The Ever-Evolving Presidential Campaign Changes Again – “Sunday Political Brunch” - October 6, 2019


CHARLESTON, W. Va. – Just when it seemed like the presidential campaign was getting stagnant, there are a whole bunch of new twists and turns. After three rounds of debates, former Vice President Joe Biden was holding a steady lead, but all a sudden things are in flux, on many fronts. Let’s “brunch” on that this week.

“Sanders Health Scare” – Senator Bernie Sanders (I) Vermont was taken to a Las Vegas hospital this week after some alarming discomfort in his chest. After tests were done, there was blockage in an artery of his heart and two stents were inserted. His campaign says he’s off the trail until further notice, but remember the next big debate is in Ohio on October 15th. Everyone responds differently to this - and on a personal note - I had similar surgery in June on a Friday and was back at work Monday. I’m 18 years younger than Sanders, but he’s a passionate energetic guy, and I fully anticipate he’ll make the debate.

“Is This the Age of the Senior?” – Bernie Sanders is 78, the oldest candidate in the race. But this is the most senior field the nation has ever pondered. Joe Biden is 76, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D) Massachusetts is 70. President Trump is 73. Some people thought Ronald Reagan was too old to be president being elected at the age of 69 and re-elected four years later. Look, people are living longer, and modern medicine has more treatments and medicines. If candidates appear physically healthy and mentally sharp, I don’t think age will be an issue. Remember that those born in the “baby boom” generation are now between 55 and 73 years old and are not inclined to be fans of age discrimination. Competence, not age, will define this issue.

“The Warren Bounce” – In my opinion, Senator Warren has been the most solid and consistent performer through all three rounds of debates. She’s been steady as she goes. Now that’s not an endorsement of her policies and positions, but rather an assessment of her performance on a crowded stage, with a lot of grenades being lobbed. She can throw a punch and take a punch.

“What Say the Polls?” – The polls are starting to shift, and in some cases dramatically. I believe it has a lot to do with Warren’s three solid debate performances. She’s about the only candidate where you can say, “She had a really good night,” at all the debates. The Real Clear Politics national composite poll now has it Biden 26.1 percent, Warren 24.4 and Sanders at 16.7. More striking – since there's no national primary – is what we are seeing in the first two primary/caucus states. Warren has surged ahead in Iowa with 23 percent, to 20.3 percent for Biden, and Sanders at 12 percent. In New Hampshire Biden still leads with 23.2 but Warren is at 21 and Sanders at 17.2 Biden and Sanders have been losing support, while Warren is gaining.

“Impeach This!” – I am trying to get my arms around the political strategy of impeachment right now, as a tactical campaign issue. I’ve left the Constitutional and legal issues up to others for now, while I assess tactics. Democrats seem in a hurry, many even wanting a vote by December. This whole thing could be over by Christmas, with the House impeaching, but the Senate acquitting. Call me crazy but wouldn’t the Democrats want to drag this out, at least through the primary season which ends around June 1? That keeps it on the front pages, especially while people are out campaigning and debating. If you dispatch it too fast, the public may snooze. In that vein, let me talk about “Exhibit A.”

“Exhibit A: The Power of Prominence” – In early October 2016, the infamous “Access Hollywood” tapes were released. Like many other political analysts, I thought Trump was done and would lose by a significant margin. The story was huge for a few days but then faded from prominence. Yes, it was shocking to hear Trump talk about kissing and grabbing the private parts of women he barely knew. But in the 24-hour news cycle, many stories have the shelf-life of a loaf of bread and go stale within days. That is not to minimalize the significance of sexual improprieties, which is quite a serious issue. But I think many Democrats assumed Trump was done as well, and they did not hammer home this point and drive a nail in his political coffin. By the time a full month had passed, the story faded and he escaped like a political Houdini.

“The Next Debate!” – The next Democratic debate is in Westerville, Ohio, near Columbus on October 15th. There will be 12 candidates on stage making it the largest faceoff yet. By the way, keep an eye on Senator Sherrod Brown (D) Ohio. This is a key swing-state and a must-win for Republicans to keep the White House. Brown has got to be on the vice-presidential short list for any potential presidential nominee.

Is your support for any candidate shifting? If so, who are you leaving, and who are you now backing? Just click the comment button.

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia, its five neighboring states and most of the Washington, D.C. media market. He is a National Contributing Writer for “The White House Patch” at

© 2019, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: Getty Images

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