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“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- December 14, 2014

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(Cape Cod, Massachusetts) – I am on the road this week, working on the filming of a major motion picture produced by Disney. I’ll have more details on that soon, but since I am in the Bay State this weekend, I thought we might talk more about indications that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney might make a third run for the White House in 2016. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“Third Time the Charm?” – Mitt Romney himself has made no recent comments suggesting he might reconsider a run for President in 2016. However, people close to Romney are cited in several recent reports suggesting the 2012 GOP nominee is unimpressed with the current field of prospective Republican candidates, and is also emboldened by reports suggesting that many 2012 voters who cast ballots for President Obama, now wish they had chosen Romney. It seems clear that Romney has probably not shut the door to 2016 entirely.

“A Brief History of Multiple Campaigns” – Repeat nominees and candidates have not fared well in American politics. William Jennings Bryan was a three-time Democratic nominee for President; Harold Stassen ran 12 times for the Republican nomination (a few serious campaigns, but most were novelty runs); and, Eugene V. Debs ran five times as the Socialist Party nominee, but none of these men ever became President. In more recent history Romney is joined by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and former Senator Bob Dole (R-KS), in having run twice for President and lost. So, a third Romney run comes with the risk of a “been there; done that” reaction by the public.

“On the Other Hand” – Richard Nixon may go down in history as one of the most die-hard American politicians. Having lost his bid for the White House to President Kennedy in 1960, Nixon embarked on an ill-fated run for California Governor in 1962. His famous line after losing that race was, “You don’t have Nixon to kick around any more.” Yet, as we all know, Nixon rose from the political ashes in 1968 and won the White House and was then reelected in 1972. Successful comebacks – though rare – can happen.

“The Obstacles” – Part of Nixon’s success was that in the old days, you could almost “erase history” if you wanted to. Failed elections can fade in public memory, and people can reinvent themselves. That is a much harder task in this modern Internet age. People can now search virtually every thing you ever said; every promise you failed to keep; and, every policy vote or position you ever made. The Internet has removed the “fig leaf” of politics. Romney’s very transparent life and business dealings were used against him very effectively in 2012. How would 2016 be any different?

“Voter Persuasion” – One thing you have to do successfully in a comeback bid, is to convince a lot of people who voted against you last time; to change their minds and vote for you next time. You have to “flip” key constituencies in order to win. The biggest challenge the Republican Party has these days is convincing enough Latino voters to cast ballots for the GOP. In 2012, The Hispanic vote was 71 percent for President Obama, to 27 percent for former Governor Mitt Romney. In 2008, Obama received 67 percent of the Latino vote, to 31 percent for John McCain. On the other hand, President George W. Bush won the White House in 2000 and 2004, with 40 percent and 35 percent of the Hispanic vote, respectively. Republican do not necessarily have to win a majority of Latino voters; they just need to be more competitive and take home a greater share to win the White House.

“Home Field Advantage” – I am fairly certain that no candidate has ever won the Presidency, without having won his home state. The moderate Romney was elected Governor of Massachusetts – one of the most liberal states in the nation – as a Republican. But in 2012, Obama swamped Romney in the Bay State, 61 to 38 percent. Massachusetts just elected Republican Charlie Baker as Governor, and maybe that can help Romney in 2016. The bottom line, you must win at home. That has to be your base from which to build!

What are your thoughts? Can Mitt Romney win the White House on his third try, or is he political toast in your book? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2014, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: ABC News

“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- December 7, 2014

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(Providence, Rhode Island) – Today is the 73rd anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which brought the United State into World War II. It remains one of the most profound days in U.S. history, with implications and lessons to this very day. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“By the Numbers” – The unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor killed 2,403 Americans, most of them military members. The single-event death toll was not surpassed on American soil until the September 11th attacks in 2001. Two U.S. battleships and 188 aircraft were completely destroyed. Seventeen other ships were severely damaged, and nearly 1,200 people were injured. By comparison, only 64 Japanese were killed; they lost only 29 aircraft; and four small submarines were destroyed. It was a very, very one-sided fight, but the tide would later turn dramatically mostly due to an undying American spirit.

“The Unsung Heroes” – With all the racial tension and hostility in the United States these days, it’s important to mention one of the first heroes of World War II. On December 7, 1941, Messman Third Class Doris “Dorie” Miller was cleaning up after serving breakfast on a ship in Pearl Harbor. Being kitchen help was about as high as an African-American service member might hope for in those days. As the attack on Pearl Harbor began, officers aboard the USS West Virginia, ordered Miller to grab a 50-caliber anti-aircraft gun, and he started firing at Japanese planes. He also carried his mortally wounded captain to safety, and then helped save the lives of numerous wounded sailors on deck. He was the first black sailor awarded the Navy Cross in World War II (the military’s third highest honor), pinned on him by legendary Admiral Chester Nimitz (photo above). Sadly, Miller would die in combat two years later.

“Rosie the Riveter” – The sudden onset of World War II sent many of the nation’s adult men to the fronts in Europe and the South Pacific. That meant that people were needed to fill factory jobs, shipyard openings, and assembly lines that produced weapons and equipment for the war effort. The task fell on American women. Female employment in the workforce nearly doubled – from 12 to 20 million – according to the Encyclopedia of American Economic History. In fact, the need was so severe that black women were recruited to work side by side with white women in many of the first integrated work places. The phrase “We can do it!” became a rallying cry in the female workforce.

“WPA” – As I mentioned a few weeks ago in my column about Presidential Executive Orders, the WPA (Works Progress Administration) became a prominent U.S. government employer from the Great Depression deep into World War II. From 1935 to 1943, it created eight million public works jobs, but they weren’t meaningless “make-work” jobs. The WPA built over 40,000 new buildings, many of them schools, libraries and recreation centers. It paved thousands of miles of roads and highways, installed water mains, and built firehouses. It constructed the backbone of American infrastructure, much of which is still in use today. It was finally disbanded in 1943 because so many workers were needed instead for war-related jobs.

“The Greatest Generation” – It was, in fact, the generation that saved this country, not only from the Great Depression but from World War II. My dad was among them. On December 7, 1941, he was a senior at Campion Jesuit High School in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. He would never formally finish high school, nor would he ever earn an undergraduate college degree. Because his dad was a doctor and my dad was planning to become one, too, he was sent directly to Marquette University for one year of undergraduate study and then year-round medical school. By age 22, he was a doctor and off to the Navy. It was that kind of dedication and sacrifice by tens of millions of Americans that won the war. Many families have similar stories.

“Why All of This Matters?” – The resolve to win World War II was not limited to a single sector of the population. Victory required every corner of a diverse and divergent nation to pitch together and make it happen. It took men and women – white, black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, etc. - to put aside their differences and work toward the collective good. The phrase “thinking outside the box” is a cliché these days, but that’s exactly what you had back in the 1940s, when someone suggested that most of the warships be built by women stateside. And that’s what you had when Japanese-Americans in internment camps were asked to help break Japanese enemy codes, which they did gladly for the very nation that now incarcerated them. This is the kind of collective “from-the- ground-up” leadership we need to solve many of today’s problems in the United States. We can - and should - do it to honor those who walked before us!

What are your thoughts about Pearl Harbor and what it means to our nation today? Let us know by clicking the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2014, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Navy Archives

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