Three weeks ago, Barack Obama paid a visit to North Carolina for a speech — at which incumbent Democrat Senator Kay Hagan, who faces a tough re-election bid in November, was curiously absent. Obama name-checked her anyway, which was interpreted as a slap at Hagan for attempting to distance herself from her party’s leader. Last week, Hagan refused to answer when asked whether her ties to Obama would hurt her re-election bid.
Now, suddenly, even Obama seems to understand that he’s an anchor on incumbents in the next election. He’s offering to stay out of their states now, according to the Washington Post:
President Obama, struggling with low approval ratings after a dispiriting year of setbacks, conceded in private remarks Wednesday that some fellow Democrats might not want his help in this fall’s elections.
The candid self-appraisal came during a policy retreat with the Senate Democratic caucus at the Washington Nationals’ stadium, part of a flurry of outreach efforts with congressional Democrats this week focused on crafting strategies for the midterms.
“He said he knew he is not popular in some of the states so he would not be offended if he were not invited to visit them this year,” said one senator who requested anonymity to discuss the private meeting. “But he said he could be helpful in some parts of some states.”
That wasn’t the only issue on the minds of Capitol Hill Democrats. One wanted to know why no heads have rolled over the grossly incompetent handling of ObamaCare, which will be the biggest issue in 2014 races no matter how often Obama talks about “income inequality”:
During the event with House members in the East Room, Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.) told Obama that someone should be fired for the health-care law’s botched rollout in the fall, according to several people who attended the meeting. The moment was made more awkward because Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was among the Cabinet members who mingled with the lawmakers.
“I asked what’s been on my mind for months,” Shea-Porter said in an interview Wednesday. “I don’t think there’s any shock anywhere around the country that somebody should be held accountable and that I would ask that question.”
Awkward is one word for it. It’s going to be a lot more awkward on the campaign trail when Democrats have to defend their votes for it.
The change in stance since mid-January probably has to do with the reception of his State of the Union speech, which didn’t exactly impress anyone, and the realization of the impact from the CBO report on the election. No one’s going to take the “job lock” explanation seriously, especially with so many instances of Democrats going on the record that ObamaCare would boost the economy, not shrink the workforce. Spinners can twirl that baton for months, but they’re not going to build a parade out of it.
Suddenly, a bunch of executive orders to demonstrate presidential power doesn’t look so good to Democrats, either. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) declared that it rubbed him the wrong way when Obama threatened unilateral action in the state of the union speech. Alaska’s Mark Begich said the same thing to Jake Tapper yesterday. Begich has a website that hails the Democratic Senator as someone who is “as independent as Alaska.” Get ready to see a lot of “independent” Democrats trying to keep their seats in November.