- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 27, 2016

President Obama will travel to Florida Friday to stump for Democratic Senate candidate Patrick Murphy in a race that offers the most glaring example of the president’s work for down-ballot candidates coming up short.

It’s the second time in eight days that Mr. Obama is campaigning in Florida to defeat incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, as the White House tries to take advantage of the president’s rising job-approval ratings to elect more Democrats everywhere from the U.S. Senate to governorships to state legislatures. The president is personally pushing for as many as 150 candidates in some 20 states across the country.

Mr. Obama is recording robo-calls for Democratic candidates, conducting radio interviews for Democrats in battleground states, attending rallies for Hillary Clinton, raising money for the party, and lending his name to get-out-the-vote efforts online and via party emails. He’s expected to be on the campaign trail every day next week, leading up to Election Day on Nov. 8.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Mr. Obama is working for candidates “up and down the ballot.” The White House hopes that the president’s efforts will, at a minimum, turn the Senate Democratic for Mrs. Clinton’s first two years in office, assuming she wins.

Mr. Obama’s role as campaigner-in-chief in his final months comes after a dismal record in eight years as the head of the Democratic Party. Since he took office in 2009, Democrats have lost 11 governorships, 13 Senate seats, 69 House seats and more than 900 state legislature seats.

Nowhere is the president’s recent campaign work looking less promising than the Florida Senate race, where a Bloomberg poll Wednesday put Mr. Rubio ahead by a whopping 10 percentage points. A handful of other state polls this week showed Mr. Murphy, one of the first candidates to be endorsed by Mr. Obama, trailing by two to six percentage points.

The outlook for Mr. Murphy has grown so bleak since Mr. Obama’s last campaign stop on Oct. 20 that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has pulled its money from his race to concentrate on other states.

On his last campaign swing through Florida, Mr. Obama called out Mr. Rubio for supporting Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump after calling Mr. Trump a “con man” during the GOP primary.

“That’s a sign of somebody who will say anything, do anything, pretend to be anybody, just to get elected,” Mr. Obama said.

In the Bloomberg poll, 51 percent of Floridians said they have a favorable view of Mr. Obama. A Rasmussen poll this week put the president’s job approval rating at 55 percent. The White House is banking on that relatively high popularity for a second-term president to translate into coattails for a variety of Democratic candidates, even though Mr. Obama isn’t on the ballot.

Mr. Obama’s aides also are making the argument in the closing days of the election that a vote for Republicans is a vote for more gridlock in Washington. Mr. Earnest pushed back against Republicans’ campaign argument that voters should split their tickets to ensure that the GOP serves as a counterweight to Mrs. Clinton in the White House.

“Voters who hear that message I think are hearing Republicans promise more of the same kind of Republican Congressional dysfunction that’s infected Washington for the last six years,” Mr. Earnest said.


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