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Covid-19 and the Uncertainty of Election 2020 - “The Sunday Political Brunch" - June 28, 2020

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CHARLESTON, WV – This coming Friday is July 3, meaning it’s exactly four months until Election Day 2020. Will Covid-19 still be with us, or a distant memory? We just don’t know. Will the economy bounce back, or tank worse? Again, it’s just a guess. I don’t know of an election cycle in my lifetime that had so much uncertainty weighing down upon it. Let’s “brunch” on that this week.

“Covid Comeback?” – The majority of states in the nation had a surge in new Covid-19 cases this past week. It was worse in the heavily populated states of Florida, California and Texas. And while we think this is an old person’s disease, the worst spikes were among young people, 18 to 30. Hospitalizations in California were up by 32 percent. Is this the “second wave” we’ve all been wondering about? Or is it more of the economy gradually reopening and people letting their guard down? Most of the “second wave” predictions had fall is the most likely timeline. So why so much earlier?

“Timeline Troubles” – As I have said before, it’s unseemly to talk about Coronavirus in a political context. After all, people are dying. But public policy, and what to do, or not to do, is central on this issue. It’s going to get political, like it or not! And that’s why the timing of what happens really matters. If Covid-19 had waned by the end of June and Wall Street surged as it did earlier this month, then President Trump has a glide-path to reelection. But if the positive cases and deaths rise sharply, he’s done. I think the important date in this is October 1. The trend on that date may well determine who wins the White House and a lot of other political races. Success against Covid-19 helps incumbents in both parties. Failure is hard to campaign on.

“Economic Hardships” – It’s not just a public health issue. Covid-19 is also an economic issue. Look what the disruption in the supply chain has done, not to mention the closure of many small businesses. Here’s another key date to watch. On July 31, the CARES Act funding that provided people on unemployment another $600 per week in benefits, will come to an end. Will those folks be going back to work anywhere, or is their economic hardship going to spike as well? Again, if the economy sours, that’s bad for the incumbents, as by then the election will be a mere three months away. That’s hardly enough time to turn anything around. I do predict Congress and the White House will pass another economic stimulus package in July, but what’s contained in it is only a guess at this time.

“Unconventional Conventions” – I have attended and covered 10 political nominating conventions in my career and always enjoy them, (though it means 20-hour workdays). I was so looking forward to being in my hometown of Milwaukee this year covering the Democrats. That was to be followed by a trip to Charlotte where I’ve worked in media, and where my niece and goddaughter is now a news anchor-reporter like me. Sadly, both trips are unlikely. Milwaukee will be a “virtual” convention via Zoom, and in Charlotte some GOP delegations will gather, but President Trump will deliver his acceptance speech in Jacksonville, Florida. It’s surreal.

“Biden’s Final Four vs. My Final Four!” – Word has leaked from the Biden campaign that his final four choices for the VP slot may be Sen. Kamala Harris (D) California, Rep. Val Demings, (D) Florida, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) Atlanta, and former National Security Advisor Susan Rice. I had the first three on my list, but had Michelle Obama in there, instead of Susan Rice. I’d say after 40-plus years of covering politics, my instincts are not too bad! The only white running mate Biden is apparently still considering, is Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D Massachusetts.

“My Analysis” – I think Warren is out, as there is so much pressure on Biden to pick a woman of color. The Democratic ticket will carry California regardless of who is picked, so that hurts Harris’s chances. Susan Rice will be attacked endlessly about the handling of the 2012 terrorist in Benghazi. So, she’s a longshot. Mayor Bottoms remain in this because she could swing Georgia into the Democrats column. I’m betting on Rep. Val Deming, (D) Florida whose long law enforcement career, included being police chief in Orlando, Florida. Law enforcement will be one of the top-five issues this year, so a running mate with her chops can help Biden in many states, including a real shot at winning Florida.

What are your thoughts on the topsy-turvy political world in the middle of a global pandemic? Just click the comment button to let us know!

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 Political Contributing Writer at “The White House Patch” at www.Patch.com.

© 2020, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: Getty Images

Some Fun Presidential Father's Day Trivia - "The Sunday Political Brunch" June 21, 2020

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Okay politics has gotten way too serious of late, so let's have some fun! This is a re-print of my Father's Day 2018 article, in which we looked at some of the interesting parenting trivia of our presidents! Enjoy!!! We’ll “brunch” on that this week.

