TOPICS > Politics

Obama to give Democrats a fundraising boost

BY Terence Burlij and Ruth Tam  February 14, 2014 at 9:32 AM EDT
Photo by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

Photo by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

The Morning Line

While some vulnerable Democrats may be hesitant to welcome President Barack Obama to their Republican-leaning states ahead of November’s midterm elections, it’s a safe bet they wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to take advantage of his fundraising assistance.

The AP’s Josh Lederman reported Thursday that the president had committed to more than 18 fundraisers for Democrats this year.

For Democrats facing tough re-election contests, it’s the best of both worlds. They can keep their distance from Mr. Obama, whose approval rating is currently hovering in the low-to-mid 40s, while at the same time benefitting from his ability to raise massive sums of campaign cash.

The stakes are also high for the president, whose ability to push through key initiatives in the last two years of his presidency could be further hampered if Republicans were able to hold on to their majority in the House and flip enough seats to take control of the Senate.

The AP’s Lederman notes that the president’s schedule will include events beyond the dozen he plans to do for the Democratic House and Senate campaign committees:

Obama will also hold at least one event each for the House Majority PAC and the Senate Majority PAC — outside groups that will spend millions to air television ads boosting Democratic candidates and attacking their opponents.

Obama also has three fundraisers on the calendar for the Democratic National Committee, with several more in the works, a DNC official said. The first will take place later in February in Washington, and Obama will headline two fundraisers in March in Boston.

Vice President Joe Biden and first lady Michelle Obama will be pitching in, too. Already, Biden has booked a fundraiser for the DNC next week in Minneapolis, and Mrs. Obama will host her own event the following day in New York. Both are expected to add many more fundraisers to their calendar in the months ahead.
Republicans need to win at least six seats currently held by Democrats to gain majority control in the Senate. In the House, meanwhile, Democrats must pick up 17 seats to regain the majority.

Recent history suggests Democrats are more likely to lose ground in the House, but despite the long odds the Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe reports that some in the party see a potential opening if ongoing divisions among House Republicans continue throughout the year.

The National Journal’s Bill House writes from the House Democrats’ annual retreat that the party faces an “icy political outlook” this year.

Roll Call’s Meredith Shiner reports that some Democrats see an opening against Republicans when it comes to the decision to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, even as the GOP seems eager to make the botched rollout of the health care law a centerpiece of the 2014 campaign.

Given the president’s political standing and health care woes, Democrats will need all the money they can get their hands on to provide cover from those Republican attacks.

A note to our readers: The Morning Line will be off Monday for the Presidents Day holiday and return next Wednesday.

LINE ITEMS

  • A federal judge in Norfolk struck down Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban on the grounds of unconstitutionality. The decision was stayed pending appeal, meaning same-sex marriages will not be immediately administered.
  • President Obama will travel to Fresno, Calif., on Friday to meet with local officials and farmers impacted by the state’s severe drought. The president is expected to announce $160 million in federal aid, including $100 million in livestock disaster assistance, as well as a $1 billion “resilience fund” for communities battling climate change. While in California Mr. Obama will also have dinner at a desert estate with King Abdullah of Jordan.
  • GOP Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee on Thursday introduced the “State Marriage Defense Act”, a bill that would preserve the ability of states to define marriage.
  • Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., announced Thursday he would retire after 10 terms representing the Evergreen State.
  • Rep. Gary Miller, R-Calif., a top target for Democrats this November, said Wednesday he will not seek re-election to a ninth term.
  • The Obama administration announced Wednesday nearly 3.3 million people have enrolled for health insurance through the federal and state exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act. Officials said that people 18 to 34 years old accounted for about 25 percent of the sign-ups. Politico’s Paige Winfield Cunningham notes the positive health care headlines were buried by this week’s snowstorm.
  • The Senate passed a “clean” debt ceiling extension on Wednesday, but only after Sen. Cruz forced some of his Republican colleagues to vote in favor of advancing the legislation by requiring a 60-vote threshold to clear a procedural hurdle. The measure ultimately passed 55-43. Politico’s Manu Raju and Burgess Everett detail the behind-the-scenes drama surrounding the vote.
  • In an unusual move, Senate clerks did not read aloud some senators’ votes on the debt limit measure as they were cast. Congressional reporters criticized the move Thursday and demanded more information about the decision to silence the microphones. Roll Call’s Niels Lesniewski got his hands on the tally sheet, which shows that six GOP senators switched their vote from “nay” to “yea” during the vote.
  • When the Senate returns to Washington after the Presidents Day recess, the restoration of unemployment insurance will be at the top of Majority Leader Harry Reid’s to-do list. Reid tweeted Wednesday that the measure is one Republican vote shy of passing.
  • In the House, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is eyeing a vote on the minimum wage. Pelosi announced Thursday that House Democrats will issue a discharge petition when they return on Feb. 24 to force a vote on the measure despite Republican resistance.
  • The New Republic’s Alec MacGillis pens a juicy expose on how New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie manipulated the Garden State’s power bosses to shape his own public image.
  • In Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback has used his “bullish conservative agenda” to upset the state’s traditional political balance, writes John Eligon in the New York Times.
  • Sen. Rand Paul is suing the president and top administration officials over the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities. But the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank writes that the Kentucky Republican has also been accused of stealing the lawsuit from Bruce Fein, a former Reagan administration lawyer.
  • Democrat Alex Sink holds a narrow lead over Republican David Jolly in the race for Florida’s 13th congressional district, according to a Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9/WUSF Public Media poll. The Tampa Bay Times’ Adam C. Smith argues that although Sink is leading in polls, fundraising and name recognition, turnout of highly-motivated Republicans and non-partisan voters is not to be underestimated.
  • Thanks to Yahoo’s Chris Moody for flagging this White House parody site.
  • The Washington Post examines what your candy says about your politics.
  • Watching House of Cards all weekend? Here’s the actual House Majority Whip, Kevin McCarthy, and some other familiar faces, taking on the role of the notorious Frank Underwood.

NEWSHOUR ROUNDUP

  • Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., joined Gwen Ifill Wednesday as part of the NewsHour’s “Closing the Gap” series focused on the widening gap between the rich and poor.
  • Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., meanwhile, discussed his “Opportunity Agenda” with Judy Woodruff on Thursday’s NewsHour.
  • In the first episode of a new Web series, “Trendlines,” produced in partnership with Al-Monitor, Margaret Warner examined “Syria After Geneva 2.”
  • Workers at a Volkswagen plant are debating joining the United Auto Workers Union. While the company remains neutral, politicians have opposed the union option. Jeffrey Brown spoke with Vincent Vernuccio of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and Harley Shaiken of the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Gwen Ifill spoke with Bloomberg’s Edmund Lee about Comcast’s bid to buy Time Warner for $45 billion.
  • Robots already automate manual factory jobs, but they’re now giving our cognitive function a run for its money. Paul Solman reports on the “second machine age”, and online, hears more about robot competition from MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee.
  • Keep an eye on the Rundown blog for breaking news throughout the day, our home page for show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.

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Simone Pathe and Bridget Bowman contributed to this report.

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Questions or comments? Email Terence Burlij at tburlij-at-newshour-dot-org.

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