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“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- August 30, 2015

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(Atlantic City, New Jersey) – The “Brunch” is on a road trip this weekend in New Jersey. For so long the Garden State has looked like it would be a real player in the 2016 Presidential campaign – with Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) as a candidate – but all of a sudden, the whole campaign dynamic has changed. Let’s brunch on that this week.

“Trumping Christie” – Chris Christie made a name for himself by being combative. He’d gladly take on the press, or some ill-informed voter at a town hall meeting. He could be brusque and downright mean. But people loved his feistiness. People love to see reporters whacked like a piñata now and then, and Christie obliged. But suddenly Donald Trump has stolen Christie’s press-bashing franchise, and has co-opted the whole shtick.

“The Hug Heard ‘Round the World!” – In October 2012, with just weeks to go before the election, New Jersey and other East Coast states were slammed by Hurricane Sandy. Christie – who rode on Marine One – surveyed the damage with President Obama. The brash Governor was even photographed hugging the President who was widely unpopular on the right of the political spectrum. Yes, Christie’s thanks were sincere, but was the hug a mistake for which people never forgave? Christie was reelected a year later, but nationally the damage may have been done.

“Bridgegate” – In September 2013 – just two months before his reelection vote – some lanes approaching the George Washington Bridge into New York were closed for what one aide claimed was a traffic study. The traffic gridlock nightmare which ensued was dubbed, “Bridgegate.” Three of Christie’s former aides were charged; with two awaiting trial, and another pleading guilty. The whole mess was supposedly in retaliation to the Mayor of Fort Lee, who did not endorse Christie for reelection. While the Governor claimed he had no part in the scandal, and did not order the lane closures, the indictments of three close former aides hurt him. Yes, he won reelection at home, but nationally his image was tarnished.

“Poll Plummet” – The mantra I always tell my students is, “Politics is as much about math, as it is about ideology.” The bottom line being that you can have the greatest political idea in the world (the ideology), but if you don’t have enough votes to support you (the math), then you aren’t going to win. Trump has stolen Christie’s “anger ideology” and the poll results, i.e. ‘the math,” doesn’t add up. The latest Quinnipiac University Poll in Pennsylvania – Christie’s neighboring state – has Trump the preferred Republican candidate with 24 percent of the vote, to just 2 percent for Christie.

“But, Can Anyone in the GOP Win NJ?” – In the past six Presidential elections, New Jersey went for the Democratic nominee each time. In the six elections prior to that – from1968 to 1988 – New Jersey went Republican. But to many, that’s ancient history. In 2016, Hillary Clinton of New York – if she is the Democratic nominee – may have a strong pull in New Jersey. Governor Christie who has won twice statewide, may have been the GOP’s only hope to win the Garden State. Yes, Donald Trump is a New Yorker, like Clinton, but some of his failed local business dealings may hurt him in his own backyard.

“Cheering the Wrong Team?” – I always say the worst political wounds are usually self-inflicted. Last year Christie was in a skybox with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, openly cheering for the Cowboys. The Cowboys are the arch rivals of division-mates Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants, two of the three NFL teams with a huge New Jersey audience. Locals were angry that Christie backed the Cowboys – and weeks later he was in Green Bay cheering on the Cowboys against “America’s Team” – the Packers. Yes, I know sports and politics should not mix, but they do, and Christie angered many in Wisconsin – a state he probably could have won.

“Is He Toast?” – Look it’s early. Remember in 2012 the frontrunner changed many times in the GOP field. It went from Michele Bachman, to Newt Gingrich, to Herman Cain, to Rick Santorum, to Ron Paul, and ultimately to Mitt Romney. In 2016 – despite Trump’s early and commanding lead – the same thing could happen. It’s still a long way to Iowa and New Hampshire.

“Christie’s Future?” – Assuming he won’t be the nominee, Christie should certainly be under consideration for Attorney General. He built a reputation as a tough prosecutor while serving as U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey from 2002 through 2008. He also has a shot at the U.S. Senate seat now occupied by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ). Christie is termed-out as Governor, and Menendez – who is under a federal corruption indictment – is up for reelection in 2018, and Christie would be a formidable opponent. Bottom line: Chris Christie is only 52 and will be viable for many Presidential and Senate election cycles to come. He’s a fighter, so don’t count him out!

What are your thoughts about Governor Chris Christie? They usually run very hot or very cold! Let us know your feelings by clicking the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2015 Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo courtesy: Mark Curtis

“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- August 23, 2015

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(Charleston, West Virginia) – The "Brunch" is on the road again this week in the Mountain State! I’ve been wondering of late who Hillary Clinton might pick as a Vice Presidential running mate, should she win the Democratic nomination. There are various lists bouncing around the political chatter online, but let’s start by discussing a possible running mate from here in West Virginia:

“I Owe Ya’ Joe!” – In many respects, politics is about paybacks and returning favors. I know people find that unseemly, but it’s just part of the business. Secretary Clinton owes a great debt of gratitude to Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). When she ran for President back in 2008, Manchin – then Governor of West Virginia – was one of her biggest supporters. In fact, he helped deliver a primary victory for Clinton with a whopping 42-point margin over Senator Barack Obama (D-IL). Manchin is perhaps the most conservative Democrat in the U.S. Senate, so he’d give the ticket ideological balance. West Virginia could be a swing state in 2016, so its five Electoral College votes might matter in a tight race. This is coal country; and the miners – who held a huge protest rally last week – are critical voters (photo above).

“Double-Trouble” – For the first time in my lifetime – and perhaps in history – twins are being considered for Vice President. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro is the former Mayor of San Antonio, Texas. At 40, he seems to have a bright future in the Democratic Party. He is said to be Mrs. Clinton’s number-one choice, but it’s really too early to handicap the pick. His twin brother is Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX). Either Castro brother will have appeal to the critical Hispanic vote and will give Democrats a more competitive chance in the traditional red state of Texas.

“Raising Kaine” – Another interesting possibility is Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), who is also a former Governor of Virginia. He also served as Lieutenant Governor and was Mayor of Richmond prior to that. He has that rare advantage of having worked in local, state and federal government. Kaine is also from the key battleground state of Virginia, which went for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, but which otherwise hadn’t voted for a Democrat since President Johnson in 1964. It is a crucial swing state now, and Kaine could help keep it blue.

“It’s a Woman’s World” – There is speculation that Mrs. Clinton might pick another woman for a running mate. Names mentioned include Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). I think it’s a longshot. The U.S. may be on the verge of electing its first female President, but it’s still a difficult road ahead. Having two women on the ticket may hurt Democrats' chances among male voters (who still vote heavily Republican). Remember, elections nowadays are won among independent voters, not party loyalists.

“O’Malley Rally” – From the start of the campaign, I predicted that former Governor Martin O’Malley (D-MD) would be the veep choice. He’s a former Mayor of Baltimore, too, so he brings a lot of experience to the table. I’ve always said that it’s likely the Clintons “recruited” O’Malley to run for President, so that Hillary would have someone to debate, but that ultimately he would be chosen as her running mate. I believe that scenario is still plausible.

“The Rahm-ba!” – It would be an odd dance, but some have suggested Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as a potential number two. Emanuel is a former White House Chief of Staff and Congressman. He may be the most fiercely partisan Democrat in America – a little too extreme to many who think more in terms of bipartisan governance. But Illinois is not a lock for native Hillary Clinton. Republicans shocked a lot of people by electing a new Governor there last year, and they hold one of the U.S. Senate seats. Despite Chicago’s crime problems, putting Emanuel on the ticket could put the Land of Lincoln in the blue state column again.

“Bernie Burnout?” – The big fascination right now is with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). He has pulled ahead of Secretary Clinton in New Hampshire, and is drawing huge crowds wherever he goes. Many Democrats feel that Sanders has earned the number-two slot and could deliver a lot of disenfranchised voters come November of 2016. Still, Sanders self-identifies as a socialist; and someone who is to the left of the liberal Clinton may not bring the ideological balance that a Senator Joe Manchin might. Then again, Sanders may have wide appeal to those all-important independent voters.

“Odd Men Out” – Some of the craziest – yet possible options – include keeping Vice President Joe Biden on for another term (VP has no term-limits), and Hillary Clinton selecting Bill Clinton as her running mate. Yes, it would be legal and constitutionally possible to have an ex-President on the ticket. (Remember Ronald Reagan considered picking Gerald Ford for VP in 1980.) But the Clinton-Clinton ticket idea is too weird, and I don’t think the voting public would buy it.

Who is your pick for Vice President if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee for President of the United States? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2015, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: Mark Curtis Media

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