LOS ANGELES | The president is 0 for 3 in his designated at-bats. He appeared for statewide Democratic candidates in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts last year, and all three lost. But the California events, which the Democratic National Committee expects to raise as much as $3.5 million, reflect a ratcheted-up White House effort as Democrats across the country find themselves vulnerable ahead of November’s midterm elections.
“We’ve got a lot more work to do. Our work is not yet done. And because some of the things that we did were not popular, we’re going to have a tough political fight coming up,” Mr. Obama said at the first fundraising reception Monday. “Barbara is going to have a tough race.”
For her part, Mrs. Boxer urged her supporters#
At another fundraiser for Mrs. Boxer on Monday, the president was interrupted by gay rights protesters demanding he act to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that prohibits gay troops from serving openly in the military.
“What about ‘don’t ask, don’t tell?’” shouted one protester, part of an effort organized by GetEQUAL, a new lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group. Mr. Obama yelled back, “We are going to do that.”
Mrs. Boxer, who crushed her Republican challenger in 2004 with a 58 percent to 38 percent margin, is emblematic of embattled Democrats across the country this year as many as 10 seats held by Democrats are in play.
“For someone so well-known, the fact that she is well under 50 in two-person races is troublesome. Also problematic for her is that there is very little room for her to grow. She is known and polarizing,” Mr. Zogby said.
The latest poll by Rasmussen Reports puts Mrs. Boxer’s lead within the margin of error at just four percentage points, with the three-term incumbent leading businesswoman and top Republican candidate Carly Fiorina.
Mrs. Fiorina, former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, mocked Mr. Obama’s visit to California.
“The president is out here today because Barbara Boxer is vulnerable, and the Democratic establishment is working overtime to prop her up in a way that they have never done before,” she said in a conference call with reporters.
“We are witnessing a rescue mission in action,” Mrs. Fiorina said. “I don’t think the people of California are in any mood to extend Barbara Boxer’s contract to work for them in Washington to 34 years, when her first 28 have been a total failure.” Mrs. Boxer served five terms in the House before her election to the Senate in 1992.
Mrs. Boxer’s campaign acknowledges that the senator faces the toughest fight of her career, be it against any one of three potential GOP challengers, who square off on June 8. Mrs. Fiorina and former Rep. Tom Campbell are running about even in the polls with the incumbent, with California Assemblyman Chuck DeVore trailing.