The Campaign Spot

Obama’s ‘Jobs Act’ Tour Strangely Avoids Wavering Democrats

White House press secretary Jay Carney declared, “The president is campaigning for jobs.” But instead of heading to states where there are persuadable senators, he’s heading to 2012 swing states.

As NBC News correspondent Norah O’Donnell noticed, Obama somehow feels the need to hold events to promote this legislation — again, the legislation, not his reelection bid — only in states that are considered in play in the 2012 presidential election.

Immediately after his address to Congress, Obama touted the act in Richmond, Virginia; Columbus, Ohio; and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. In Virginia, Obama’s job approval/disapproval split is 40/54; in Ohio it’s 44/52; in North Carolina, it’s 40/54.

So Obama can’t quite intimidate wavering members of Congress to support his “American Jobs Act” by impressing them with his immense popularity. If you think about it, the lawmakers most likely to be persuaded would be red-state Democrats. At least with them, he can appeal to party loyalty and the argument that their fates are tied; a country vastly disapproving of Obama is likely to throw out a lot of red-state Democrats along with him in 2012. If his numbers improve, their chances of survival improve.

So on paper, Obama would be better off reaching out to Sens. Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, Jon Tester of Montana, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. And then there’s Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who sounds iffy. (The Senate’s other Democratic Nelson up for reelection next year, Bill of Florida, is making generally positive noises.) Of course, all those senators probably don’t want Obama coming to their states, and Louisiana, Montana, West Virginia, and Nebraska aren’t really on Obama’s target list for 2012.

Even then, it doesn’t appear that the rallies for the Jobs Act are really working, at least on Democrats who represent states Obama has visited, or at least not yet:

Senator Kay Hagan declined on Wednesday to say her support for the bill that Mr. Obama spent the day promoting in her state was indubitable. “We’ve got to have legislation that is supported by Democrats and Republicans,” she said. “I’m going to have to look at it.”

Representative Heath Shuler, another North Carolina Democrat, said Congress should tame the deficit before approving new spending for job programs. “The most important thing is to get our fiscal house in order,” said Mr. Shuler, a leader of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition. “Then we can talk about other aspects of job creation.”

On Thursday, Obama’s Jobs Act tour goes back to the swing state of Ohio. Coincidentally, of course.

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