Senate Democrats Distance Themselves From Obama as Midterms Approach

Monday, 10 Feb 2014 01:39 PM

By Courtney Coren

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As Democrats gear up for the 2014 midterm elections, a majority of the most vulnerable Senate candidates have made it clear that they don't want President Barack Obama's help with their campaigns.

"I don't care to have him campaign for me," Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska told Politico. "I'd rather him come up to see where his policies aren't working. He's wrong on ANWR [Arctic National Wildlife Refuge], we've had struggles to try to get our permits done down in the southeast for our timber industry. I want to show him how important the military is in Fairbanks."

Politico's report is based on conversations with most Democratic candidates up for re-election. Only a few said they would welcome the president's participation in their campaigns.

While some Democratic senators fear that Obama's involvement in their races could cost them their seats because of his unpopularity, they are also in need of the White House's steep resources.

The White House is aware of the situation and is figuring out the best way the president and those close to the administration can help.

While meeting with Senate Democrats at Nationals Park last week, Obama said that Obamacare will be the Republicans' "No. 1 attack tool" against Democrats, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois told Politico.

"He said, 'I understand in some of your states I'm not the most popular politician,'" Durbin said. "'So if you're going to break from the White House on an issue or a position, understood. But I can help many of you, even in states where I'm not popular with everyone. I can still help, and I'm willing to do everything I can.'"

While Obama has some fundraisers scheduled on behalf of Senate Democrats, candidates are looking to Vice President Joe Biden, first lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton to play a role.

Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas said that outside help won't make a difference in his state.

"I don't get people to come and campaign for me very often," Pryor told Politico. "To me, in Arkansas, people don't vote for you because somebody else says vote for you."

By contrast, Republicans are growing increasingly confident about their chances of establishing a majority in the Senate, Politico reported.

Statistically speaking, the president's party usually loses an average of six seats during his sixth year, but Republicans are also riding on the problems and frustration among voters surrounding Obamacare, the president's low approval rating, and the slowly recovering economy to give them an extra boost.

GOP donors were encouraged in November when tea party favorite Dean Young was beat by establishment candidate Bradley Byrne in a special election for an Alabama House seat.

One political strategist called the victory an encouraging "turning point" at a time when donors were concerned about another year in which unelectable tea party candidates win the GOP nomination.

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