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What's Obama doing to try to fire up drooping Democrats?

Obama has busted out of Washington to try to regain some of the 'rock star' glow that fueled Democratic voters in 2008. He's also trying to prevent the election from being a referendum on him.

By Staff writer / September 29, 2010

President Obama greets the crowd at a rally at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wis., on Sept. 28.

Charles Dharapak/AP

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President Obama and the Democrats are facing the possibility of big losses in the coming 2010 midterm elections. With the vote now only a few weeks away, how is Mr. Obama trying to fire up his party for the fall?

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He’s the head of the party, after all, despite all those GOP bumper stickers urging voters to “Fire Nancy Pelosi.” If Republicans win control of both the House and Senate, the next two years could be very tough ones for the administration. So it’s his job, politically speaking, to get out there and try to raise the spirits of disgruntled and apathetic Dems.

Well, what he’s done this week is break out of the White House grounds. Wednesday morning he’s in Des Moines, Iowa, in the back yard of Jeff and Sandy Clubb, answering questions from 70 of their neighbors. (Have they been screened to try to keep people from asking embarrassing questions, such as the one Obama fielded at a similar event earlier this week about why he’s a Christian? We’d say, "you betcha.")

Later Wednesday he’ll be in Richmond, Va., for another cozy backyard event. Just you, the folks from the block, and dozens of Secret Service agents wearing suits and earplugs.

Mixed in with these chats was Tuesday’s big rally at the University of Wisconsin, in Madison. From a media relations perspective, the White House has gone low/high: intimate settings that attempt to show the president as a real person, combined with big events that have something of that old rock star glamour (for which the GOP criticized him in 2008) and that allow Obama to try to outline a message intended to prod yawning Democrats to the polls.

What is that message? If you look at what Obama’s said this week, it has a number of interlocking parts.

You're a shareholder. In his Madison address, the president began by framing his 2008 election as the result of his supporters overcoming the status quo to elect a skinny guy with a funny name. His implicit message was that the supporters thus share in the responsibility for what happens to the administration.

“Every single one of you is a shareholder in that mission of rebuilding our country and reclaiming our future. And I’m back here today because on November 2, we face another test,” said Obama.

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