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To Iowa, and Beyond! On the Presidential Campaign Trail – “Sunday Political Brunch” - August 11, 2019

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. – Our State Fair is now underway here in the Mountain State of West Virginia, but our friends in Iowa also have the same State Fair dates. Because of the “first in the nation” caucuses in the Hawkeye State, there will be 20-plus Democratic candidates kissing pigs, and eating deep-fried Twinkies, all to secure caucus votes next year. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“The National Trend” – According to the latest Real Clear Politics composite poll, Joe Biden leads with 31-percent, with Bernie Sanders at 15.8-percent, although both men are down slightly after this week. Elizabeth Warren has risen to 15.5-percent and is trending up. Kamala Harris is in fourth place at 8.3-percent, taking a dive after a rough second debate performance. Beto O’Rourke is not moving the needle much at 5.5-percent, and neither is Cory Booker at 2.3-percent.

“The Iowa Trend” – Of course the nationwide poll means nothing if you don’t perform well in the state with the first vote, Iowa. The Real Clear Politics composite poll in Iowa has Joe Biden leading at 25-percent and trending up. Elizabeth Warren is at 16-percent and is also moving up. Kamala Harris is at 14-percent but dropping. Bernie Sanders has 12-percent and is also declining. Mayor Pete Buttigieg is on the rise at 7-percent, and neighboring Minnesotan Amy Klobuchar has risen up to 3-percent.

“Only 3 or 4 Tickets!” – There’s an old political bromide when people chatter about the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primaries. You’ll often hear people say, “There are only three tickets out of Iowa,” or, “There are only three tickets out of New Hampshire!” In truth, it’s hard to imagine any more than three or four candidates surviving the first two contests, with the trail moving on to the Nevada Caucuses and the South Carolina Primary, before February ends. Every poll I’ve seen continues to show Biden, Sanders, Warren and Harris as the only viable candidates at this point in time.

“The Politics of Mass Shootings” – I apologize for even bringing this up. It’s unseemly as a nation grieves. My prayers are with the victims' families and their communities in El Paso and Dayton, both cities where I have done extensive broadcast work in my career. That said, we’ve seen a lot of former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) Texas this week, who represented El Paso during three terms in Congress. We’ve also seen much from Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) Ohio. Both men will be legitimate contenders for the vice-presidential slot on the Democratic ticket. Ohio is a must-win state for both parties, and Democrats believe Texas is vulnerable, given that O’Rourke nearly beat Sen. Ted Cruz (R) Texas in 2018. The politics of all of this is legitimate, although the timing and circumstances are so sad.

“The Dark Horse?” – Did I write off Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) Minnesota too early in my column last week? Could be! This week Klobuchar qualified to be the eighth candidate in next month’s ABC News Debates. She’s also risen to sixth-place with 3 percent of the vote in the latest Iowa polls. Yes, I think she remains a long-shot for the presidential nomination, but she is a legitimate contender for the vice-presidential slot on the ticket. Her Minnesota roots will have big appeal in the must-win neighboring states of Wisconsin and Iowa. As with O’Rourke and Brown, whom I mentioned above, keep Klobuchar on your short list for VP. Minnesota has a knack for sending vice presidents to Washington. Think Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale.

Who do you think would make a good vice president? Just click the comment button to make your voice heard!

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 Political Writer for “The White House Patch” at www.Patch.com.

© 2019, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: NPR.org

Cutting the Democratic Presidential Field -- Sunday Political Brunch - August 4, 2019

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. – Okay, we’ve now had debates on MSNBC and CNN, two nights a piece, fielding 20 candidates, in ten-person groupings. It’s too many, and unsustainable, given some upcoming debate rules. I think we’ll quickly see ten candidates depart the race by Labor Day. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“The Final Curtain Call” – I predict these are the ten who will get cut: author Marianne Williamson, former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) Colorado, Sen. Michael Bennet (D) Colorado, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D) Hawaii, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) New York City, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) New York, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) Minnesota, former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, Rep. Tim Ryan (D) Ohio, and Governor Steve Bullock (D) Montana.

“You're Safe, For Now!” – Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris (D) California, Sen. Cory Booker (D) New Jersey, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) Massachusetts, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) Vermont, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) South Bend, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) Texas, former Rep. John Delaney (D) Maryland, businessman Andrew Yang, and Gov. Jay Inslee (D) Washington.

“The Next Debate” – Democrats will gather again on September 12 (and possibly September 13), for the next debate in Houston. To qualify, a candidate must have at least 2 percent support in four separate polls. They must also have 130,000 individual donors. As of now seven candidates are in: Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Harris, O’Rourke, Sanders and Warren. The deadline to qualify is August 28. If ten or fewer candidates qualify, there will be only one night of debate.

“The Elimination Round” – Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Rep. Tim Ryan both had memorable moments in this week’s debates. Gabbard excoriated Senator Harris about her record as District Attorney and then Attorney General in California. It was as bad as Harris’s schooling of Joe Biden in the first debate. Harris was caught off-guard and knocked off-balance. But Gabbard’s polling numbers are in the weeds. Plus, she and Ryan have a big decision to make. They have safe seats in Congress, and they may just opt out of the presidential race to keep their day jobs.

“The Ying and Yang of It” – I predict businessman Andrew Yang stays in the race. He is independently wealthy, and he is a novelty candidate. His idea of giving many Americans $1,000 a month is quirky and unique. He’s polled as high as 2 percent in numerous polls so he may indeed qualify for the next debate. Like Godfather’s Pizza executive Herman Cain in 2012, Yang has caught the fancy of enough people to remain on the stage.

“The Fight for the Party’s Soul” – These four initial debates proved one thing. There is a fight for the soul of the Democratic party with progressive liberals such as Warren, Sanders and Harris on one side, with moderate-centrists Delaney, Ryan, and Bullock saying the liberals may win the nomination, but can’t beat Trump. The one moderate who can stay in the race is Delaney. He amassed a fortune in business, and since he’s no longer in Congress he has the time and money to fight an ideological battle. His big issue is the potential negative impact of Medicare-for-all proposals. He’s feisty, combative and knowledgeable. I say he stays in as his party’s foil.

“The One-Trick Pony” – He may come across as a single-issue candidate but Gov. Jay Inslee has picked an issue with legs – climate change. In fact, he’s the most passionate and vocal candidate on the issue. Some nights he’s the only one bringing it up. In truth he has other issues, such as leading the lawsuit that blocked Trump’s travel ban from seven predominately Muslim countries. Inslee won’t be the nominee, but he will be the party’s loudest environmental voice, and that may win him a promised cabinet spot with the eventual nominee.

“Here’s One to Watch” – Sen. Amy Klobuchar had a more vocal debate voice on CNN than she did in her meek MSNBC debate where she hardly got a word in edgewise (which I blame more on the moderators than the candidates). I see Klobuchar as a very serious vice-presidential contender. She could help the party win back her neighboring state of Wisconsin, which the Democrats must do to win the White House.

“A Better Biden” – The former vice president had a much better showing than the first debate, when he was pummeled by Senator Harris. In fact, as he walked out on the stage and greeted her Wednesday night he said, “Go easy on me, kid!” He was better prepared, and was more measured, although he still could be a bit more combative. My guess is he is trying to stay above the fray by portraying himself as a wise party elder. We’ll see if it works!

Who are you liking for the Democratic nomination and why? Weigh in by clicking 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 Political Writer for The White House Patch, at www.Patch.com.

© 2019, Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo courtesy: Getty Images

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