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What's Next After Fallout from Debate Round #3? - "Sunday Political Brunch" - September 22, 2019

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. -- It’s turning out to be like a 15-round professional boxing match. We’ve had three rounds of debates on the Democratic Party so far. Is the tide turning, and what is next? Let’s “brunch” on that this week.

“No Bounce for You!” – The post-debate poll from NBC News/Wall Street Journal is beginning to show some separation in the pack. Former Vice President Joe Biden leads with 31 percent – a consistent number for him – but Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) Massachusetts is next at 25 percent. Her support is growing, while Senator Bernie Sanders (I) Vermont at 14 percent, is trending downward, while Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) South Bend, Indiana is trending up at 7 percent. The rest of the pack is fading into the weeds.

“So, What’s Going On?” – First this was Biden’s best debate. He was steadier, and stronger after a poor first debate, and a moderately stronger second debate. He still raises questions about his endurance for a marathon campaign. Warren has now shown in three rounds, that she is the steadiest, strongest and most consistent debater on the stage. Even if you disagree with her policies, she is firm and confident and clear in expressing her positions. In short, you know where her feet are planted. That builds confidence.

“Bye, Bye Bernie?” – Oh heavens no! Don’t write his political obit by any stretch. He’s still in the game. Sanders is still in this. Remember, this was a national poll from NBC, but we don’t have national primary. When you drill down to key first states like New Hampshire, it’s all bunched up. In the latest Real Clear Politics composite poll in the “first in the nation" primary state of New Hampshire Biden is at 23.7 percent, Sanders at 22.3 percent and Warren at 21.7 percent. It’s a toss-up at this point, but the reward for whomever wins is momentum for the long-haul in the nomination process.

“Military Matters”—Folks, sometimes a candidate’s issue just rockets to center stage. Given the attack on the Saudi Arabian oil fields, and the finger-pointing at Iran, the possibility of U.S. military action is heightened. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D) Hawaii was live in CBS’s streaming news service for her reaction and strategy. Why? Because she’s served in the military. So has Mayor Buttigieg. Suddenly, their unique experience may prove to be an asset. Both are polling better in recent days, although they remain far from the frontrunners.

“Who’s on First? And What’s Next?” The fourth Democratic presidential primary debate will take place on Tuesday October 15, with a possible second night of debate. All ten people who made the third debate will be there, and wealthy businessman Tom Steyer (who has been in no debates) is the eleventh candidate to qualify. Keep an eye on Steyer. He was a late entry but has a bottomless wallet and can self-fund as a long as he wishes. He’s trending up in the polls, so he may be in the race for a while.

“Perspective is Important!” – Look, it’s still early in the campaign. A lot can change and change quickly. In this same week in September 2007, the Associated Press poll had its 40 percent for Hillary Clinton, to 26 percent for Barrack Obama. Similar polls on the Republican side had former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) with a commanding lead in the 40-plus percentage range. We all know how that turned out as neither frontrunner was the nominee. So, keep watching, as this is all in flux.

“Farewell Cokie Roberts” – I was sad to see the passing of my colleague Cokie Roberts this week, a legend in political reporting circles. I first met Cokie in November 1992, when I won a Congressional Fellowship with the American Political Science Association. She was an advisor of our program, where reporters spend a year working in Congress to see what goes on behind the scenes. It was a life-changing and career-changing program for me. When I went back to reporting full-time, I’d see her on stories and on the campaign trail. I even interviewed her and her husband Steve Roberts on TV when they visited San Francisco. She was smart, and classy, and well-connected, with encyclopedic knowledge of American politics. I will miss her and her great work.

Did the debates change your mind about who you are supporting? Just click the comment button and let your voice be heard!

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia, its five neighboring states and most of the Washington, D.C. media market. He is a National Contributing Writer for The White House Patch at www.Patch.com.

© 2019, Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo courtesy: Getty Images

Who Do Democrats Want for Vice President? - "Sunday Political Brunch" - September 15, 2019

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. – So much of the talk this week focused on the third Presidential Debate in Houston, sponsored by ABC. I’ll address some of that, but let’s talk about something few are talking about. And that is who will be the vice-presidential nominee? “Let’s “brunch” on that this week.

