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“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- May 8, 2016


(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!

Who is your pick? Donald or Hillary? Tell us who, and why by clicking the comment button at

© 2016 Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: Mark Curtis Media

“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- May 1, 2016


(Huntington, West Virginia) – They were “feeling the Bern” last Tuesday night in Huntington, West Virginia, with Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders visiting the Mountain State. Huntington is right on the Ohio River in the Tri-State region, so a lot of voters from Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia were there. Wins in the West Virginia primary on May 10, and Kentucky on May 17, are crucial to Sanders staying viable in the race. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“College Kids” – The crowd was packed with college-age voters, many of whom will be casting ballots for the first time. A poll earlier this year showed Sanders winning 82 percent of voters from ages 18 to 30. Natalie Holmes, a first-time voter, praised Sanders saying, "He wants free college and health care, and I like that he is anti-war and pro-choice, and there's just so many things."

“Open Primary” – Sanders may have a big advantage in the next two primaries – Indiana and West Virginia. Indiana is an open primary, meaning Democrats can vote for Republicans, and vice-versa. West Virginia is semi-open, in that anyone registered non-partisan can vote in either the Democrat or Republican Primary. Letting independents vote in partisan primaries helps Sanders, as the candidate noted. "And what we have learned in this campaign is that when there are large voter turnouts, we win. When there are low voter turnouts we lose," Sanders said. Last Tuesday Sanders won the only open primary – in Rhode Island - while losing the four closed primaries to Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Connecticut.

“Education” – Sanders is promoting a platform of free college tuition for all, a plan that is supported in many European countries such as Germany. "They understand that investing in their young people is investing in the future of their countries," Senator Sanders said. It’s a promise that resonated with the crowd, even though how you pay for it remains unresolved. "He supports free education and, like, reformed health care," said Justine Simpson, a college-age West Virginia voter.

“JFK Playbook” – Sanders’s one-hour speech was spellbinding. Normally on primary night, a candidate speaks for 15 to 20 minutes, win, lose, or draw. In Huntington, Sanders spoke for a full hour. He talked in sharp detail about economic problems in West Virginia, including McDowell County, one of the most impoverished in the nation. In 1960, Senator John Kennedy used a similar strategy to defeat Senator Hubert Humphrey in the West Virginia Primary, and it propelled Kennedy to the nomination. Sanders’s strategy sounded a lot like Kennedy’s.

"I hope that on May 10th West Virginia will have the largest voter turnout in the history of the state,” Sanders said, to loud applause.

“Tired of Business as Usual” – The thing that has always struck me about Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump is that they are tapping the same well of public frustration and anger, albeit from opposite ends of the political spectrum. They are bookends of the American political system, yet resonate with people on both sides who know that politics is broken for them. Anna Smith will vote for the first time this year, as she turns 18 in July, and is a passionate Sanders backer. "He's so honest and so truthful with everything he has said so far," Smith said.

“The Cold Reality” – Sanders gave a very heart-felt and inspiring speech, and the audience loved it. But people at the other campaign rallies feel just as passionately about Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich. The question everyone needs to ask when they hear these lofty and idealistic promises is, “How are we going to pay for all of this?” The youngest voters – who will inherit all of our debt – need to ask that question more than anyone else.

What are your thoughts? Do you like Bernie Sanders? Leave us your comments by clicking the comment button at

© 2016 Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo Courtesy: Mark Curtis Media

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