Mark Curtis's blog

“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- April 12, 2015

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(Washington, DC) – Well, here I am in the “belly of the beast” again this week, looking for new, full-time job opportunities and being with my daughter, Alexandra Curtis, as she represents the State of Rhode Island in the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The big news here is that just about every politician in the U.S wants to relocate to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as President, so I hung out at the White House to hear the latest chatter. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“Where’s Hillary? There She Is!” – Hillary Clinton will announce her run today. Some supporters worry she’s waited too long. (She hasn’t, but she has to hustle it up). Clinton is so powerful that she has effectively “frozen” all of the Democratic donors and volunteers. No one wants to commit a lot of time and money to other candidates, so they are waiting for her to jump in. She still controls the ball on the political playing field - at least on the Democratic side.

“Running Out the Clock” – Aside from “freezing out” the money and the volunteers for other potential campaigns, part of Hillary’s strategy is to create further distance from the Benghazi disaster and the more contemporary private email scandal. Reporters and voters are going to press her on both issues; and she wants to be able to frame them by suggesting that “All that’s old news!” Maybe it will work; maybe it won’t. My guess is that she’ll be repeatedly hammered over these issues, but unless new and damaging information is revealed, they could fade by the time primary season arrives.

“Linc, I Am Your Father!” – One has to wonder if the late, legendary U.S. Senator John Chafee is shouting my edited movie line from “Star Wars” from his grave. Senator John Chafee (R-RI) also served as Governor of Rhode Island and as U.S. Secretary of the Navy. But the collective jaws of the political world dropped Thursday when his son, former Governor Lincoln Chafee (D-RI,) announced he was exploring a run for the White House. The younger Chafee proved so unpopular as Governor that he didn’t even run for reelection. He also bolted the GOP to become an independent, then became a Democrat. In short: A man with no political base left will find a difficult road to the White House.

“Oh, Christmas Tree; Oh, Christmas Tree!” – One of Linc Chafee’s big political controversies was insisting on calling the state’s annual Christmas Tree a “Holiday Tree!” Yes, his predecessor once held a “holiday tree lighting,” but Chafee made it a national cause celebre. It was a disaster. Rhode Island and Massachusetts are two of the most Catholic-populated states in the nation, not to mention all the Protestant denominations here, too. It’s a Christmas Tree! Period! No one calls a Menorah a “Holiday Candelabra!” Can you imagine Chafee trying to win in the Bible Belt with this baggage? It’s simply a “poison pill.”

“So Why Is He Running?” – As I wrote last week, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is not going to get a free ride to the nomination; and that is probably a good thing for her, as she needs to stay in the headlines. Vice President Joe Biden is sure to run, and so, too, is former Governor Martin O’Malley (D-MD) - just in case former Senator Clinton fumbles the political football. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is being heavily recruited by those with “Clinton fatigue.” So, if it becomes a crowded field, Linc Chafee could theoretically win the nomination, though statistically it’s a long shot. But remember this: He became Rhode Island Governor in 2010 with just 36 percent of the vote in a crowded field. Sound familiar?

“I Gotta Famous Daddy, Too!” – Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) also announced his Presidential bid this week. He is the son of three-time Presidential candidate and former Representative Ron Paul (R-TX). The Pauls – though different in their own ways and views – represent the Libertarian wing of the Republican Party. People either love them or hate them. The Pauls don’t mind sticking their thumbs in the eyes of establishment Republicans. Just ask former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ). When push came to shove, many Paul backers stayed home, instead of voting for the 2008 and 2012 Republican nominees.

“Rubio Ruminations” – Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is the next Republican in, planning to jump into the fray on Monday. Rubio has three huge assets: a) He’s Hispanic and bilingual, and can help the Republicans in those camps; b) He can carry the “big prize” state of Florida which the GOP must have to recapture the White House; and, c) He’s young and energetic, with an immigration bill that might just get through Congress. He’s a real player in this race and one to keep an eye on for either spot on the GOP ticket. One potential pothole: He and former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) are longtime allies. Will a GOP rift hurt both men?

“Why All of This Matters?” – As we have seen in the last six election cycles, the Presidential election is basically decided by approximately ten swing states that bounce back and forth between the two major parties. The keys to the White House reside in Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, Virginia and Colorado. Early polls indicate that Florida and Virginia may be headed back to the GOP camp. Just add New Hampshire and Ohio to that, and Republicans are back in power. It’s that close!

What do you think are the “keys” to the front door at the White House? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2015, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: MCM

"The Sunday Political Brunch" -- April 5, 2015

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(Delmarva Peninsula, Maryland) – Happy Easter and Passover to all! I spent three days this past week on the beautiful and fascinating Delmarva Peninsula on the East Coast. For those unfamiliar with the region, this includes the State of Delaware, the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and a portion of coastal Virginia jutting north from Norfolk. While it’s a summer vacation paradise for people from Washington, DC, Baltimore and Philadelphia, it may actually play a pivotal role in the 2016 Presidential campaign. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“Biden Time” – The region’s most famous politician is Vice President Joe Biden (photo right), who spent 36 years in the U.S. Senate before being elected to the nation’s number two job. I have been predicting that Biden will challenge former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic nomination. Biden wants to be a “placeholder” in case Mrs. Clinton falters for any reason. I bet he will run in the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primary; but if Clinton is well in the lead after those two contests, Biden will gracefully bow out. You might say he’s running “just in case…”

“Maybe O’Malley” – I am also predicting that former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD) will challenge Secretary Clinton for the nomination, too. O’Malley (photo left) will get in for reasons similar to Joe Biden’s – again, in case Mrs. Clinton stumbles. But O’Malley is also trying to build his name nationally for a more serious Presidential run in 2020 or 2024. People in this region know him well; people in Iowa and California (and everywhere else, for that matter), do not know him at all. He needs to build national name recognition. Right now, I am handicapping O’Malley as a “polite” challenger, who will eventually agree to be Hillary Clinton’s running mate.

“Virginia Swings for Presidents” – As mentioned, part of this strategic peninsula is in Virginia. This traditionally “red” state has gone Democratic in 2008 and 2012, backing President Obama. Prior to that, the last Democratic Presidential candidate to win in Virginia was Lyndon Johnson in 1964. What was once a Republican “gimmie” state is now clearly one of the ten key battleground states in the nation. Virginia will be critical in 2016, especially if the GOP hopes to take back the White House.

“Old Money” – While this region is “a stone’s throw” from Washington, DC, getting there is actually kind of slow and awkward. The Chesapeake Bay separates the region from Baltimore and Washington, DC; and a series of bridges and rural highways make the trip a lot longer than “by the way the crow flies.” Perhaps because of that, it has become home to quiet political retreats for Democrats and Republicans alike. In fact there is a resort in Cambridge, Maryland, where pols from both parties have huddled for strategic powwows with those in power over the years. It’s close to the nation’s capital, yet quietly out of sight. Many famous politicians have retired in the region, too.

“History” – The area is best known nationally for sending two men to the Vice Presidency: Republican Spiro Agnew in 1968 and 1972, and Democrat Joe Biden in 2008 and 2012. Many politicians here are longtime office holders who have gained power through seniority in Congress and have their fingerprints on significant legislation. For example, the legislation creating your Roth IRA Retirement Account was drafted by former Sen. William Roth (R-DE); and the often-criticized Sarbanes-Oxley Bill, which regulates your corporate accounting and taxes, bears the name of Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-MD). In short, this region has clout in the halls of power.

“The Latin Beat” – As with many other regions of the country, Delmarva – and the three states it partially comprises – have seen a significant increase in Hispanic voters. Many are attracted to the region’s still huge agricultural industry and also to the growing tourism-driven hospitality industry. The increase in that voting demographic alone is probably the main reason why Virginia has switched from a solidly Republican state to one that is increasingly electing Democrats, from the White House on down.

“Senate Showdown” – The 2016 Presidential race notwithstanding, there are some other key races coming up in this region. For example, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) has announced she will not be seeking another term after decades in Congress. She chairs the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, which is basically in charge of dividing up and spending all of your tax dollars. While many might downplay Republican chances of winning her seat in 2016, the GOP just put Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD) in the Governor’s mansion. So, all bets are off.

“Why all of this Matters” – We often hear about the American power structure “inside the Beltway,” but this region is just outside the Beltway. It’s close enough to wield power, yet distant enough to claim to be absolved of blame. In many ways, it is like a stealth aircraft. It’s a very strategic weapon, but only makes its presence known if it so chooses.

Let us know your thoughts! Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2015, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: Zimbio.com

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