President Obama made his last public campaign appearance this cycle at a rally in Cleveland on Sunday night, but Democratic officials plan on keeping him in the spotlight today as they press ahead with one last appeal to voters before Election Day.
The White House said that Obama will make a round of phone calls on behalf of the party and do a few media interviews today. The Democratic National Committee also made a six-figure TV ad buy featuring Obama making his case for Democrats. The ads began airing Sunday and will be in heavy rotation on MSNBC and BET, two cable networks that have large followings with the Democrats’ base voters.
The media blitz follows three days of campaigning in which the president held rallies on college campuses and in predominantly African-American communities in five states, an effort to mobilize two of Obama’s most loyal voting blocs.
Yet, the president’s last stand on the trail appeared tantamount to triage—a battlefield survey where his attention was centered on minimizing the Democratic bleeding that’s expected Tuesday while silently acknowledging that some candidates cannot be saved.
The dramatic shift in the political terrain comes less than two years after the president added nine states to the Democratic win column. This time around, Obama spent the last days of the campaign focused on seats that Democrats already hold but are now in danger of losing.
Independent polls show that Obama faces the likely prospect of a House that returns to Republican control. In the Senate, the Democrats are expected to hold a narrow majority at best. White House officials publicly maintain that they can hold on to the House, but seem to acknowledge that the odds are stacked against them.
“I’m not writing anything off,” said White House senior adviser David Axelrod. “We’re playing on difficult turf in a midterm election. We knew all of those factors going in, so it is no huge surprise we’re fighting hard.”
On the campaign trail, Obama has tried to make the case to voters that Democrats have begun pulling the economy out of the doldrums that they say Bush-era policies caused. The Republicans, the president says, offer nothing beyond the same ideas that led the country into a financial crisis.
“You hear them now talking about how they are going to cut debt and deficits?” Obama said during his rally in Cleveland. “These are the folks who ran up the deficit. These are the folks that allowed Wall Street to run wild. These are the folks that nearly destroyed our economy.”
While the president will stay in Washington today, he’s dispatching his top two surrogates to make a last-second effort on behalf of Democrats.
Vice President Joe Biden will stop in his home state of Delaware and travel to Vermont to stump for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Shumlin, whose race against Republican Brian Dubie appears to be a toss-up.
First lady Michelle Obama will spend her morning in North Las Vegas stumping for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is in danger of losing his seat to Republican challenger Sharron Angle. Later in the day, the first lady heads to Philadelphia for a rally on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. Democrats are counting on a big turnout in Philadelphia to help bolster Rep. Joe Sestak’s chances at defeating Republican Pat Toomey in the state’s Senate race.
Biden didn’t mince words over the weekend in making his case to voters about what’s at stake.
“Folks, we’re getting up and we’re going to make sure that the bankrupt policies of the Republican Party don’t knock us down again,” Biden said. “We’re starting to get out of this God-awful mess the Republican Party left us with.”
Whether the Democrats hold on to both or one of the chambers, party officials acknowledge that the president’s last two years of his term will likely involve dealing with a more closely divided Congress. And moving the Obama agenda will be more difficult.
To that end, the president’s first order of business after the election is to shift his attention to foreign policy—something where his influence is not easily challenged by Congress. He’ll head to Asia on Friday for 10 days of meetings with leaders.