"The Sunday Political Brunch" - May 18, 2014 - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather


"The Sunday Political Brunch" - May 18, 2014

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By ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis 


(Providence, Rhode Island) – Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush dropped a hint Saturday that he may not be done with politics. In a college graduation speech in Pennsylvania he told the students, "If you feel inspired to serve your fellow citizens, don't let the ugliness of politics keep you from pursuing public office.” It has really stirred up the political chatter, especially if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee, posing a Bush-Clinton presidential rematch of 1992. Let’s “brunch” on that today:

“Bush Fatigue versus Clinton Fatigue” – There are plenty of people in both parties – and more importantly among the public at large – who have had their fill of the Bushes and the Clintons. Yet, both are viable, and will attract lots of money, volunteers and media buzz if they choose to run. So as much as some complain about “Bush and Clinton fatigue” the polls indicate potentially significant support for both candidacies. Who has the advantage? I’d call this fatigue-factor a tie. Advantage: Neutral.

“One for the Ages” – On Election Day in 2016, Jeb Bush will be 63 and Hillary Clinton will be 69. Presuming they are both in good mental and physical health, this should not be a factor. Sixty-nine used to be considered on the outer reaches of electability, but that ended with Ronald Reagan. Again, age is probably not a factor in this race. Advantage: Neutral.

“The Sunshine State” – One place where the “Bush factor” could be a big advantage is in the state of Florida, where he was twice elected Governor. Perhaps more importantly, Bush won the Hispanic vote in both elections. The point is, he could put Florida and its 29 Electoral College votes back in the Republican column for the first time since 2004. But, the Clinton name can’t be underestimated in Florida – where Bill Clinton won the state in 1996. But keep in mind, in 12 of the last 13 elections, whoever won Florida became President. The state is that important to the whole puzzle. Advantage: Bush.

“Gender Politics” – If there are two things we like in American politics, it is “new” and “different.” Yes, I know Hillary Clinton is hardly new to the scene, but she has the first legitimate shot to become the first female President. Being the first Catholic was a boost to John Kennedy, just as being the first African-American was a boost to Barack Obama. A lot of women, (and many men, too), would like to see the first woman in the White House. Remember, too, women vote in much higher numbers than men. Advantage: Clinton.

“The Pendulum Swings” – If history is any indication, the advantage may be more to a party, that to a person. In most elections where one party has held the White House for eight years, the other party usually wins the succeeding election. So we had a Democrat from 1993 to 2001; a Republican from 2001 to 2009; and now a Democrat from 2009 to 2017.  There have been six of these eight-year pendulum swings in my lifetime, and only once has the party in power kept the White House. That being when George H.W. Bush succeeded Ronald Reagan in 1988. Advantage: Republicans.

“The Resume Battle” – These are seasoned American political families. They are pros. They are cunning and calculating. Both candidates are experienced and qualified to be President. But does one have a perceived advantage? Hillary Clinton was first Lady for eight years; a U.S. Senator for eight years; and Secretary of State for four years. Jeb Bush was Governor of Florida for eight years. I always thought Jeb Bush could have rounded out his resume by running for U.S. Senate in Florida after he termed out as Governor, but he took a pass. He has spent significant time in the private sector, so he may try to leverage that. Advantage: Clinton.

“The Hispanic Factor” – As mentioned earlier, Bush’s popularity among Hispanics in Florida could help him win the Sunshine State. He may also do well in Texas, where his brother George was also popular among Hispanic voters. But Democrats have done considerably better with Latinos in California, and in key swing states such as New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado. Nationally in 2012, President Obama won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote. So, Bush must do better with the Latin vote outside of Florida and Texas, to win the White House. Advantage: Clinton.

“The Beer Poll” – The “likeability” factor will be key. That quadrennial poll that asks, “Which candidate would you like to join for a beer?” is a good barometer. Bush is a much better public speaker than his older brother and has exhibited more charm and personality. Anyone assuming he’ll be “George W. Lite” would be making a serious miscalculation. Hillary Clinton has always had a likability problem, but has added some self-deprecating barbs to her stump speech that show more personality emerging. I know – nuclear war and global economics are far more important issues – all I am saying is, personality matters. Advantage: Bush.

“Primary Colors” – Right now, Hillary Clinton has cleared the deck, and may not have any serious primary challengers. She has a stranglehold on money and manpower, unless she opts out. Even if another Democrat challengers her, it may end fast. On the other hand, there are at least ten prominent Republicans who have a realistic shot at the nomination, especially in a crowded, divided field. A bruising and expensive GOP primary season could sap the party’s money and unity, leaving it wounded for a November general election. Advantage: Clinton.

“Why All This Matters” – A Bush-Clinton rematch would be historic. It would garner even more media coverage than ever before (if that’s possible). I believe it would be a fun and engaging election that might get better press and public scrutiny. It would be like the Ali-Frazier showdown of politics.

Who do you think has the upper hand, Clinton or Bush? Just click on the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com and let me know!

© 2014, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: ABCnews.com
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