Sunday Political Brunch: Is President Trump Getting a Bounce?—September 24, 2017
Sunday, September 24, 2017
“By the Numbers” – This week, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll had Mr. Trump’s approval rating at 43 percent, up from 40 percent in August. The Marist Poll gave him a rise from 35 to 39 percent during the same period. In the CNN poll, he ticked up to 40 percent in September, from 38 percent in August. So, yes, he’s getting a bounce, albeit a modest one.
“Bipartisan Vibe” – The President has sent a lot of mixed signals since January, at times standing with Republicans, warring against Democrats. And then, more recently, choosing sides with the Democrats on some key issues. Americans like it when Congress and the White House govern in a bipartisan fashion. For example, a CNN Poll in July showed that 77 percent of the public wanted Congress and the White House to find a bipartisan solution to the health care debate, instead of just gutting Obamacare.
“Move It on Over” – Well, bipartisanship hasn’t happened on health care; but on two other issues the President likely scored points that brought up his approval numbers. First, he sided with Democratic Congressional leaders on a plan to raise the debt ceiling and keep the government from shutting down. Then, he announced that he and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) were in general agreement on trying to pass a bill regarding DACA, the policy that would allow children who were brought to this country illegally to stay if certain conditions were met. While that policy has some ways to go before becoming law, it - at the very least - shows a willingness to compromise and cooperate on both sides.
“North, by North Korea” – Some of the polls this week surveyed people after President Trump spoke at the United Nations, but other polls were conducted before his speech. Still, his hardline stance against North Korea (and that from others in his administration, such as Defense Secretary James Mattis and U.N Ambassador Nikki Haley) have bolstered his no-nonsense approach. The President told the General Assembly, “If… forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. The United States is ready, willing, and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary… That’s what the United Nations is for. Let’s see how they do.” He not only called out Kim Jong Un; he called out U.N. leaders, too. My guess is that even a lot of Trump detractors liked his rhetoric after all the menacing and unprovoked North Korean threats and missile launches.
“Disaster Aid Equals Presidential Aid” – It’s one of the simplest rules in Presidential politics. When Americans are in crisis and need help, you show up in person to show you care. President Trump received high marks for the tone of his visits to damaged areas following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Certainly, you can sign all the disaster declaration letters, and put all the federal aid you can muster into motion from the White House or aboard Air Force One; but if you delay in showing up – as President George W. Bush did during Hurricane Katrina – you upset a lot of people. To be sure, a President’s physical presence on a disaster scene does nothing for the actual relief effort. But what it does show is caring, compassion, and concern – traits we like to see in our leaders. Yes, its symbolic leadership; but it’s something Americans have come to expect.
“How Long Will the Bounce Last?” – That’s an eternal question in politics, which is essentially a love-hate business. President Trump’s sudden, resurging threat to repeal and replace Obamacare could erode some of his newfound support, especially from the other side of the aisle. But if he’s victorious, it could help him among establishment Republicans who still keep him at arm’s length. Quite honestly, the President’s biggest vulnerability might be an ill-advised tweet that upsets a cross-section of the public. He’s had a penchant for doing that. As I always say about politicians, their worst wounds are often self-inflicted. Stay tuned.
“Why All of This Matters” -- Governing is a difficult dance. You can be wildly popular one day, but a total “goat” the next. Some of it is within your control; much of it is not. But successful governing takes public and political support. It takes loyalty to stick by your party; but sometimes bold courage to reach across the aisle. If it were easy, every President would be a success. I suspect President Trump – after a pretty rough first eight months – is experimenting, just as so many of his predecessors did. If your game plan is not working, maybe it’s time to try another strategy. As we’ve seen in recent weeks, an olive branch to the other party can earn you greater respect from a skeptical public – at least for trying to be bipartisan, even if that effort doesn’t succeed.
We want to hear your opinion. Has President Trump turned a corner in how he governs? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.
Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is a nationally-known political reporter, analyst, and writer based in West Virginia, where he serves as Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving the Mountain State.
Related Slideshow: The Power List - Politics, 2016
Kate Coyne-McCoy - In baseball, they call them all around superstars - five tool athletes.
McCoy, who once ran for Congress, is a strong political organizer for EMILY’s List, a proven fundraiser for Raimondo’s PAC, strong with the media, and is a top lobbyist.
She is manages to balance being a partisan with her all-around effectiveness. McCoy can do it all.
Lenny Lopes - Whether you’re looking for someone to navigate the halls of the State House, manage your public relations image, or execute a contract, Lopes can do it all.
