“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- March 11, 2012

Mark Super Tuesday 2012.JPG

(Providence, Rhode Island) – Super Tuesday has come and gone, but now we will have a series of primaries over the next six weeks that some will call “Junior Tuesday!” There is nothing junior about them. They are a big deal, starting this week!

“Heading South” - There are four primaries this week: Mississippi, Alabama, Hawaii and American Samoa. The two Southern states are the most important. There are lots of pollsters these days, but I think Scott Rasmussen is among the best. His latest poll in Alabama has it Gingrich 30 percent, Santorum 29 percent, Romney 28 percent. Wow! Next door in Mississippi, Rasmussen has it Romney 35 percent, with Gingrich and Santorum at 27 percent apiece.

“In or Out?” – There is a lot of speculation (especially within his own campaign) that Newt Gingrich has to win at least one of the Southern states on Tuesday or he is done. I tend to agree but think he’ll live on even if he finishes a close second in both. My bet is that Gingrich has legs through the March 24 primary in Louisiana; but with that being the last Southern primary for a while, he has to do well in his own backyard, or he’s done by the end of March.

“Delegate Watch!” – Super Tuesday had mixed results; and on Saturday Santorum won Kansas, while Romney won primaries in the U.S. Pacific Territories. What really matters now is not the number of primaries won, but rather the total delegates collected. The latest CNN Delegate Tracker has Romney leading with 444 delegates, Santorum with 202, Gingrich with 115, and Ron Paul with 66. This may prompt more suggestions for Gingrich to drop out. He and Santorum have a combined 317 delegates, a total that would make the conservative wing of the party competitive with the more moderate Romney.

“It’s a Lonely Job” – I often compare the job of the President to that of the Maytag repairman, who complained in the old TV commercials that he had the loneliest job in the world. President Obama sits in the Oval Office, with unemployment holding steady at 8.3 percent, gas prices at modern day highs, and two ugly incidents causing anti-American backlash in Afghanistan. Then there are the pressures over what to do about Syria and Iran. As with previous Presidents, Mr. Obama has influence over some issues and no control over some others. All American Presidents get judged (fairly, or not) by what happens while they are in office, getting credit and blame for things that occur totally out of their control. As I always say, it’s one thing to campaign for the Presidency and quite another to have the job.

“There You Go Again!” – That famous debate line from Ronald Reagan reminds me that this year’s election is a lot like the 1980 race. Despite an economy nearly as bad as we have now, and anti-American turmoil in the Mideast, Jimmy Carter was ahead in the polls most of the year, as the Republicans held a combative primary season with lots of candidates. (Sound familiar?) The tide did not turn for Reagan until September, so despite President Obama’s lead now, you can bet advisers in the White House are going over what went wrong for the incumbent in 1980.

“Gipper II?” – Given what I just said about 1980, a lot of what changed the tide had to do with Reagan’s great public speaking skills and his charisma. While he was famous and wealthy in his own right, Reagan still had the touch of the common man. He built his career and fortune on his own - from nothing, into something. When I was in Boston Tuesday night for Mitt Romney’s victory rally (photo above), I thought about how he struggles to relate to the “Average Joe” - something which Reagan did so effectively. Romney’s speech was a rapid-fire attack on President Obama, covering a multitude of issues, and - at times - was more complicated than it needed to be. The popular appeal demonstrated by Reagan’s classic and simple question, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” is missing from the Romney campaign.

As always, if you have questions or comments, please click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com. This Thursday I will be on “The Ronn Owens Show” at 10 a.m. PDT on KGO Radio AM 810 in San Francisco. You can listen ‘live’ at www.KGORadio.com. On Friday I will be on ‘7 Live’ on KGO-TV ABC 7 in San Francisco with Brian Copeland!

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