Obama In Campaign Mode To Boost Party, Agenda

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President Obama i

President Obama gestures during an address at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge, Mass. Steven Senne/AP hide caption

toggle caption Steven Senne/AP
President Obama

President Obama gestures during an address at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge, Mass.

Steven Senne/AP

President Obama was on the road again Friday, delivering a speech on energy and the economy in Boston. But his day's schedule also reflects one of the ongoing demands on any president: politics.

Some of the focus has been on elections next month in New York, New Jersey and Virginia, but it also has been about raising money for Democrats in midterm elections next year. The president was in Massachusetts and Connecticut Friday. Next week, there's more fundraising in Florida.

For state and national Democratic Party organizations, there is no better fundraiser than Obama. His attendance guarantees a crowd — and people who write checks.

For any candidate anywhere, there is no bigger "get" than having the president show up.

"Your voice can elect Jon Corzine governor once again of New Jersey," Obama said Wednesday in Hackensack, N.J. "I need you. Jon needs you. Getting health care done depends on you. Getting energy done depends on you. Improving our schools depends on you. So I've just got one question for you. Are you fired up?"

Firing Up A Disengaged Base

Political scientist Patrick Murray of Monmouth College in New Jersey says there is a simple reason the president is getting so involved: to fire up the base at a time when Democratic voters may be complacent or disengaged.

"What we're seeing in the polling that I'm looking at is that Democratic voters right now are not as enthusiastic about going out to vote as they were last year, when the presidential race was at the top of the ballot in places like New Jersey and Virginia and New York," Murray says. "The Democrats really aren't enthusiastic about their nominees this time around."

'Grab A Mop'

Murray says, however, that Democratic voters are still very enthusiastic about the president. So the president is prodding them to get to the polls. But Obama is also promoting himself, his agenda, and his battles in Congress with Republicans. The lines in the speech are new, but the tone is right out of his own campaign from last year, when he was running against the policies of President Bush.

"We understand exactly who and what got us into this mess," Obama said to applause in New York City on Wednesday. "Now, we don't mind cleaning it up — I'm grabbing my mop and my broom."

Obama then pointed a finger at Republicans, who he says are now simply trying to obstruct his policies.

"Instead of standing on the sidelines, why don't you grab a mop?" he asked. "Help us clean up this mess and get America back on track!"

"Grab a mop" may be an unusual campaign slogan, but it seems the White House has taken a liking to it. It has been a recurring theme for Obama at several events.

As for Obama getting so involved in campaigning in his first year of office, Murray says it's a part of the perception game come election night.

"Whether he goes out or not, it's going to be viewed as a referendum on the president," he says. "So, he might as well get out there and put his name out there and try to rally the troops, because if he doesn't and these folks lose, he's still going to be viewed as a president who couldn't win in the year after he was elected."

This is just the beginning. Much of the money the president is raising this year will be spent in races during next year's midterm elections for Congress — votes that will matter to him even more than this fall's.



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