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“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- July 24, 2016


(Cleveland, Ohio) – The Republican National Convention is in the books, and now it’s on to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Both candidates have picked running mates. Pretty soon we’ll be in full-bore campaign mode, heading to November. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“Citizen Kaine” – It comes as no surprise that Hillary Clinton has picked Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA)to be her running mate. He has a great resume: Mayor of Richmond; Lt. Governor of Virginia; Governor of Virginia; and now U.S. Senator. He was also chairman of the Democratic National Committee for two years. A 58-year-old, Harvard-educated lawyer, he’s a seasoned political pro who could step in and be President.

“The Electoral Math” – I think Kaine was a good choice for the Democrats; and Mike Pence was a good choice for the Republicans. Both bring extensive leadership and experience to the table. You want that in the Vice President, in case the worst happens. Pence will probably secure Indiana’s 11 Electoral College votes for the GOP ticket, but Kaine's home state is not as secure for the Democrats. The Old Dominion was a “red state” from 1968 through 2004 in Presidential races, but Barack Obama won it in 2008 and 2012. It’s a battleground state - with 13 Electoral College votes - that remains up for grabs; but, for now, I’ll say it leans Democrat. The bottom line, the net advantage is two Electoral College votes for the Democrats.

“Si!” – Another big asset Kaine brings is that he is fluent in Spanish and speaks it at many rallies, as well as in social media. No, he is not Hispanic; but when you can speak the same language, you can connect with people in a unique and personal way. Remember, the Latin vote is the fastest growing demographic in the electorate. Swing states, such as Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada, used to be solidly “red” but President Obama won all three in 2008, and again in 2012. Each has a rapidly growing Hispanic voter pool. Subtleties matter. Kaine’s bilingual skills may also help Democrats in the two most crucial states: Florida and Ohio.

“Trump Stump” – I thought Donald Trump gave a very good acceptance speech. It was the most forceful address I have ever seen him give. It was also the most disciplined address, as it was scripted and in a teleprompter (although you could tell he would ad lib when he felt the need). The tone was angry from the start to finish, but I’m not saying that in a critical way. In fact, I believe it was an asset. Trump was successful this year (as was Bernie Sanders) in tapping into the considerable anger in the American public, so I give him points for that. My overall grade: B.

“I’m Mad as Hell and I’m Not Going to Take It Anymore” – That was the famous line from network news anchor Howard Beale in the movie “Network.” The acclaimed film won numerous Academy Awards. But in the movie, Beale “articulates the popular rage,” as it was referred to often. The problem was that no solution to assuage the rage was ever offered. People were just encouraged to open their windows and vent about how mad they were. Trump hit that same nerve, but never laid out any concrete battle plans as to how to turn the anger into action. Had he done so, my grade would have been an A.

“Odds and Ends” – Political conventions are carnival side shows in a lot of ways. All kinds of colorful characters show up, and an endless number of people are there to “pitch stories” to the press. One woman asked me if I’d like an opportunity to interview a young lady “to get the perspective of the election from a 14-year-old’s point of view.” Really? She’s not even old enough to vote, and she’s a juvenile. I just found it odd and exploitive; so I passed.

“Hair-Spray Gate!” – I have never been comfortable with the amount of hair spray and makeup I have to wear for my job. It’s kind of silly, but necessary. As I went through the security screening on Tuesday, a female Secret Service agent confiscated my hair spray because it was in an aerosol can. I politely pleaded that I needed it for work. The woman’s male supervisor suddenly interjected, asking, “What kind of work do you do?” I told him I worked in television. “Are you on-air?” he asked; and I responded "Yes." “Okay sir, you can keep it, but please go buy a pump spray bottle for next time,” he said. It was a very funny exchange, especially with the male agent coming to my defense!

“Cleveland Rocks!” – That’s the name of a famous song by British singer-songwriter Ian Hunter. Even though I grew up in Wisconsin, I had never been to Ohio until late last year, and this was my first trip to Cleveland. The city on Lake Erie has always been the butt of comedians’ jokes, but I loved Cleveland. The theatre district is spectacular, and the lake has been cleaned up over the years. Some nice restaurants catered the convention, so there is a culinary buzz. I missed the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame party, but I can’t wait to go visit again as a tourist. Nice city; I was impressed!