The affable and well-liked former Chief of Staff to then-Attorney General Patrick Lynch (and prior to that, Legal Counsel to Lt. Governor Charlie Fogarty) had joined forces with Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West before striking out on his own with The Victor Group, taking on such heavyweight clients as Lifespan and online gaming behemoths Fanduel and DraftKings, and more niche healthcare accounts — including the medical marijuana Rhode Island Growers Coalition.
Lopes was tapped this past spring following the tourism debacle by Havas PR to help navigate their way through the Rhode Island waters, and ultimately defend their performance and reputation to stave off their contract cancelation for now. If you’re hired to be a PR firm’s de facto PR brain, you must be on your game.
Two Coast Operative
Matt Lopes - With more than 20 different lobbying agreement Lopes has emerged as a premiere influencer in Rhode Island. His clients range from Dunkin’ Donuts to Amgen to the Rhode Island Airport Corporation.
While managing one of the biggest lobbying practices he is often on the West Coast -- he is a nationally recognized Special Master for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, overseeing prison reform and compliance.
He plays with the big boys on both coasts. Easy for a guy who was a star athlete in high school and at Dartmouth.
Don Sweitzer - IGT (formerly GTECH) super lobbyist plays the game at most every level, with big ties to the Clinton organization that go all the way back to Sweitzer playing a key role with Clinton-Gore in 1992.
Sweitzer’s contacts span the political spectrum - despite his Democratic pedigree, don’t count him out if Donald Trump wins the Presidency as Sweitzer worked for Paul Manafort back in the early 1990s.
Reportedly, Raimondo asked him to serve as her chief of staff - he gracefully declined.
Segal, Bell and Regunberg - These three young Brown grads are emerging as the leaders in progressive causes in Rhode Island and across the United States. David Segal, who served on the City Council in Providence and as a State Rep, failed in a 2010 effort for Congress losing to David Cicilline in the Democratic primary.
In 2016, Segal along with Aaron Regunberg emerged as a powerful force in trying to kill of the Super-Delegate structure in the Democratic primary.
Sam Bell is leading a major effort to re-calibrate the Democratic party to the left the election season. We will know just how good Bell is after September 13’s Democratic primary - Bell is overseeing more than a dozen progressive candidates' campaigns.
Goldberg, Walsh, Ryan and Murphy - These four veteran lobbyists know the pass codes to just about every private office in the State House. For decades they have been the go-to guys. Regardless of who is in power Bob Goldberg, Joe Walsh, Mike Ryan and Bill Murphy are always in vogue.
Only Ryan was not an elected official. Murphy ran the House for a decade, Goldberg had pulled off one of the greatest political coups when he lead a small band of GOP senators and split the Dems to take power, and Walsh was the almost Governor of Rhode Island in 1984.
Combined, they have the lion's share of premier clients and have collected the millions in fees to prove it.
Nicole Pollock - The new Chief-of-Staff for Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza certainly has big shoes to fill, with the recent departure of both Chief Operating Officer Brett Smiley and outgoing Chief of Staff Tony Simon but Pollack has gotten off to a strong start. Following the recent summit on Kennedy Plaza co-hosted former Mayor Joe Paolino and Elorza, Paolino told GoLocal, “[Elorza’s] new Chief of Staff, I’m very impressed with.”
Pollock had joined the administration in February 2015 as Chief Innovation Officer and then served as Chief of Policy and Innovation for the administration before being tapped for the top post. Pollock had previously served in a policy and communications role for the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. A graduate of Brown University, Pollock currently serves on the Board of the West Broadway Neighborhood Association and the Providence Plan.
The city has no shortage of pressing issues to tackle, from devising a plan to handle the ongoing panhandling, homelessness, and drug use issues in Kennedy Plaza, to the ever-looming issue of the protracted legal battle with the Providence Firefighters that could have monumental financial implications for the city, depending on the outcome.
Matt Bucci - The up-and-comer on Governor Raimondo’s staff was in the mix for Chief of Staff or another promotion this summer, but may chose to take his skills and join the world of lobbying or grab another private sector position.
Made news when he was tied to Governor Raimondo’s ill fated and ultimately canceled trip to Davos Switzerland. Raimondo was going to spend a weekend with the beautiful people and raided the non-profit URI Foundation’s scholarship dollars to fund the trip.
The former staffer to Senator Jack Reed is widely respected. Look for news about Bucci in the near future. Too talented to not make a leap soon.
Chris Hunter - The strategy wunderkind has morphed into a well-established operative in his own right in veteran lobbyist Frank McMahon’s public affairs shop, Advocacy Solutions.
The long-time government and public relations manager for the Providence Working Waterfront Alliance, Hunter is equally adept at the State House, having snagged emerging industry client Lyft and engaged in the hand-to-hand combat that comes with lobbying for the Rhode Island League of Charter Schools.
