Verne Strickland Blogmaster / December 16, 2011
NC Dems warming to Obama? (Politico)
Per the White House pool report released just a few moments ago, "North Carolina Congressmen Mike McIntyre, David Price and Heath Shuler accompanied the president on Air Force One to Ft. Bragg."
Roughly a year out from the 2012 presidential election, that may be true. But already, as Obama’s most recent forays into battleground states indicate, there are growing signs that many Democratic politicians don’t want to get too close to him, either.
The past three elections — the Sept. 13 House special elections in New York and Nevada and the Oct. 4 West Virginia gubernatorial special election — haven’t done much to inspire confidence about Obama’s ability to help the entire ticket: The president was unquestionably an anchor on the Democratic nominees in each race.
For Obama, who has led a charmed political life since bursting onto the national stage in 2004 — he was in high demand on the campaign trail even before he won his Senate seat that year — it’s a harbinger of a humbling election year to come.
In North Carolina, only Sen. Kay Hagan, who isn’t up for reelection until 2014, and veteran Rep. Mel Watt, who represents a majority black district, appeared with the president. The state’s six other Democratic House members took a pass, offering a variety of excuses.
“[Obama] may end up being Walter Mondale of 1984,” said Raleigh-based Democratic strategist Brad Crone, recalling that the only elected official who risked being seen with the party’s nominee that year was the longtime agriculture commissioner.
When Obama visited Pittsburgh, Pa., two weeks ago, the story was much the same — no members of Congress to be found. Though two of southwestern Pennsylvania’s three Democratic congressmen greeted the president on the airport tarmac, neither of them attended any of the public events Obama held, choosing instead to return to Washington.
“Southwest Pennsylvania has become over time a difficult place for Democrats because of the perception they are left of center,” said T.J. Rooney, a former Pennsylvania Democratic Party chairman and state legislator.
Some Democrats believe that attempts to keep a distance from the president can only backfire. Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell called it “political idiocy” for Democrats to purposefully avoid a president from their own party.