President Obama cancels trip to hold meeting on Ebola
WASHINGTON — The White House announced Wednesday that it was postponing President Barack Obama’s campaign trip — which included stops in Connecticut and New Jersey — in order for the president to meet with “cabinet agencies coordinating the government’s response to the Ebola outbreak.”
With the potency of his last years in office on the line, Obama was expected to cautiously step back on to the campaign trail Wednesday, rallying Democrats in dyed-blue Connecticut working to keep the governor there in office.
But the President will still continue to mostly avoid campaigning in Senate contests, sticking to the gubernatorial campaign trail in three visits over the next week and four more planned trips in the final week of the 2014 season. Only one of those trips — in Michigan — is set to involve Democrat’s Senate nominee.
Vulnerable candidates in places like Kentucky, North Carolina, Arkansas and Louisiana have been loathe to invite Obama to rally for them in their own states, spooked by his low approval ratings and the unpopular policy initiatives they helped move through Congress.
That’s left Obama relegated to the role of chief fundraiser, jetting to wealthy enclaves across the country to try and keep donors encouraged enough about Democrats’ chances to keep writing checks. It’s been a tough sell recently, with Republicans almost certain to retain control of the U.S. House and models giving the GOP an edge to take the Senate.
In Connecticut, where Obama had been scheduled to speak Wednesday, Gov. Dan Malloy is tied with his Republican rival Tom Foley, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Ireland from 2006-2009. A CBS/New York Times poll had both men at 41% among likely voters in a survey taken the last week of September.
A White House official had said earlier Obama would also campaign with two Democratic gubernatorial candidates on Sunday: Anthony Brown in Maryland and Pat Quinn in Illinois. Both have slight edges over their Republican rivals, and will depend on high turnout among African-Americans, one group with which Obama still has sway.
Connecticut and Maryland are both deep blue, swinging in Obama’s direction by wide margins in both 2008 and 2012. In Connecticut, voters have been more willing to send Republicans to the State House — when Malloy took office in 2011 he succeeded two GOP governors.
And Obama will use the final week of the campaign season crisscrossing the country to boost gubernatorial candidates in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Maine and Michigan.
In states with tight Senate races that are either Republican-leaning or true battlegrounds, Democrats have gone to sometimes extreme lengths to avoid Obama’s drag. Alison Lundergan Grimes, challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, wouldn’t even say whether or not she voted for Obama in the last election.
The White House, while defending Obama’s economic record, says issues like Ebola and combating ISIS have occupied the bulk of his time. But they say he’ll do what he can for Democrats ahead of Nov. 4.
“The President obviously has got a few things on his plate these days, but (he) is looking forward to the opportunity to campaign with other candidates in advance of the midterms,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday.