- The Washington Times - Monday, March 14, 2016

Vilification, adoration, mockery: Media obsession with Republican front-runner Donald Trump continues. The billionaire drives headlines at news organizations that crave the inevitable big Trump bump from readers, viewers and listeners who crave a daily Donald fix whether they love him or hate him. A new Economist/YouGov poll finds that 58 percent of Americans say Mr. Trump “could possibly” win the general election; 76 percent of Republicans and even 43 percent of Democrats agree — surely fodder for another round of bombastic speculation. See more numbers at this column’s end.

More drama looms in the meantime, and old friends will soon be in national focus once again. Fox News has announced it will air its fourth presidential debate on Monday, to be broadcast live from Salt Lake City — just 24 hours before voters go to the polls in Arizona and Utah. Once again, Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace serve as moderators for the two-hour event as the remaining hopefuls grapple for favorability.

These matches are magic for Fox News. The network’s previous primary debates delivered the three highest-rated telecasts in the network’s history, most notably the big opening bout in August that drew a record-breaking 24 million viewers and remains the highest-rated nonsports cable broadcast of all time.

PRESIDENCY WITH A FLOURISH

The penmanship is impeccable, done up with a tasteful flourish in sepia ink upon aged paper — very aged paper. Behold, a letter from Thomas Jefferson to Henry Dearborn, his secretary of war, dated September 1, 1808, and written from Monticello, the Virginia home of the nation’s third president. Jefferson discusses the hope of a young man to attend the newly established U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and also notes, “I propose to be in Washington on the 1st of October. The newspapers tell us of dispatches from Mr. Pinckney.” Jefferson is referring to Charles Cotesworth Pinkney, the Federalist nominee for president who ran against James Madison that year. The president closed his missive with this: “I salute you with affection and respect.”



That very letter — along with documents signed by Martin Van Buren, James Monroe, Samuel Adams and Daniel Webster — goes up for auction on Friday through Weschler’s, an appraiser in the nation’s capital that itself has been around since 1890. Jefferson is the “standout,” the organization says. His elegant, pitch-perfect letter is likely to fetch about $15,000.

THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGING

Young, restless and disengaged from the 2016 presidential election? Not necessarily. They just need a little Instagram, perhaps.

“The millennial base is too untapped by all candidates,” says Kristin Tate, a political opinion columnist and author of the forthcoming book “Government Gone Wild: How D.C. Politicians Are Taking You for a Ride — and What You Can Do About It,” due from Center Street in late April.

“The GOP believes it has a better plan for a bright future. What the GOP needs is politicians who can reach young people with that message in a digestible, millennial-friendly form. On this, I give Marco Rubio a score of A, Donald Trump a B and Ted Cruz a C,” Ms. Tate advises.

“People say that young people don’t vote. That’s not true. Look at Obama in 2008 and Bernie Sanders in this election. Mobilization isn’t necessarily about substance, it’s about messaging. Young people will go to the polls if they are mobilized and energized and presented with concepts of change, progress and optimism,” she adds.

SPHERES OF INFLUENCE

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton definitely has the busiest road map here. Qorvis MSLGROUP, a strategic communications firm based in the nation’s capital, has ferreted out the names of all “key players” for each of the six presidential hopefuls and assembled that information into buoyant, digital displays with extra drop-down menus, color-coded associations, hidden nodes, inner circles and other fancy fare. Qorvis calls the project “Influencer2016” — and it does indeed show connections between candidate, staff, outsiders and insiders.

“We think voters are curious about the people behind the scenes,” says Michael Petruzzello, president of the group. Find the collection here: Influencer16.com.

NIP TUCK BUCKS

For the first time on record, Americans spent over $13.5 billion dollars last year on improving their appearance plus facial and body rejuvenation, reports the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, with liposuction leading the way, followed by breast augmentation, tummy tuck, eyelid surgery and breast lifts.

“I personally believe the motivating factors for that are varied, but remaining competitive in the workforce is certainly a common factor. Youth is a commodity, and people are investing in themselves to maintain a younger, healthier appearance,” said Dr. James C. Grotting, president of the medical organization.

Women account for 90 percent of the customers: 11.5 million had cosmetic procedures in 2015, an increase of 538 percent since 1997, when the group first started tracking the trends. Men had 1.5 million procedures — up by 325 percent in the same time period. People between 30 and 50 years old had the most surgery, accounting for 40 percent of the total.

POLL DU JOUR

59 percent of Americans say Donald Trump is the likely Republican nominee for president; 72 percent of Republicans, 54 percent of independents and 53 percent of Democrats agree.

58 percent overall say Mr. Trump “could possibly win” the general election; 76 percent of Republicans, 56 percent of independents and 45 percent of Democrats agree.

40 percent say Republicans will decide on their candidate at the national GOP convention in July; 44 percent of Republicans, 34 percent of independents and 43 percent of Democrats agree.

35 percent say the GOP will decide in “the next few months”; 42 percent of Republicans, 34 percent of independents and 30 percent of Democrats agree.

31 percent overall say Mr. Trump can “never win” the general election; 17 percent of Republicans, 29 percent of independents and 43 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: An Economist/YouGov poll of 2,000 U.S. adults conducted March 10-12.

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