Democrats and GOP Seek Political Benefit From Obama’s Campaign Stops

BY Quinn Bowman  July 8, 2010 at 1:03 PM EDT

Updated at 5:15 p.m.

President Obama rallied a friendly crowd at Carnahan’s fundraiser at the Marriott Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri Thursday, telling the audience that Carnahan would be a faithful servant to the people of Missouri and not just him or the Democratic Party.

“She is going to Washington to represent one constituency, and that is you the people of Missouri. She is going to call it like she sees it,” President Obama told the cheering crowd.

Mr. Obama painted her rival Blunt and the Republicans as tricksters who are trying to fool voters into supporting policies that led to the current economic problems.

“You will face a choice in November. This is a choice between the policies that got us into this mess in the first place and the policies that will get us out. What the other side is counting on is people not having a very good memory,” he said.

“She understands what you’ve been going through, and this is not a game to her,” the president added.

Posted 1:15 p.m.

President Obama is on the campaign trail again in a bid to help fellow Democrats win their Senate races in Missouri and Nevada – two close races that will help determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate after the 2010 midterms.

But with President Obama’s approval ratings dropping, Republicans are also sending out the welcome mat, hoping that lagging public support for the president will also weigh on the the Democrats he supports.

Balancing the base energizing potential, fundraising capability, and nearly-guaranteed media pickup of an Obama visit against the potential to turn off key independent voters who have soured on the president — and the optics of appearing with the man who represents unpopular Washington more than most — is a key calculus each of these Democratic campaigns will have to make over the course of the next four months.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday that President Obama will be out on the campaign trail more often as the November general election approaches.

“We’re getting much, much closer to the fall elections, and the president will have — will do more things leading up to that. But I think he’s — he has been very involved in raising money and in making an argument and he’ll certainly continue to do that,” Gibbs said.

But with the president’s approval rating among independents – a group that was key to Democratic victories in 2006 and 2008 – down to 38 percent, the Republican Party isn’t afraid to highlight for prospective voters that the president is campaigning for the opposition.

In Missouri, Mr. Obama is rallying with senate candidate and Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, who is competing with U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., to replace retiring Republican Kit Bond. President Obama lost Missouri in 2008 in the narrowest vote margin of the contest.

Polling data show Blunt with a modest lead in the race.

Carnahan didn’t appear with President Obama during a March visit, a fact that Republicans touted as evidence that she did not want to be associated with the president’s policies, according to the
The New York Times. But now Mr. Obama, after touring an electric car company in the state and delivering remarks on the economy, will headline a fundraiser for Carnahan’s campaign.

Blunt’s campaign eagerly welcomed President Obama’s visit with a new episode of their “Batman and Rubber Stamp Robin” parody series accusing Carnahan of supporting whatever President Obama wants. “Rubber Stamp Robin,” the video says, will support the Democrats’ climate change bill that would put a cap on carbon emissions, something Blunt calls a “national energy tax.”

President Obama will then jump back on Air Force one to attend a fundraiser for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Las Vegas. Despite being leader in the Senate, a dire economic situation in Nevada has Reid in a close contest against Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle.

The campaigns are currently locked in a battle over the use of Angle’s primary season website, and whether Reid has the right to republish it. After winning the Republican primary, Angle’s new site was washed of her calls to phase out Social Security and Medicare.

This is President Obama’s third trip to Nevada in the election cycle – a signal of Reid’s importance in passing the president’s signature domestic initiative, health care reform.

“In this election, Obama can be helpful in making sure the Democratic base is aware of the importance of having Reid available back in Washington,” Nevada-based Democratic consultant Dan Hart told the Hill newspaper.

The Angle campaign advertised that importance as a reason for voters to reject Reid.

“Obama’s trip from Washington does not come as a surprise to anyone who has followed Obama and Reid’s relationship,” the Angle campaign said in a statement. “After all, it was Harry Reid who rammed Obamacare through the Senate; it was Harry Reid who fought for cap-and-trade on the Hill; and it has been Harry Reid who has supported the President’s agenda at every turn.”