Former President Obama is set to dive into the midterm elections next week with a speech in Illinois where he is expected to urge Democrats across the country to vote — addressing a problem that plagued the party in 2016.
Obama has kept a low political profile since leaving office, but sources familiar with his plans say he will soon hit the campaign trail to help Democrats in their quest to take back the House, protect vulnerable Senate incumbents and win state legislative races.
The former president will kick off his push by delivering a speech at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on Friday. In the weeks ahead, Obama will also campaign in California, Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania, a person familiar with his schedule said.
Not all Democrats want Obama’s help.
Democratic candidates running in states that President TrumpDonald John Trump7 subtle jabs speakers took at Trump during John McCain’s funeral Graham invited Ivanka Trump to McCain’s funeral: report Trump blasts trade talks with Canada: We shouldn’t have to buy our friends MORE won by double digits in 2016 would prefer that the former president stay far away.
Some Democrats in pro-Trump states, such as Sens. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyPoll: Pennsylvania Democrats surging with double-digit leads Overnight Health Care: Manchin hits opponent on pre-existing conditions | Dems press Trump on handling of ObamaCare | Comments on Kentucky Medicaid changes largely negative Poll: Dems hold double-digit leads in Pennsylvania races for governor, Senate MORE Jr. (Pa.), Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowThe Hill’s Morning Report — Trump, Pence barnstorm swing states Pence visits Michigan to boost GOP Senate candidate The Hill’s Morning Report — General election season underway with marquee Senate races set MORE (Mich.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownTrump hails unions, touts trade moves in Labor Day message 2020 Dems jockey for position before midterm elections Timing of Trump’s Mexico trade deal gives Democrats an advantage MORE (Ohio), say they hope Obama will campaign for them.
Others, such as Sens. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterThe Memo: Trump’s future hinges on midterms Koch group pours nearly M into ads to boost three GOP Senate candidates The Hill’s Morning Report — Senate battlefield grows with 70 days until midterms MORE (Mont.) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampSunday shows preview: Washington prepares for Kavanaugh hearings Kavanaugh preparing for protesters at his hearings during mock drills: report Attorneys general races in spotlight as parties build bench, fight feds MORE (N.D.), want to keep the race locked on the battle between themselves and their state rivals, fearing a high-profile surrogate like Obama could distract from the strategy.
“We’re not going to use any surrogates. Surrogates are fine but we don’t need them. The race is myself and Matt Rosendale and that’s the way we want to keep it,” Tester told The Hill, referring to his GOP challenger.
Asked if she thought Obama might show up in North Dakota, Heitkamp said: “Nope, no.”
“He threatened to campaign against me once so I don’t think he’s coming out there,” she said.
While the former president remains extremely popular with the Democratic base, especially among African-American voters, Democrats fear his entrance into some battleground states could inadvertently rev up conservatives and pro-Trump voters.
“Trump wants nothing more than a foil. He knows he can activate the other side,” said a source familiar with Obama’s thinking.
The former president is “going to be involved this fall in a very Obamaesque, smart way,” the source added.
Democrats say that one way Obama can have a big impact on races is by urging infrequent voters to show up to the polls in November, something that will be a major theme of the former president’s speech on Friday.
“He will echo his call to reject the rising strain of authoritarian politics and policies. And he will preview arguments he’ll make this fall, specifically that Americans must not fall victim to our own apathy by refusing to do the most fundamental thing demanded of us as citizens: vote,” said Obama communications director Katie Hill.
Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenWatchdog says administration officials made misleading statements on FBI headquarters Russia election meddling fears expand to other countries Senate Dems dodge Trump impeachment talk MORE (D-Md.), the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), said the party welcomes Obama’s help but noted it’s up to individual candidates whether to invite him to their states.
“We welcome his participation in these races as a DSCC. Every Senate candidate will decide in conversation with President Obama whether it makes sense for him to come to their states,” Van Hollen said on CSPAN’s “Newsmakers” program last month.
Van Hollen noted that Obama held a joint fundraiser for the DSCC and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last year.
Obama also held a fundraiser in May for Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillOvernight Health Care: Opioid bill, action on drug prices top fall agenda | ObamaCare defenders prep for court case | Koch group ad hits McCaskill on health care Election Countdown: Stunning upset in Florida Dem primary for governor | DeSantis under fire for ‘monkey this up’ remark | Arizona gov faces pressure over McCain replacement | Koch group pours M into Senate ads Koch group pours nearly M into ads to boost three GOP Senate candidates MORE (D-Mo.), who is running in a state Trump won by 19 points.
Still, the former president has held off on endorsing Democratic senators running in states won by Trump, even though he has backed Democratic candidates down the ballot in some of those states.