“Like Father; Like Son” – We’ll start with the easy trivia. We’ve had two father and son combos serve in the White House, which is quite a rarity. Yes, royal families leave a legacy of kingly descendants, but our Founding Fathers very much tried to steer away from that. Still, President John Adams was our second U.S. President and his son John Quincy Adams was our sixth. Nearly two hundred years later we elected George H.W. Bush as our 41st President, and just twelve years later sent his son George W. Bush to the White House.

“John Who?" – Does anyone recall U.S. Rep. John Scott Harrison (Whig-OH), who served two terms in Congress in the 1850s? Probably not, but he has the distinction of being the only person to be both the son and the father of a U.S. President. His dad was President William Henry Harrison, and his son President Benjamin Harrison.

“The Presidential Mingle” – Julie Nixon – daughter of President Richard Nixon – married David Eisenhower, grandson of President Dwight Eisenhower. Making this even more intriguing is the fact that Richard Nixon also served as Vice President under President Eisenhower for eight years from 1953 to 1961.

“Land of Lincoln” – President Abraham Lincoln is considered one of our greatest chief executives. His life was tinged with sadness, including the death of a son while he served as President. Two other Lincoln children died young. But Lincoln’s eldest had shining moments. His son Robert Todd Lincoln served as a Captain in the U.S. Army under General (and later President) Ulysses S. Grant. Robert Lincoln attended Harvard and rose the ranks in politics. He served as
U.S. Secretary of War (now Defense), under Cleveland. He then went on to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom under President Benjamin Harrison. Yes, his amazing accomplishments may be over shadowed by his dad in all the history books, but Robert Todd Lincoln remains one of the most prolific and successful of all presidential children.

“The Dads Have It” – If there is one thing in common among all 44 men who have served as U.S. President, it’s that all were fathers. Mind you that five were adoptive fathers, and the other 39 fathered biological children. Now I know some of you are scratching your heads saying, “President James Buchanan was a life-long bachelor?” Well, that’s true, but President Buchanan adopted his orphaned niece, Harriet Lane. At the age of 27, Lane served as First Lady of the United States for her bachelor uncle’s presidency!

“Father of Our Country?” – George Washington never fathered any children, but he did adopt his wife Martha's six kids. Four other Presidents - James Madison, James Polk, Andrew Jackson, and James Buchanan, also adopted children, but fathered none. President Warren Harding fathered a child out-of-wedlock the year before winning the White House.

“Trump Dad Times-Three” -- President Donald Trump is the only U.S. President to have been married three times, and fathered children with all three spouses. Donald Jr, Eric, and Ivanka, are the children from first wife Ivana. Tiffany Trump is the daughter of Marla Maples; and Barron Trump is the son of Melania Trump. Several other presidents had children with two spouses, and we know that Thomas Jefferson had children with slave Sally Hemmings.

“Father of Father’s Day” – Father's Day has a variety of origins. The first known commemoration was a memorial service in Monongah, West Virginia in 1907, after 361 men were killed in a mining accident. 1910, the YWCA in Spokane Washington offered a Father's Day service, but attempts to make it a national holiday in the administrations of Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge failed. It was always celebrated unofficially, but became a formally recognized holiday when President Lyndon Johnson signed a proclamation in 1966, which later became law under President Nixon in 1972. Father's Day had a lot of "presidential fathers!"

“Double Trouble” – The only presidential couple to deliver twins, was George W. and Laura Bush, with daughters Jenna and Barbara. By the way, they are among 31 living presidential children, the eldest being 76-year-old Lynda Byrd Johnson Robb, and the youngest being 14-year-old Barron Trump.

“Most Kids?" – President John Tyler wins this one hands down, with 15 kids. Tyler had eight children with his first wife and seven with his second. His first wife Letitia died about a year and a half into his term. Two years later he married Julia, while still in the White House.

Do you have a favorite presidential child? I liked rebellious teenager Susan Ford, who was known to sneak out of the White House while in high school. Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is a nationally-known political reporter, author, and analyst now based in West Virginia, as Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving the Mountain State. He is a National Political Contributor for the White House Patch at www.Patch.com.

© 2020 Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo courtesy: WhiteHouse.gov

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