“You may not even want me to come to your district,” Mr. Obama said, according to guests, nearly all of whom hold seats that Republicans are aggressively seeking.
Three months before the midterm elections, the president is stepping up his involvement in the fight to preserve the Democratic Party’s control of Congress. But advisers said he would concentrate largely on delivering a message, raising money and motivating voters from afar, rather than on racing from district to district…
The president, sensitive to the strains between the White House and Capitol Hill, has started inviting small groups of rank-and-file Democrats over for lunch. At a session last week, participants said, Mr. Obama made clear that he understood many lawmakers had taken difficult political votes to support his agenda…
But several Democratic candidates and party leaders said in interviews that they were not sure Mr. Obama’s political operation was focused on the 2010 fight, and they questioned whether the president sees himself as the head of the party.
“If Republicans do well in this election — and they will do well — the tea party people are going to be right out front claiming credit for everything good that happened,” Teixeira says. “That means they’re going to define Republicans even more than they’re defining them today, and that will make it very hard for Republicans to do what they have to do as they move into the 2012 cycle, which is move to the center. How do the Republicans do that when they’ve unleashed all these furies? It’s very difficult.”
Over the next couple of years, Obama and congressional Democrats could help Republicans escape their dilemma by pulling to the left and thus driving the center of the country to the right — far enough right to let the GOP build a winning coalition of libertarian independents, Republican partisans, and disaffected moderates.
If, however, Obama and the Democrats begin to look serious about controlling spending and deficits, if the economy recovers, and if bailouts fade into the past, the Republicans may find themselves with an unpleasant choice: Lose by embracing debranded Republicans, or lose by abandoning them — but lose either way.
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