(Charleston, West Virginia) – It’s on to the Mountain State and the Cornhusker State this week, as West Virginia and Nebraska hold primaries on May 10. A much clearer picture of the fall campaign is starting to come into focus, as the Clintons, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump all visited West Virginia this week. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:
“Indiana Wants Me” – Donald Trump easily won Indiana with 53 percent of the vote to 37 percent for Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and 8 percent for Governor John Kasich (R-OH). Cruz dropped out that night; Kasich quit the next day. Bernie Sanders beat Hillary in Indiana 53 to 47 percent, but the delegate math still leaves him far, far behind.
“Sherrod Brown” – I hear a lot of insider rumors from a wide variety of people, and – I’ll be honest – it’s always hard to sort out the real deal from the baloney. But a high-ranking labor leader told me this week that Clinton is seriously considering Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) as her running mate. Brown spent 14 years in the U.S. House and nine in the Senate, as well as having been Secretary of State in Ohio and also having served as a state legislator. This race – as with others, such as 2004 – may come down to Ohio.
“Kasich the Key” -- Speaking of Ohio, Republicans are also eyeing the Buckeye State. Now that he has dropped out of the Presidential race, John Kasich is likely to be considered by Donald Trump as a potential running mate. I’ve said it before: No Republican has ever won the White House, without winning Ohio. The upside is that Kasich could help win Ohio for Trump; the downside is that a ticket with two white males seems old-school these days. Still, Kasich has the Washington, D.C., “sea-legs” that Trump will need.
“Where was Hillary?” – Win, lose, or draw on primary night, I think a candidate has to give a speech. Forget about your opponents; you owe it to your supporters. Tuesday night was “Mystery Night” in the Tri-State area for Hillary Clinton. While she held events in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Ohio over three days, she was pummeled by criticism from coal miners. We were told that - anticipating the loss to Sanders in Indiana - Hillary spent Tuesday night watching election returns at her New York home.
“Foot in Mouth” – I covered Donald Trump’s campaign rally on Thursday night in Charleston, WV. Yes, it was anti-climactic after Cruz and Kasich dropped out. Oddly enough, Trump had an ill-advised message to his supporters. "The vote was supposed to be on Tuesday. But now I can say, 'Stay home!'" Trump told the crowd of 14,000. The problem was that many other Republicans – running for state and local office - have critical primary races on Tuesday, and telling GOP voters to stay home is akin to political suicide. On Friday, Trump “Tweeted” that Mountain State Republicans should actually vote on Tuesday. Oops!
“Wow: 32% of Sanders Supporters Won’t Vote for Hillary” – Party loyalty is going to be a big commodity this year. A CBS news poll on Tuesday night said 32 percent of Bernie Sanders’s supporters will not vote for Hillary Clinton in November. Look, I’ve been around politics a long, long time and know that a lot of that is sour grapes, and many of those people will be on board in November. On the GOP side, I see Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), and the Bush family saying they can’t back Trump. Which side – if any – will cave first and support its party's nominee?
“Who Will Pay for All of This” – Last week I challenged some to explain to me how Bernie Sanders would pay for his free college tuition program for all Americans. I agree, it sounds like a great plan; but who picks up the tab? This week in Charleston, Donald Trump promised to completely revitalize the region’s struggling coal industry, much of which has been shut down by Obama administration policies. “I am thinking about the miners all over this country. We’re going to put the miners back to work,” Trump said to loud cheers. But how does that happen, and how does it get paid for? Stay tuned.
“Why All of This Matters” – West Virginia and Nebraska vote on Tuesday, and then Kentucky votes on March 17th. All three states are likely to go Republican in November, but at this point the tone of the campaign remains important. I said the other day in an interview on KGO Radio AM-810 in San Francisco that Trump’s worst enemy was being smug; and Clinton’s worst enemy was being overconfident. Many Facebook posts this week congratulated her on being the first female President; while others have the Trumps ordering curtains for the White House. Folks, this race still has six months to do and a lot can happen. It’s too early to think either side has won!
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