President Barack Obama will aim his economic message at women voters as he campaigns on the West Coast for two female candidates crucial to Democrats' chances of keeping their fragile majority in the U.S. Senate.
Obama will try to bolster incumbent Senators Patty Murray of Washington and Barbara Boxer of California with rallies and fund-raisers over the next two days.
Polls have shown an erosion in the slight leads held by the two Democratic candidates to razor-thin margins, with less than two weeks left before the Nov. 2 congressional elections.
Obama is seeking to rev up core Democratic voters and targeting women, who vote Democratic in higher percentages than male voters, is part of that strategy.
"Our mission in the last two weeks is to get people energized and understanding that there are real stakes in this election and that it's important to participate," said senior White House adviser David Axelrod.
"There is a Democratic president and there is a Democratic Congress now and it's easy .... to be complacent," Axelrod said, adding that it is hard for supporters to "imagine the potential scenarios if the vote goes the other way."
Obama will hold a backyard discussion on women and the economy in Seattle Thursday that will coincide with the release of a White House report analyzing the effects of the president's policies on women.
"Women and girls have been a focus of this administration from the very start. Economic issues are women's issues. Healthcare is a woman's issue," senior White House aide Valerie Jarrett told reporters.
The report from the White House National Economic Council showed women are a growing share of the U.S. workforce, making up nearly 50 percent of workers and were increasingly breadwinners for their families.
It said because of that, the recession has affected women more severely than other downturns but it also asserted that Obama's policies, like healthcare reform, were helping women.
"The best thing for the Democrats to do is probably focus on the economy and jobs and the class issue," said Lara Brown, professor of political science at Villanova University in Philadelphia. "They're probably better off attracting pretty much everyone in this electorate by focusing on how they are helping with jobs and the economy."
Wins by Republicans in the Washington state and California Senate races could spell disaster for Obama's Democrats. They are already forecast to lose their dominance in the House of Representatives and are focused on protecting their majority in the Senate.
Obama's popularity and that of his fellow Democrats has suffered amid discontent over the sluggish economy, 9.6 percent unemployment rate and $1.3 trillion U.S. budget deficit.
Obama accuses Republicans of having "amnesia" and has been reminding voters that the economic crisis began under his Republican predecessor, President George W. Bush.
At a rally in Portland, Oregon for Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Kitzhaber, Obama underscored his closing argument to voters -- a warning that Republican victories would put at risk his signature achievements, including healthcare and financial reform. Republicans have vowed to repeal those initiatives.
"We don't want them rolling back health reform so insurance companies can deny you coverage because you're sick," Obama told a rally of more than 8,000 people. "We don't want them rolling back Wall Street reform so now credit card companies can go back to hitting you with hidden fees."
After the Seattle event, Obama will travel to San Francisco and then attend a rally for Boxer in Los Angeles on Friday. He then heads to Nevada to campaign for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is in a virtual tie in polls with his Republican challenger, Sharron Angle.
Wrapping up his tour on Saturday in Minnesota, Obama will campaign for a gubernatorial candidate and raise money for House candidates in the state.
Republicans, who have 41 seats in the 100-member Senate, already hold commanding leads in races for Democratic seats in North Dakota, Arkansas and Indiana. That leaves them needing wins in seven of eight toss-up Senate races -- California, Washington, Nevada, Colorado, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Illinois and West Virginia -- to regain Senate control. (Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Jeff Mason in Washington) (Writing by Caren Bohan; Editing by Chris Wilson) (firstname.lastname@example.org; +1 202 898 8300; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))
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