The Morning Line: Battleground Wednesday

BY David Chalian  August 18, 2010 at 8:31 AM EDT

For as much as Barack Obama changed the electoral map in 2008, the two states he visits Wednesday will be as critical to his re-election effort in 2012 as they were for George W. Bush in his campaigns for the White House.

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The president wakes up in Columbus, Ohio, on this third and final day of his campaign fundraising swing before heading off Thursday to Martha’s Vineyard for a 10-day vacation with his family, where he hopes to “recharge his batteries,” according to the White House.

As with many of his stops this week, President Obama will conduct some official business in addition to the overt political activity. (Like his predecessors, he mostly does this to help defray the costs of his trips for the campaigns he is trying to help.) And Wednesday he will hammer us over the head with visual imagery: President Obama will show his concern about “kitchen table” issues by appearing, literally — as Vice President Joe Biden would say — at a Buckeye State family’s kitchen table.

Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton explained the non-fundraising event in Ohio thusly: “The President is going to be visiting with a middle-class family, where he’ll talk — I think it’s right at their kitchen table — about some of the concerns that they have about what things are going on in the economy. And then afterwards, he’ll go outside and have a conversation with some neighbors and folks from the community about questions and concerns that they have.”

Burton went on to say the president is expected to take questions from community members outside the private home. It’ll be interesting to see if any of the questions stray from the White House’s preferred topic of the economy.

For political junkies, it doesn’t get much better than this Columbus Dispatch headline: “Obama to drop by Clintonville.”

FLORIDA HEAT

Later Wednesday afternoon, the president heads to Florida, the fifth and final state of his swing. When he gets there, he’ll find a politically charged atmosphere with only six days to go before the Sunshine State primary.

Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Fla., and billionaire Jeff Greene have been engaged in a nasty mudslinging battle for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate. But it’s Rep. Meek who will get to bask in the presidential spotlight feeling a bit of wind at his back thanks to the latest Quinnipiac University poll numbers out Wednesday morning.

Per the release: “In the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, Rep. Meek leads Jeff Greene 35 – 28 percent among likely voters, reversing a 33 – 23 percent Greene lead July 29. Former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre is at 6 percent, compared to 4 percent on July 29.”

And that “insider on the comeback” narrative is playing out in the other hotly contested primary battle in Florida for the Republican nomination for governor.

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum leads former health care executive Rick Scott 44 percent to 35 percent among likely primary voters, reversing a 43-32 lead Scott had in a July 29 survey.

Gov. Haley Barbour, chairman of the Republican Governors Association, put his finger on the scale a bit Tuesday while still attempting to claim neutrality in the race. Barbour asked Scott to take down his latest attack ad against McCollum, which paints him as a close associate of the indicted former chairman of the Florida GOP, Jim Greer.

“This ad distorts the facts and was clearly created without any knowledge of what actually took place. It has no place in this primary,” said Barbour.

“We ask Mr. Scott to pull this ad and move forward in the primary in a constructive manner.”

National Republicans are not the only party playing primary politics in Florida. Though the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has remained largely quiet in the Meek vs. Greene primary, national Democratic groups, including labor unions, are well aware who the preferred candidate is and have been quietly hammering away at Greene to help Meek cross the finish line first next Tuesday.

WEDNESDAY RESULTS

If you missed key political developments Tuesday evening, you can read up on the latest here:

The Chicago Tribune on the Blagojevich verdict: “After 14 days of deliberations, the six-man, six-woman jury convicted Blagojevich on just one of the 24 felony counts he faced — a charge that he had lied to FBI agents about his intense involvement in campaign fundraising.”

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer on Washington State’s primary results: “Sen. Patty Murray will face Republican Dino Rossi in November….The two easily separated themselves from a pack of candidates during Tuesday night’s primary, according to early returns. Early results showed Murray in first place, with 49 percent, Rossi in second at 33 percent and upstart GOP challenger Clint Didier in third at nearly 10 percent. The top two finishers advance.”