For example, while he endorsed Richard CordrayRichard Adams CordrayConfirm Judge Kavanaugh for the betterment of the CFPB Kraninger has the tools to rein in an unwieldy CFPB Trump knocks Dem in Ohio governor’s race: He was groomed by ‘Pocahontas’ MORE, Betty Sutton and Steve Dettelbach, the Democratic candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general in Ohio, respectively — as well as two U.S. House candidates and a slew of state House candidates in the Buckeye State — he did not endorse Brown, the incumbent U.S. senator.
Asked why his name was missing from Obama’s endorsement list, Brown said, “I don’t have any idea” but added, “I make nothing of that.”
The Democratic senator noted that Obama is likely to make additional endorsements and said he would welcome his support.
“I’d love for him to come to Ohio and help us with voter turnout for Cordray and for me,” he said.
Democratic sources say Obama will campaign with Casey in Pennsylvania, even though the former president also didn’t include him on the list of candidates from the Keystone State he endorsed last month.
Obama announced his support for two House candidates in Pennsylvania, Madeleine Dean and Susan Wild, and three state House candidates, but not Casey.
Trump carried both Ohio and Pennsylvania over Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWashington honors McCain at funeral Trump blasts FBI, DOJ over report on Carter Page surveillance warrants Giuliani praises Cohen’s lawyer for having ‘more integrity than CNN’ MORE in 2016. He won Ohio by 8 points and Pennsylvania by less than 1 point.
When Obama made his first round of endorsements in August, he stayed away from Democratic Senate candidates with the exception of Rep. Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenElection Countdown: Stunning upset in Florida Dem primary for governor | DeSantis under fire for ‘monkey this up’ remark | Arizona gov faces pressure over McCain replacement | Koch group pours M into Senate ads Biden’s midterm strategy has a presidential feel Battle of the billionaires drives Nevada contest MORE (D), who is running to unseat Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerOvernight Defense: Trump says ‘no reason’ for South Korea war games right now | Mattis tries to clear confusion | Arizona begins remembrances for McCain | Inhofe poised to take Armed Services gavel Election Countdown: Stunning upset in Florida Dem primary for governor | DeSantis under fire for ‘monkey this up’ remark | Arizona gov faces pressure over McCain replacement | Koch group pours M into Senate ads McCain honored at Arizona Capitol MORE (R) in Nevada — the only Senate battleground that Trump lost.
Obama’s endorsement in state and local races is less likely to hurt Democratic candidates because those contests are often less partisan than federal races. The GOP strategy in Senate races in red states is to tie the centrist Democratic incumbents to party leaders in Washington.
One Democratic strategist said the lack of endorsements from Obama falls under the ‘do no harm’ category.
“Both of those senators are doing well their respective states and they don’t exactly need Obama’s seal of approval. In fact, it might do more harm than good,” the strategist said. “Obama is still popular with certain folks in those states but he’s not exactly popular with some others.”
But Chuck Rocha, a Democratic strategist, said he doesn’t think it has to do with unpopularity but a focus on races that need his support.
“There are others who have tougher races than Sherrod’s and Casey’s,” he said. “Those races are shaping up to be easier than some others … And they have robust war chests so they don’t really need Barack ObamaBarack Hussein Obama7 subtle jabs speakers took at Trump during John McCain’s funeral New York Daily News honors John McCain, Aretha Franklin: ‘The heart & soul of America’ Cindy McCain tweets after husband’s funeral: ‘Together we go on’ MORE‘s endorsement.”
Rocha said he wouldn’t expect Obama to endorse senators like Tester and Heitkamp. “Places like that, they’re probably not advocating to get that endorsement.”
A person familiar with Obama’s thinking cautioned against reading too much into his endorsements, noting that he will come out with another round before Election Day.
Casey expects to receive Obama’s support and to campaign with him in the next few weeks.
“We look forward to campaigning with him, we hope, in the fall. I hope to. I don’t know what the schedule will be,” he said.
Casey said he thinks Obama would help Democrats up and down the ballot if he campaigns in Pennsylvania and noted that Obama has made it a priority to focus on local races in order to give Democrats more leverage in future congressional redistricting.
Patrick Rodenbush, communications director for the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, said Obama has been very helpful in trying to give Democrats more influence over future congressional district maps.
“He helped us with fundraising since we were launched in 2017,” he noted. “He cut a video for us in July about the stakes of redistricting and why these elections in November matter.”
“He’s going to hit the road in September. We expect he’ll talk about the issue of redistricting when he’s out on the trail,” he added.
Obama also headlined fundraisers for the Democratic National Committee in September of last year and this past June.
Published at Sun, 02 Sep 2018 17:22:36 +0000