With Democratic Senate candidates treating President Obama as if he’s radioactive, the president will spend the final week before the crucial midterm election stumping instead for five gubernatorial candidates from Maine to Wisconsin.
While Mr. Obama badly needs Democrats to keep control of the Senate, his schedule this week calls for him to attend campaign rallies for gubernatorial candidates Mary Burke in Wisconsin on Tuesday, Mike Michaud in Maine on Thursday, Mark Schauer in Michigan on Saturday, and Tom Wolf in Pennsylvania and Gov. Dan Malloy of Connecticut on Sunday.
The only Democratic Senate candidate who’s agreed to appear with Mr. Obama in the home stretch is Gary Peters in Michigan, who leads Republican Terry Lynn Land by an average of 10.1 percentage points in a race where national Republicans have stopped running ads. Apparently that’s a big enough margin that even a visit by Mr. Obama will do no harm, in a state that Mr. Obama won by nearly 10 points in 2012.
Democratic strategist Jim Manley, a former top aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said the president is limited on the campaign map by his upside-down poll numbers.
“He is doing what he can, whether it is fundraising or whatever, but the bottom line is that his approval rating is such there are not a lot of states where he can go right now,” Mr. Manley said.
So unwanted is the president by his own party that he spent the past three days in Washington as the races nationwide are reaching their crescendo. Mr. Obama played a round of golf on Saturday, held a meeting with advisers about the Ebola crisis on Sunday, and attended parent-teacher conferences for his daughters with first lady Michelle Obama at Sidwell Friends School on Monday. He also held a meeting of his advanced manufacturing steering committee Monday, closed to the media.
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White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Mr. Obama’s campaign schedule reflects “a serious commitment by this president to supporting Democratic candidates on the ballot.”
“What you’ve seen the president do is dedicate his time to doing what he can to support Democratic candidates,” Mr. Earnest said. “And he’s spent a lot of time raising money for them, and that reflects, I think, a significant commitment of this president’s time and energy to supporting Democratic candidates.”
The president this week will hold his 63rd and 64th fundraisers of the year for Democratic candidates. Nearly half of the events, typically for the party’s high rollers, have been closed to the media.
While the president isn’t appearing in person with many candidates, he has been conducting a series of broadcast interviews in key states, targeting the core of the Democratic base, including black voters.
“The president in the course of his own campaign has been successful in motivating core elements of the Democratic Party to support his campaign,” Mr. Earnest said. “That’s been true of African-American voters. That’s been true of Latino voters. It’s true of Asian voters. It’s true of young voters. So to the extent that the president has had his own personal success in motivating certain elements of that coalition the president is eager to try to use his influence to motivate people and help — at least at a minimum — help them understand the stakes of this election.”
The president also has been showing up almost exclusively in states that are reliably “blue,” where he won in 2008 and 2012. He’s avoiding states such as North Carolina, Arkansas, Alaska, Colorado and Georgia where control of the Senate will be decided.
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Republicans need to pick up a net of six seats to win the majority in the Senate.