Are Democrats avoiding using President Barack Obama in their 2014 campaigns?
If you asked that question of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) last month, you might not think so. On Jan. 28, the day Obama delivered his State of the Union address, Reid said that any “vulnerable” Democrat running this year should welcome the president on the campaign trail.
“President Obama is personally a very popular guy. And people love this man,” Reid told CNN.
A week after making that declaration, Reid and the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, reportedly met with President Obama to talk about how he could be used ahead of the midterms. Perhaps that meeting was where a significant change was made to the plan to put Obama on the campaign trail.
One month later, it’s became apparent that some Democrats hoping to defend their seats in the Senate have chosen not to make use of the power of the president on the stump. At least, they don’t want the “power” of an appearance with Obama, who has struggled under the weight of his signature health care law’s failed rollout and a number of high-profile scandals during his second term.
Last week, Kasie Hunt of NBC News traveled to Kentucky to interview Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat who hopes to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. In the interview, Grimes stated quite clearly that she doesn’t need Obama or any political surrogate to speak for her — though welcomed former President Bill Clinton at a rally on Tuesday.
On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Wednesday, co-host Mika Brzezinski said she thought Grimes was goaded into making the comment.
NBC News reporter Kasie Hunt, who interviewed Grimes, noted that the D.C. press pool asked Reid if Obama would be welcomed on the campaign trail, specifically with a Democratic candidate in Colorado. Reid’s response was, “We have one president who can go any place, and that’s President Clinton.”
There are more than a few examples available:
- Obama was in New Orleans last fall for a big event at the city’s port. Missing from that high-profile appearance was Louisiana’s three-term Sen. Mary Landrieu. The incumbent senator, who is considered vulnerable, is also running against Obamacare.
- NBC News reported that Wisconsin gubernatorial hopeful Mary Burke, a Democrat, did not drive across the state when Obama was in the area (they reportedly spoke via phone).
- On January 13, Obama gave a speech at North Carolina State University in Raleigh and Sen. Kay Hagan, another vulnerable Democrat, stayed in Washington. CNN’s Brianna Keilar termed Hagan’s excuse, “The equivalent of saying, ‘I have to wash my hair.’”
Watch the entire MSNBC segment on Clinton’s campaign appearance:
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