Obama Goes West to Boost Dem Candidates

Friday, 19 Feb 2010 08:42 AM

 

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In office less than 13 months, President Barack Obama has already returned to the campaign trail, flying west to stump for embattled Democrats ahead of November midterm elections.

After meeting with the Dalai Lama Thursday, Obama flew to Denver, Colorado to address some 2,000 Democratic activists gathered in a concert hall who greeted him with cheers of "Yes We Can!" -- the slogan he made famous in his 2008 campaign.

But the rapturous reception obscured the stark reality that Democrats face anything but a love-fest in November's midterms.

That has left Obama to try and use his popularity to boost the chances of his fellow Democrats, including Colorado Senator Michael Bennett, whom he forcefully defended at the rally.

The president drew a parallel between himself and Bennett, who he said had "been an agent of change in these parts for a very long time."

He called for Democrats to return the new lawmaker to the Senate, where he was first sent in 2009, after being designated the successor to Ken Salazar, who was named Obama's interior secretary.

But Bennet faces an uphill struggle, currently polling just 37 percent compared to 52 percent for his Republican opponent, according to a Rasmussen poll published February 5.

Obama acknowledged the "tough political climate" and jabbed at Republicans who he said know it is "a whole lot easier to say no to everything."

"Michael is running in a very tough political environment, but he's got one very powerful advantage: he's got you," Obama said.

"He needs you to fight for him now."

The president continued to battle for Bennett at a second, smaller event held at a hotel in the city, which hosted the Democratic National Convention where Obama was officially declared the party's 2008 candidate for president.

After a little less than four hours in Colorado, Obama moved on to Las Vegas, Nevada, to attend a fundraiser for Democratic candidates held at the home of tycoon George Maloof, a magnate who owns sports clubs and a casino.

On Friday, Obama will campaign there for Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader, and hold a town-hall meeting to take questions from Americans -- something he has done regularly since the beginning of the year.

He is also scheduled to meet with members of the city's chamber of commerce, possibly to make amends for comments that the city's mayor, Oscar Goodman, said were encouraging people to stay away from Vegas.

Obama has since apologized for advising people not to gamble away their savings in Sin City, which has been hard-hit by the recession and falling tourism numbers.

Local television station KTNV reported that Goodman declined to meet with Obama during his visit, claiming he had others things to do.

Like his fellow Democrat in Colorado, Reid's reelection in the November vote is anything but assured.

Reid, 70, has spent 23 years in the Senate, but his popularity took a hit as he presided over contentious health care reform negotiations.

He has lost an average of nine points against any potential Republican candidate, according to poll aggregator RealClearPolitics.

All members of the House of Representatives and one third of the Senate are up for reelection during the mid-term vote in November.

This session of Congress has already seen the Democrats lose their so-called supermajority of 60 votes out of the 100 seats in the Senate after a shock Republican win in Massachusetts on January 19.

The setback stalled the party's legislative agenda and caused panic among many Democrats facing tough reelection fights, leaving Obama to try and boost morale and woo voters at the same time.

© AFP 2014

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