I’ll have more from Philadelphia next Sunday. Share your comments at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2016 Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo courtesy: cbs.com

“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- July 17, 2016


(Portsmouth, Ohio) -- It’s off to Cleveland for the Republican National Convention, and then on to Philadelphia for the Democrats. Political conventions are mostly scripted these days, a far cry from the “smoke-filled rooms” and drama that often played out on the national stage in the 1950s and '60s. A lot has already happened this past week, so let’s “brunch” on that:

“Feeling Berned” – Bernie Sanders finally endorsed Hillary Clinton this week at a rally in New Hampshire. He was fully sincere and enthusiastic, in my opinion; yet, many of his own supporters weren’t buying it. I’ve seen various polls showing that anywhere from 9 to 15 percent of Sanders’s supporters will not cross over and support Clinton. Back in May, CBS News had its much-talked-about exit poll in West Virginia that showed 44 percent of Sanders voters were planning to vote for Trump if Clinton should be the nominee. One Sanders backer told me this week, “I’ll just write in Bernie’s name in November.”

“Trump’s Bump” – Traditionally, candidates get a bump in the polls from their convention week and the naming of their Vice-Presidential running mates. The latest Real Clear Politics Composite Poll (taken before the announcement of Mike Pence as Trump's VP) shows Hillary Clinton with a lead over Trump of just 2.7 percent. Her lead has shrunk in recent weeks, and she and Trump are now in a statistical tie. My guess is that Trump may pull slightly ahead during his convention week.

“Pence Analysis” – Here’s the short bio: Governor Pence is a 57-year-old lawyer. He is about to complete his first term as Governor of Indiana. Prior to that, he served 12 years in Congress, including a stint in the Republican leadership. He is much more conservative than Trump; and that gives him more appeal to the party base, which is very guarded in its feelings about whether Trump is a true conservative. The biggest asset Pence brings is experience, especially in being able to navigate the murky waters of Washington, D.C. He fits the pattern of previous VP nominees Walter Mondale, George H.W. Bush, Al Gore, Dick Cheney, and Joe Biden, in that regard.

“Indiana Wants Me” – The Hoosier State is not a big player in the Electoral College, with just 11 votes, but it’s a state Republicans must have. It has traditionally been the most conservative of the Midwestern states, but Barack Obama carried it in 2008 (only to lose it back to the GOP in 2012). The last Democrat to carry Indiana prior to Obama was Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Before that, it was Franklin Roosevelt in 1936. In short, Indiana is one of the most reliable “red" states.

“Clinton VP?” -- Various sources indicate that Hillary Clinton has whittled her list down to Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), and former Governor Tom Vilsack (D-IA). Okay, you can eliminate Brown, Booker and Warren, because each is from a state with a Republican Governor. If any of these becomes Vice President, they will be replaced in the Senate by a Republican, and that could keep the upper chamber barely in GOP control. Both Virginia and Iowa are key battleground, swing states that Clinton needs to win. I predict her choice will be Kaine.

“Timing Is Everything” – The big question for Clinton is when she should make her announcement. Some believe it should come mid-week, to steal some of the thunder away from Republicans. In 2008, you’ll recall, John McCain announced Sarah Palin the morning after the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Suddenly, Obama’s soaring speech at Mile High Stadium the night before was an afterthought. McCain had stolen the headlines and Obama’s momentum, at least for a few weeks, before Palin began to implode. For sheer drama, I think Clinton should go back to the age-old practice of keeping her VP choice a secret until the convention. But my bet is that she will announce it this coming Friday or Saturday.

“Security Is the Issue” – I have been saying for months that national security would vault to the top of the issues list. Normally, the economy is the top issue in a national election; but, given recent violence and terrorism in places such as Nice, Istanbul, Orlando, Paris, Brussels, Mali and San Bernardino, I believe domestic and international security will be the biggest concern for voters.

What’s your top issue? Just let us know by clicking the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2016, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: cbsnews.com

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