucked the trend? Yes, Florida is still very Southern, but with an influx of millions of people from New York and the Northeast along the I-95 corridor and with so many Midwesterners along the I-75 corridor, it is truly a state of many diverse people, cultures, and voices. Florida is beholden to neither political party.

“Trump’s Not Done” – I’ve had many people tell me in the past week that the Trump Presidency is over and simply can’t recover from the latest controversies. I disagree. Incumbency is a powerful asset, and being the current occupant of the White House is an advantage never to be discounted. To be sure, Trump is his own worst enemy. The constant provocative tweeting and then the mixed messages on Charlottesville do not serve him well. But neither did the crude “Access Hollywood” tapes, and Trump still won the election. Folks, it’s August, 2017; and we are a long, long way from November, 2020. A lot can happen between now and then.

Do you think President Trump is finished, or does his Presidency still have legs? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo Courtesy: cbsnews.com

Sunday Political Brunch When Presidents Talk Tough -- August 13, 2017

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CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINIA – President Trump stirred a lot of emotion this week, when he warned North Korea - which continues to make missile threats - that “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” North Korea even threatened to launch a nuclear missile at Guam, a nearby U.S. territory. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“Fire and Fury” -- So how did Trump's warning play? Trump fans loved it. They believe it’s time for a U.S. President to talk tough and to be willing to back it up with military might. Critics thought the warning was reckless “cowboy bluster,” which might provoke North Korea to make military strikes. I was surprised at how shocked many people were, as if no U.S. President has ever talked tough like this before. History tells us otherwise.

“Words Are Diplomacy” – Many of the President’s critics would like to see diplomacy given more of a chance. But the North Korea problem is not new. It has been a thorn in the sides of Trump and his three predecessors in the White House. Now, its Kim Jong Un; but before him, it was his equally provocative father, Kim Jong Il. Neither seemed inclined to seriously consider diplomatic efforts, but many believe a stern intervention by North Korea’s ally, China, might be the ticket to a diplomatic solution. In the meantime, the two Kims have launched numerous missiles, which - although mostly duds - sooner or later might hit pay dirt.

“Tear Down This Wall!” – Many people remember it fondly, but it was not so popular at the time. When President Reagan stood at the Brandenburg Gate in June, 1987, to plead for an end to Communist East Germany, he defiantly said to the then-Soviet dictator, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” My friend Peter Robinson - a Reagan speechwriter now at Stanford University - wrote the address. He and senior White House aides debated whether the controversial line should be in or out. It stayed at Robinson’s insistence, and the rest is history. Critics thought Reagan was trying to escalate the arms race with Russia and it could lead to war. It didn’t. In fact, the Berlin Wall came down just over two years later.

“Don’t Tread on Us!” – President Clinton surprised a lot of people just five months into his term, when he ordered a bombing raid on Iraq. U.S. intelligence had uncovered an Iraqi plot to assassinate former President George H.W. Bush. This is what President Clinton said: “From the first days of our Revolution, America's security has depended on the clarity of this message: Don't tread on us. A firm and commensurate response was essential to protect our sovereignty, to send a message to those who engage in state-sponsored terrorism…” His critics thought Clinton was beating his own chest, but Saddam Hussein backed off, if only for a few years.
“To Kill bin Laden” – During a debate with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) in 2008, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) said, “If we have Osama Bin Laden in our sights and the Pakistani government is unable or unwilling to take him out, then I think that we must act, and we will take him out. We will kill Bin Laden. We will crush al-Qaida. That has to be our biggest national security priority.” He said a similar thing in primary debates with Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY). Obama was widely booed by official Washington for telegraphing an incursion into the sovereign state of Pakistan. Senators Clinton and McCain seized on this as wrong. In May, 2012, Obama did exactly what he had promised. He ordered a raid into Pakistan, without telling its leaders, and called the strike that killed Bin Laden.
“Bring ‘em On!” – In July, 2003, contemplating war with Iraq, President George W. Bush said, "There are some who feel like -- that the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is 'Bring 'em on. We've got the force necessary to deal with the security situation'." Bush was harshly criticized for his provocative language. Years later, he acknowledged that even First Lady Laura Bush had not been happy. He said, “I can remember getting back to the White House; and Laura said, 'What did you do that for?' I said, 'Well, it was just an expression that came out. I didn't rehearse it.' I don't know if you'd call it a regret, but it certainly is a lesson that a President must be mindful of, that the words that you sometimes say - I speak plainly sometimes - but you've got to be mindful of the consequences of the words.”

“Why All of This Matters” – It’s interesting that George W. Bush, perhaps the most-criticized President of recent time (before Donald J. Trump), has the greatest insight into this dilemma. As President, your words are carefully weighed. Speak too weakly, and you are called a wimp. Talk too tough, and you are called a bully. The great equalizer is when Presidents back up their rhetoric with real action. All the Presidents I cited here backed up their tough words with concrete action. Will President Trump join their ranks? Stay tuned!

Was President Trump’s talk too tough? Or will it invite trouble? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com

© 2017, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: cbsnews.com

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