Election seasons in particular are where Hunter’s know-how comes in handy, having managed a number of successful bond referendum in the state. Hunter is a constant presence networking around town, whether it’s hobnobbing with the Providence Committee on Foreign Relations or serving on host committees for key candidates - he’s the combination of both “who you know” and “what you know."
Nick Hemond - None may be more unabashedly and relentlessly ambitious than Hemond, who landed as an associate at powerhouse DarrowEverett in 2014.
The President of the Providence School Board lobbies at City Hall for high-profile real estate clients including Buff Chace and High Rock Management (i.e. the ownership of the Superman Building) and at the State House for labor interests (RI FOP, RI Carpenters Local Union 94), Big Health (the Hospital Association of Rhode Island) and rounding it out with such interests as AAA, the Hospital Association of Rhode Island, and infrastructure firm AECOM.
If that doesn’t sound like a full load, toss in a slew of crisis communications clients in the way of bars and clubs in varying degrees of trouble (read: stabbings, shootings) before the Providence Board of Licenses. Having so many fingers in so many pies (and some of which could appear somewhat conflicting) has raised eyebrows, but in the meantime if Hemond is winning, the checks keep coming.
Leo Skenyon - The seasoned political operative is the man behind the man. Serving as Chief of Staff to Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello, Skenyon helped navigate a more than treacherous legislative session which saw Finance Chair Representative Ray Gallison resign, Representative John Carnevale found ineligible to run at his purported address in Providence, and a slew of financial and ethics issues for a number of Democrats.
The Speaker however emerged from the session having tackled the thorny issue of community service grants, and what had seemed up until this year a nearly impossible task, putting ethics reform — and oversight of the Assembly by the Ethics Commission — before voters this November.
Skenyon has weathered many a political season before, having been the former Chief of Staff to then-Senate Majority Leader Jack Revens in the 1980s, and then a former top aide to Governor Bruce Sundlun and U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell. Now, his boss faces both a Republican and Independent challenger in the general election in November.
Joe Shekarchi - The Chair of the House Labor Committee is running unopposed this year in District 23 in Warwick, marking just the third election season for the powerful politician-lawyer, who first won in 2012.
Given his fundraising prowess, however, one would think that Shekarchi accrued his war chest over a longer tenure, with over $528,000 cash on hand as of the second quarter of 2016, making him far and away the most flush General Assembly member (by way of comparison, Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello reported just over $365,000 cash on hand for the same period; Governor Gina Raimondo had $1.4 million.)
It was managing money that helped establish him on the map as a seasoned statewide political operative — he was the campaign manager for statewide operations for Raimondo when she ran for General Treasurer in 2010. With a number of successes in business and on the Hill, keep an eye on Shekarchi's future plans.
- “Sunday Political Brunch: Will This Ever End?” – May 21, 2017
- Sunday Political Brunch: Political Crazy Talk - May 14, 2017
- Sunday Political Brunch: What a Week It Was—May 28, 2017
- Sunday Political Brunch - June 4, 2017: Is Impeachment Really an Option?
- Sunday Political Brunch: How Critical is Comey?—June 11 2017
- Sunday Political Brunch - May 7, 2017: Sorting Out Winners and Losers
- Sunday Political Brunch: The 100 Day Myth—April 30, 2017
- “The Sunday Political Brunch”—April 2, 2017
- Sunday Political Brunch - April 9, 2017: Choose Your Battles Carefully
- Sunday Political Brunch—April 16, 2017: Trump Changing His Tune
- Sunday Political Brunch: Political Odds and Ends
- Sunday Political Brunch: Is the Press Too Depressing?—June 18, 2017
- Sunday Political Brunch: A Political Potluck – June 25, 2017
- Sunday Political Brunch—Will Florida Mark the End of Trump Presidency? - August 20, 2017
- Sunday Political Brunch When Presidents Talk Tough—August 13, 2017
- Sunday Political Brunch: A Tale of Two Presidents—August 27, 2017
- Sunday Political Brunch: A Taxing Problem—September 3, 2017
- Sunday Political Brunch: The Art of the Deal—September 10, 2017
- Sunday Political Brunch: All Politics is Local, or Is It? August 6, 2017
- Sunday Political Brunch: Have the Wheels Come Off the White House Wagon? - July 30, 2017
- Sunday Political Brunch - July 4th Trivia
- Sunday Political Brunch: To Tweet or Not to Tweet?—July 9, 2017
- Sunday Political Brunch: What is the Real Russian Connection?—July 16, 2017
- Sunday Political Brunch: The Senate Scramble - July 23, 2017
- Sunday Political Brunch: Who Will Be the First Female President? - September 17, 2017