You know campaign season is in full flower – and the party in power needs a boost – when both the president and vice president are on the trail. Between them, President Obama and Vice President Biden are visiting Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, and California in support of Democratic candidates Thursday and Friday.
With signs pointing toward big Republican gains in the November midterm elections, Democrats are eager for help. Mr. Obama heads to Las Vegas Thursday night to try to help embattled Senate majority leader Harry Reid, who trails his Republican opponent, the “tea party”-supported Sharron Angle, in polls. At this point, Obama is far more popular in Nevada than Senator Reid – 48 percent job approval for Obama versus 34 percent for Reid, according to the latest polls – and so Reid will not hesitate to appear next to Obama.
In Missouri, the optics are trickier. Earlier in the day, Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, one of the few Democrats with a shot at taking over a Republican Senate seat, did not greet Obama when he arrived in Kansas City, Mo., and did not attend his remarks on the economy at an electric delivery-van factory there. In March, she was away when Obama came to Missouri to raise money for Democrats. But she’ll be there for the two fundraising events the president is doing for her Thursday.
The bottom line for presidents when the polls are not stellar: They can still help bring in the campaign cash. Ms. Carnahan’s campaign is expected to take in $250,000 at a grass-roots event Obama is headlining, and he is also appearing at a high-donation fundraiser for her.
Obama barely lost Missouri in 2008, but now he has only 44 percent job approval there, versus 55 percent disapproval, per the Pollster.com trend line. Carnahan trails her likely Republican opponent, Missouri Rep. Roy Blunt, 47 percent to 43 percent, on Pollster.com.
In his remarks at Smith Electric Vehicles, Obama talked up how federal stimulus money is being used to support investment in clean-energy jobs. And he took a stab at the Republicans.
“There are some people who argue that we should abandon some of these efforts – some people who make the political calculation that it’s better to just say no to everything than to lend a hand to clean up the mess that we’ve been in,” Obama said. “But my answer to those who don’t have confidence in our future, who want to stop – my answer is come right here to Kansas City.”
The vice president’s itinerary took him first on Thursday to Portland, Ore., for a fundraiser for freshman Rep. Kurt Schrader (D) – a critic of the Afghanistan war, leading to speculation that Mr. Biden is there to curry favor for the next war-funding vote in Congress. Then Biden heads to California, where Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) needs fundraising and moral support.
The latest independent Field Poll shows three-term Senator Boxer and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina (R) in a statistical tie, with Boxer ahead by only three points – 47 percent to 44 percent. Alarming to Boxer is that 52 percent of respondents view her unfavorably. Boxer has been portraying herself as a defender of jobs in California, which has the third-highest unemployment rate in the country, at 12.4 percent. She contrasts herself with Ms. Fiorina, who at HP laid off thousands of workers. Fiorina argues that nothing Boxer has done has created jobs in California.