JEFFREY BROWN: President Obama was back in campaign mode today, urging Democrats to go to the polls in November. He finished up a trip that saw him at times cajoling and at other times scolding followers to get engaged.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
JEFFREY BROWN: The president began his day in the backyard of a family in Des Moines, Iowa, a state where he won his first victory in the 2008 campaign.
U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Companies that are on the sidelines that are thinking about investing, they say…
JEFFREY BROWN: The official topic was the economy, but the overriding message was keep Democrats in control of Congress and don’t let Republicans turn back the clock.
BARACK OBAMA: When you look at the choice we face in this election coming up, the other side, what it’s really offering is the same policies that from 2001 to 2009 put off hard problems and didn’t really speak honestly to the American people about how we’re going to get this country on track over the long term.
JEFFREY BROWN: It was the latest in a series of events aimed at re-creating the energy among Democrats generated by then-candidate Obama.
BARACK OBAMA: I don’t know about you, but I’m fired up.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
JEFFREY BROWN: Last night, before a crowd of almost 26,000 at the University of Wisconsin, the president tried to galvanize young voters, one of the groups that Democrats desperately need these days.
BARACK OBAMA: The prediction among the pundits is, this is going to be a bloodletting for Democrats. That’s what they’re saying in Washington.
BARACK OBAMA: And what they’re saying is and the basis of their prediction is that all of you who worked so hard in 2008 aren’t going to be as energized, aren’t going to be as engaged. They say there is an enthusiasm gap.
JEFFREY BROWN: The president also used stronger words this week to make his point. He told “Rolling Stone” magazine that disaffected Democrats need to — quote — “buck up.”
BARACK OBAMA: It is inexcusable for any Democrat or progressive right now to stand on the sidelines in this midterm election. That people are sitting on their hands, complaining, is just irresponsible.
JEFFREY BROWN: On Monday, in New Hampshire, Vice President Joe Biden went further. He said Democrats need to remind their base to — quote — “stop whining.”
Still, some liberal bloggers, like Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake.com, warn, the president is running a risk in scolding his own supporters.
JANE HAMSHER, founder, Firedoglake.com: He is telling voters on the Democratic base that they are irresponsible, that, you know, they’re slackers, that they don’t care enough to show up. And it really — it really could depress Democratic turnout in the fall.
JEFFREY BROWN: Today, though, a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll suggested the Obama-Biden message may be having an impact. It found that, among likely voters, 46 percent now want Republicans running Congress to 43 percent for Democrats. The Republican lead had been nine points in the same poll just three weeks back.
But, at the U.S. Capitol today, Republicans said they think Americans are ready for change. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell:
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), Minority Leader: They have watched a governing party that was more or less completely uninterested in what the governed had to say about the direction of the country. And our friends on the other side focused on preserving their own jobs and spending more taxpayer dollars. It has to stop.
JEFFREY BROWN: In the meantime, the president meets with top congressional Democrats tomorrow for one last strategy session, as lawmakers head home to campaign.