From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris in Washington.


And I'm Melissa Block at NPR West in California.

President Obama was on the road today delivering a speech on energy and the economy in Boston. But his schedule today also reflects one key demand on any president and that's electoral politics. It's been taking up a lot of the president's time recently.

NORRIS: There are elections next month in New York, New Jersey and Virginia. And then there's fund raising for Democrats in races next year. NPR's White House Correspondent Don Gonyea has this story about the president back on the campaign trail.

DON GONYEA: For state and national Democratic Party organizations, there is no better fundraiser out there than the man who is in the Oval Office. His attendance guarantees a crowd and people who write checks.

(Soundbite of applause)

President BARACK OBAMA: Thank you, everybody.

(Soundbite of applause)

Pres. OBAMA: I love New York.

(Soundbite of cheering)

GONYEA: And if there's a bit of pandering to the local sports teams, all the better.

Pres. OBAMA: And now that the White Sox are out of it...

(Soundbite of applause)

Pres. OBAMA: Is there are any Yankees fans here?

(Soundbite of applause)

Pres. OBAMA: I wish you guys some good luck.

GONYEA: For any candidate anywhere, there is no bigger get than having the president show up. Here he is in Hackensack, New Jersey, two days ago, where Democratic Governor Jon Corzine is in a fierce battle less than two weeks from election day.

Pres. OBAMA: Your voice can elect Jon Corzine governor, once again, of New Jersey. I need you. Jon needs you. Getting health care done depends on you. Getting energy done depends on you. Improving our schools…

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

Professor PATRICK MURRAY (Political Science, Monmouth University): And 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. The Democrats really aren't enthusiastic about their nominees this time around.

GONYEA: But, Murray says Democratic voters are still very enthusiastic about the president. So he's prodding them to get to the polls. But the president is also promoting himself, and his agenda and his battles in Congress with Republicans. The lines in the speech are new, but the tone is right out of his campaign from last year when he was running against the policies of President Bush. This is from New York City this week.

Pres. OBAMA: We understand exactly who and what got us into this mess.

(Soundbite of applause)

Pres. OBAMA: Now, we don't mind cleaning it up. I'm grabbing my mop and my broom.

GONYEA: Then the president points a finger at Republicans, he says, are now simply trying to obstruct his policies.

Pres. OBAMA: Instead of standing on the sidelines, why don't you grab a mop?

(Soundbite of cheering)

Pres. OBAMA: Help us clean up this mess and get America back on track. Grab a mop.

GONYEA: Grab a mop may be an unusual campaign slogan, but it seems the White House has taken a liking to it. It's been a recurring theme for Mr. Obama at several events now. As for the president getting so involved in campaigning in his first year of office, Monmouth University's Murray says it's part of the perception game come election night.

Prof. MURRAY: Whether he goes out or not, it's going to be viewed as a referendum on the president. 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.

GONYEA: And 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.

Don Gonyea, NPR News, the White House.

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