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“The Sunday Political Brunch”—March 20, 2016

Sunday, March 20, 2016


I started writing this column when I was in Ohio two weeks ago prepping for that state’s primary, as well as when I was covering the Kentucky Republican Caucuses. It struck me about an old saying I’ve used often in newsrooms, classrooms, and in media interviews: “Politics is as much about the math, as it is about the ideology!” In light of where we are at on the Presidential campaign, let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“Cruz + Rubio” – If former candidate Marco Rubio endorsed Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), they would have a combined 587 delegates, within striking distance to the 678 delegates held by Donald Trump. Assuming neither Trump, nor Cruz got to the 1,237 delegate nominating threshold, we’d likely see a brokered convention this summer.

“Cruz + Rubio + Kasich” – Now if Cruz and Rubio could convince Governor John Kasich (R-OH) to join their team as well, their delegate total would rise to 730, and they’d be ahead of Trump. Cruz would likely have to offer Kasich the VP slot on the ticket, and promise to campaign for Rubio for Governor of Florida in 2018. The problem with these first two scenarios is that Cruz and Rubio despise each other. But, on the plus side they’d take a huge chunk of the Hispanic vote, probably enough to carry Texas, Florida, and Ohio in November.

“Cruz + Kasich” – Like him or not, John Kasich is one of these “go along, to get along” type politicians. If he joined forces with Cruz, (but without Rubio), they’d have 566 delegates, within striking distance of Trump. Like the theoretical “Cruz-Rubio” team, the “Cruz-Kasich” team likely means a brokered convention.

“Trump + Kasich” – I’ve seen several projections that put Trump at 1,100 delegates in July; just short of the 1,237 needed for nomination. If he teams up with Kasich, the Ohio Governor’s 143 delegates put Trump over the top. As with Cruz, Trump would have to offer Kasich the VP job, to seal the deal

“Trump + Cruz” – Now this is a fascinating proposition. Talk about a shotgun marriage! The two men do not like each other, and you’d be hard-pressed to fit their two out-sized egos into one room. But they are both party outsiders, and that may galvanize their support against the GOP establishment, which despises them both. They’d do great with independents, but would enough rank and file Republicans support them in November? This is a bold, but dicey proposition at best.

“Trump + ???” – Who else would pair well with Trump? He needs to shore up female voters, but pairing him with Carly Fiorina isn’t going to happen because first, they don’t like each other; and second, you can’t have a ticket where both candidates have never held political office. I scratch my head, wondering who else Trump would pick. Governor Nicki Haley (R-SC) is a possibility, although she backed Rubio in the primary and hit Trump very hard.

“Brokered Convention” – I am beginning the think Republicans will, in fact, have a brokered convention this July in Cleveland. And, no matter who wins that convention, I believe the party will be too wounded and battered, to win in November. Democrats – I bet – are cheering for GOP convention chaos. The Democrats had their own disastrous convention in Chicago back in 1968, and it was one of the factors why they lost the White House that year.

“Clinton + Clinton = 5” – Sometimes math defies logic. In theory, one Clinton plus one Clinton, would equal two. But former President Bill Clinton adds a dynamic to his wife’s chances. A lot of people who are lukewarm to her, just adore him. This is particularly true in heavily-populated African-American communities. I covered Bill Clinton a lot when he campaigned for Hillary in 2008. He was so passionate about wanting Hillary to win, that I wrote in my book that he wanted to move back into the White House more than she did. I believe that is still true today. As I said, it’s as if the equation is Clinton + Clinton = 5.

“8 + 1 = 0” -- Another part of the Presidential campaign math now concerns Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. Republicans are holding steady on their promise that there will be no confirmation hearings or votes on Judge Garland. This is going to become a huge campaign issue in the fall, especially if we see a lot of 4 to 4 deadlocked Supreme Court rulings by the end of June. This is a risky strategy for the Republicans, who could lose not only the White House, but also control of the Senate in the process.
Republicans may have to rethink this. Do they accept the moderate-centrist Garland, or do they face a much more liberal Justice if Hillary Clinton wins in November?

“Why All of This Matters” – The short-term goal in 2016 is to win an election. The long-term goal is to shape the nation’s political agenda for perhaps the next generation. Sometimes elections are about control of the White House and Congress, but this time you have the added specter of the Supreme Court balance swinging. In my lifetime, I’ve never seen all three branches of government in play, at the very same time. It’s fascinating!

What are your predictions on the 2016 Presidential campaign, and the Vice Presidential spots on the tickets. Please click the comment button at http://www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.


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