“Biden-Klobuchar” – I have long said that if former Vice President Joe Biden is the nominee, he will pick Sen. Amy Klobuchar as his running mate. The advantages are that the ticket has gender balance, and it has an experienced number-two who served as a county prosecutor, corporate lawyer and a U.S Senator for three terms. People want someone who can step in if the boss is ill or dies. Klobuchar can probably help the Democrats take back neighboring Wisconsin, while Biden could capture his native Pennsylvania. If they get Michigan or Ohio (assuming all other states stay as in 2016), Democrats win back the White House.

“Warren-Hickenlooper” – A lot of analysts think Warren is too liberal to be elected president in this era. They may be right. But pairing up with the moderate-pragmatic in Hickenlooper might give the ticket ideological and geographic balance. Hickenlooper served two terms as Mayor of Denver and two terms as Governor of Colorado. He’s not flashy, but rather is a steady, moderating influence a lot of people would be comfortable with.

“Sanders-Gabbard” – Like Warren, many feel Sanders is too liberal to get elected. Well, why not team up with the moderate Rep Tulsi Gabbard (D) Hawaii, who is a military veteran. Gabbard proved her tenacity in the second debate by forcefully taking on Senator Harris. A lot of centrist, moderate and right leaning Americans are less than confident of the Democrat’s support of the military. Gabbard, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) South Bend, Indiana, have scored a lot of points in these debates as the only military veterans on stage.

“Harris-O’Rourke” – Sen. Kamala Harris (D) California has faded in the polls after a great first debate, but a poor second debate. Democrats are going to win California no matter what, so she’d need to look at the Electoral College map, to see where Democrats could pick up a non-traditional state. O’Rourke nearly beat Sen. Ted Cruz (R) Texas. Also, five incumbent Republicans in the House of Representatives in Texas are retiring. Democrats hope to be competitive in all five districts. The demographics of Texas are changing. Harris picking O’Rourke or former HUD Secretary Julian Castro would be a bold roll of the dice.

“Buttigieg-Booker” – Mayor Pete is still a long-shot for the top of the ticket, but since he is performing so well in New Hampshire, you’ve got to look at his prospects of he wins or places high there. Again, his military chops matter. There’s also not a lot of concern – at least publicly – that he is openly gay and married. Fighting for his country seems to have “trumped” that. Still, he’s in his 30s, and would need someone with more seasoned experience to balance the ticket. Booker was the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, before advancing to the U.S. Senate.

“O’Rourke-Inslee” – Gov. Jay Inslee (D) Washington did not fare well in this presidential race and dropped out. But I think he’d be a viable running mate. He was clearly the most passionate and outspoken on the issue of climate change, and I predict no matter who wins, he will likely be tapped to be Secretary of Energy or the Interior. But, don’t rule him out as a potential VP pick. He served a stretch in Congress before his two terms as governor.

“The Others” – These are the top-six in virtually all presidential primary polls. At this point, I don’t think any of the other candidates can rise from the ashes, so I’m not going to handicap their chances. A good many of them probably have shots at cabinet positions, or higher political office down the road.

“The Third Debate” – Thursday night’s third Democratic Primary Debate from Houston was fascinating, but also plowed over a lot of old ground. The most memorable moment of the night was when former HUD Secretary and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro (D) Texas attacked former VP Joe Biden over health care, and whether Biden flip-flopped his policy on stage. “You just said two minutes ago, that you’d have to buy in. You said they’d have to buy in. Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?” Castro asked. “Are you forgetting what you said two-minutes ago,” Castro pressed as many on the crowd gasped. Given all the concerns about Biden’s age and mental acuity, Castro might either be viewed as appropriately combative, or highly insensitive. But you don’t become president by being timid. Stay tuned!

Whom would you like to see be the Democratic nominee for vice president next year? Just click the comment button and let me know.

Mark Curtis Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia and its five neighboring states, plus most of the Washington, D.C. television market. He is a National Contributing Political Write for the White House Patch at www.Patch.com.

© 2019, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: Getty Images

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