“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- April 22, 2012

Callista Reads to Kids.jpg

(New York City) – Greetings from the Big Apple! I am here watching baseball and keeping an eye on the political world. There are five primaries this week, including New York, my home state of Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware. Here are some observations concerning the past week and the week ahead:

“Not Camera Ready” – I spent Tuesday covering Newt Gingrich’s wife Callista reading to kids in Middletown, Rhode Island. We had a nice conversation, talking politics and how we both grew up in Wisconsin. Still, she would not do an on-camera interview with me, even though she did radio and newspaper interviews later in the day. “I’m not prepared to do a TV interview,” said Callista Gingrich, who had perfectly coiffed hair and a sharp outfit (photo above). It’s weird; she looked great and had the campaign lines down pat. Note to campaign handlers: When your candidate is behind, don’t turn down free TV exposure (All of our stories are then posted on the Internet, too).

“Conservative Turnout” – Tuesday will mark the first five primaries to be held since Rick Santorum dropped out of the race. Now, Newt Gingrich is the only conservative left, so this is his best shot to perhaps pick up some of those Santorum delegates and to make a final “Hail Mary Pass” at the nomination. Gingrich has been focusing on the primaries ahead in May in the more conservative states, including Texas and North Carolina, while his wife has been campaigning in the more politically moderate Northeast. Again, another reason why she should be doing TV interviews.

“New Hampshire Primary, Part II” – I was stunned to find out that Mitt Romney will be holding his victory rally this week in Manchester, New Hampshire, of all places. You’ll recall he already won the first-in-the-nation Granite State primary back on January 10. So why the return visit? I would have thought he would hold that rally right here in New York City and make himself look larger on the national stage. Pennsylvania is not an option since, if Romney wins there, he would appear to be “spiking the football” on Rick Santorum. Romney’s rally is billed as “A Better America Begins Tonight,” so I assume he will claim the nomination Tuesday (even though he’ll still be short the delegate count needed to officially clinch the nomination). All in all, I would have picked Manhattan over Manchester.

“On the Other Hand!” – There might be a method to Romney's madness for choosing New Hampshire for his national campaign kick-off. It is a swing state, having gone Republican in 1980, 1984 and 1988, before swinging to the Democrats back in 1992 and 1996. George W. Bush won the Granite State in 2000, but then lost it in 2004. Barack Obama won there in 2008. Yes, I know it’s only four electoral votes, but I think 2012 will be won by a one-state margin, just like the 2000 and 2004 contests. Every state, every electoral vote matters. Since Romney spends a lot of time at his New Hampshire home and was Governor of neighboring Massachusetts, he really needs to win the Granite State, which is currently rated as a toss-up in most polls.

“Vice President Rubio” – Much speculation has focused throughout the campaign on whether Mitt Romney would choose a prominent Hispanic as his running mate. First on the potential VP list is Senator Marco Rubio (R) Florida. Rubio has repeatedly rejected the idea. But this week during a televised interview he slipped, saying, “If I do a good job as Vice President...." He caught himself; and he, the audience and the host laughed. As much as he denies it, Rubio may get the nod, as Republicans probably need to win Florida in order to win the White House. MSNBC did a fascinating panel discussion today on the importance of the Latin vote; and that vote is going to be crucial in this campaign.

I will definitely be in Rhode Island for Tuesday’s primary, but may wind up in New Hampshire; so stay tuned for my coverage here and on WLNE-TV ABC 6.

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