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“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- April 3, 2016

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(Charleston, West Virginia) – Oh how I wish I was in my home state of Wisconsin! The Badger State is the next stop on the Presidential campaign trail, on Tuesday April 5. I’ve been there for so many, and am missing my hometown family and friends. Wisconsin is poised to be a critical turning point for both parties, so let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“On, Wisconsin!” – The latest poll from my alma mater – Marquette University – has the Republican primary at 40 percent for Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), 30 for businessman Donald Trump; and, 21 percent for Governor John Kasich (R-OH). That leaves nine percent undecided. There are 42 delegates in a “winner-takes-most” formula.

“The Democrats” – That same Marquette University Law School Poll has it 49 percent for Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and 45 percent for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with six percent undecided. There are 96 Democratic delegates up for grabs, delivered proportionally, with some super delegates in the mix.

“The Turning Point” – It would be fascinating if the two non-frontrunners win. Cruz and Sanders would get great momentum out of a Wisconsin victory. It might not guarantee them the nomination, but it muddies the waters, and makes people in key, upcoming states such as Pennsylvania scratch their heads and wonder, “Do I go for the underdog, who now has the momentum?” Make no mistake, my bet is on a Trump v. Clinton race, but Wisconsin may be the last state where votes can turn the tide by saying, “Now wait just a minute!”

“Delegate Totals” – Right now on the Republican side the delegate totals read: Trump 736; Cruz 463; and, Kasich 143. If Cruz is going to make a final dash to beat Trump, it has to start Tuesday in Wisconsin. Presently, Cruz s not polling well in the upcoming key states of New York and Pennsylvania, so he needs momentum now. As I’ve said for weeks, Kasich is just in this to get the VP slot on the ticket; that’s his only hope.

“Dem Delegates” – Bernie Sanders has a similar path as Cruz, but Wisconsin is the turning point where you turn on the jets, or you flame out. As of now, Hillary Clinton has1,243 delegates; to 980 for Bernie Sanders.

“Social Issues, Not!” – This is the year where national security and terrorism will be the big issues, and may surpass the economy as the number one issue to most voters. Social issues are just a blip on the radar screen. So I was surprised that Donald Trump would say if abortion became illegal again, that women who’ve had them should be punished. Yes, he walked back those remarks to say that doctors – and not the women – should be punished, but by then the self-inflicted wound was done. Trump’s greatest gift is that he speaks off the cuff, and unscripted. That’s also his Achilles heel. You can’t walk into an interview with someone who’s been around as long as Chris Matthews and let your guard down. The comments may seal Trump’s fate in Wisconsin.

“The Maverick State” – Wisconsin has a history of sending some mavericks to public office. Senator “Fighting” Bob La Follette, Senator Joe McCarthy, Senator Bill Proxmire, Governor Lee Dreyfus, and, Senator Herb Kohl are among them. The fact that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus also hail from the Badger State should tell you something. Wisconsin likes its unpredictable, but independent streak, and it may show it again on Tuesday so watch out!

“Why this State Matters!” -- Wisconsin is almost always listed as one of the key, battleground states in every Presidential election, and 2016 will not be an exception. It was crucial to John Kennedy in 1960, and critical to Barack Obama in 2008. What happens in both parties on Tuesday matters, and it will matter again in November. The Badger State will also be crucial in terms of who controls the U.S. Senate as former Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) is locked in a tough rematch with Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI). Keep your eye on the Cheesehead State! (That’s me and my book about the 2008 campaign, standing outside the historic “Mars Cheese Castle” in Kenosha, Wisconsin).

For whom are you cheering in the Presidential race? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2016, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: Tierney Curtis for Mark Curtis Media, LLC

“The Sunday Political Brunch” March 27, 2016

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(Charleston, West Virginia) – It’s Easter Weekend, and there were perhaps hopes of a kinder, gentler campaign for awhile, but that isn’t likely to happen. There is a lull in the primary campaign, but it will be short-lived in what has become the nastiest of political seasons. I’d like to say that campaign 2016 has “laid an egg” (pardon the pun), and maybe it has - given the season. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“Trump Stump” -- It started when someone – a political action committee or opposing operative - posted a picture of Donald Trump’s wife Melania in a nearly-nude pose from years ago when she was a model. It spread like wildfire on social media, and Trump blamed Cruz for the photo going public. Trump threatened to "spill the beans" about Cruz's wife Heidi, but no real details about that emerged, other than gossip in "The National Enquirer."

"Cruz Responds" - "Our spouses and children are off bounds,” Cruz told reporters while campaigning in Wisconsin. “It is not acceptable for a big, loud New York bully to attack my wife. It is not acceptable for him to make insults, to send nasty tweets.” Then Cruz said, “Donald, you’re a sniveling coward. Leave Heidi the hell alone.”

“First Time?” – People act as if attacks on political spouses have never happened before, but they have. Many Democrats did not like Nancy Reagan in 1980 and 1984; and many Republicans did not like Hillary Clinton in 1992 and 1996. They both received harsh criticism, and aren’t the only spouses who have been attacked. But, it was always from surrogates, advocacy groups, or members of the opposing party. Campaign 2016 is unique in that this is the first time that I can recall where candidates heaved direct attacks on an opponent’s spouse. Wow!

“Delegate Count: Republican” -- To win the nomination, a Republican candidate must earn 1,237 delegates. As of today, here is the count: Trump 739; Cruz 465; and Kasich 143. Of the remaining delegates, Trump needs to win 55 percent to win the nomination; Cruz would need to win 80 percent; and Kasich would need to win 120 percent, which - of course - is impossible. There exists the possibility no one will reach 1,237 before the July convention in Cleveland.

“Delegate Count: Democrats” – To win the nomination, a Democratic candidate must earn 2,125 delegates. As of today, here is the count: Clinton 1,712 and Sanders 1,004. Sanders closed the gap with decisive wins in Alaska, Hawaii and Washington State. Hillary Clinton needs to win only 35 percent of remaining delegates to secure the nomination. Bernie Sanders needs to win over 50 percent in each remaining state to be the nominee.

“Next Stop” – The next big event on the campaign trail is Tuesday, April 5, in Wisconsin, where 96 Democratic delegates and 42 Republican delegates are up for grabs.

Have a great Easter weekend, and please leave your comments by clicking the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2016, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: cbs.com

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