With the 2014 midterms nearing, Democrats are wary of hitting the campaign trail with President Obama. A group ranging from first-time candidates to longtime incumbents has distanced itself from the White House’s unpopular policies.
Vulnerable red-state Democrats are making the most forceful effort to do so. North Carolina’s Kay Hagan and Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu have both turned down opportunities to attend public events with the president in their respective states. After the State of the Union on Tuesday, Mark Begich of Alaska said he was “not really interested in campaigning” with President Obama.
“I don’t need him campaigning for me — I need him to change some of his policies,” he told CNN.
Vocal opposition to the administration’s policies has been another tactic used by Democrats. In his post-speech comments, Arkansas’s Mark Pryor criticized the president for his stances on gun-control and the Keystone XL pipeline. Natalie Tennant, who is trying to hold West Virginia’s Jay Rockefeller’s seat for Democrats, has urged the president to “rethink” his stance on energy and called him “wrong on coal.” “I will fight him or anyone else who wants to take our coal jobs,” she said.
But hesitancy to be associated with Obama is not limited to Republican-leaning states. After Tuesday’s speech, Mark Udall from the purple state of Colorado refused to say whether he wanted the president to stump for him. Wisconsin’s Democratic candidate for governor, Mary Burke, who is challenging Republican Scott Walker, skipped out on the president’s visit to the state on Thursday.
A recent Gallup poll revealed that Democrats will have to defend five Senate seats in ten states where President Obama is unpopular in 2014 – Arkansas, Alaska, Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia — where Democrats will surely distance themselves from the president. Overall, the president is below 50 percent approval in 39 states.