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Dems running in the midterms don't want Biden around and are getting the cold shoulder from Obama?

Why Biden and Obama Are Staying Away from Midterm Races

Many Democrats don’t want the current president and can’t book the former one.

James Freeman, WSJ

Oct. 10, 2022 3:09 pm ET

Spare a thought for Democrats running in this fall’s elections. Many of them have been making awkward efforts to avoid campaigning with our unpopular president, Joe Biden. Now it seems a number of these candidates are about to find out that they also won’t be campaigning with former President Barack Obama. Does the two-time national campaign winner know something they don’t?

As for our current president, for months a number of Democrats on the ballot have been finding opportunities not to appear with him. This trend appears to be continuing. ABC’s Rick Klein, Alisa Wiersema, and Lalee Ibssa report today that “with debate season in full swing, Democrats in make-or-break races are looking for ways to put daylight between themselves and Biden’s White House.” The ABC report adds:

On Friday, at the first and likely only Arizona Senate debate of the year, Sen. Mark Kelly called the situation at the southern border “a mess” and touted areas where he has broken with Biden on gas prices and inflation.

“When Democrats are wrong, like on the border, I call them out on it,” Kelly said, per ABC News’ Libby Cathey.

If only Mr. Kelly really had broken with the president on the big inflation-feeding spending plans of the Biden era, perhaps prices would be more restrained. Unfortunately Mr. Kelly provided an essential vote for the disastrous “American Rescue Plan” in March of 2021. Instead of learning from this mistake, he provided another essential vote for the similarly misnamed “Inflation Reduction Act” in August of this year. Mr. Kelly has also backed the inflationary Biden plan to move student debt from borrowers to taxpayers, even though the White House wrongly did not permit legislators to vote on it. In a written statement to the Arizona Republic Mr. Kelly even endorsed the canard that the higher education bailout “will be directed at those who need it most.”

Given this unfortunate history, it’s understandable why candidates like Mr. Kelly are looking to create at least the perception of a break with the President.

Elsewhere at ABC, the network’s “This Week” program suggests an especially challenging environment for Mr. Kelly’s party. On Sunday the network’s Terry Moran said that “the economic headwinds are so tough and Biden is -- he just doesn’t have the oomph as a candidate anymore. People don’t really want him around and he can’t really make his case.” Mr. Moran added:

And I would also say, in this country and in other countries, polls are broken, right? It is clear that lots of people on the right just don’t answer anymore. They were worse in 2020 than they were in 2016. And so you look at those polls, it’s close. If it’s close, it’s a Republican win.

What’s harder to understand is the pending absence of a prominent Democrat whose speaking oomph doesn’t appear to have diminished at all. “Democrats won’t get as much Obama as they want in the midterms,” says a CNN headline. Edward-Isaac Dovere writes today:

Requests for Barack Obama are pouring in from Democrats around the country – candidates are desperate for his help in what they feel is an existential midterms battle, one in which each race could help determine control of Congress and governments in the states.

To these candidates, American democracy itself is on the line. And while Obama agrees with them on the stakes, many of those invitations are about to get turned down.

More than a dozen advisers and others who have spoken with Obama say the former president’s approach in the fall campaign will remain limited and careful. That cautious approach comes as Obama tells people his presence fires up GOP opposition just as much as it lights up supporters, that he has more of an impact if he does less and that he can’t cloud out the up-and-coming generation of Democrats.

Why would the former president want to remain limited and careful when his many fans are practically screaming for more cowbell? It’s possible that like any savvy politician seeking to maintain a reputation for wisdom and enduring influence, Mr. Obama is just being careful not to endorse losers. Maybe he foresees a Republican year in the midterm results and wants to be as far away from the debacle as possible.

But perhaps Mr. Obama really does believe that his presence on the campaign trail doesn’t help his party’s candidates. This is remarkable given that polls have shown his popularity rising since he left office and he appears to be among the more popular former presidents. Unlike President Biden, Mr. Obama tends to be a compelling and coherent speaker. There doesn’t appear to be any oomph deficit.

Could it be that the former president has concluded that while voters may like him, his ideas are not any more popular than those of the current president?

Perhaps it’s best to let candidates like Mark Kelly try to present themselves as bipartisan moderates, rather than Obama-Biden Democrats who voted for the party’s big spending agenda when it counted.

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