Valdosta Daily Times

Top News

June 13, 2013

Obama tests political might in Boston, Miami

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — President Barack Obama put his second-term appeal to the test Wednesday in Boston and Florida, seeking to boost Democratic candidates as a fundraiser and a political drawing card even while trailed by controversies over government intrusion.

In Massachusetts, the president rallied for a Democratic Senate candidate who has challenged phone and Internet surveillance under Obama’s administration. As he raised campaign cash for his party in Florida, he attracted protesters upset over the surveillance programs, Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative groups and the deadly attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

Each stop lends Obama’s proven ability to energize Democrats to the party’s cause this year and next, with control of Congress and Obama’s second-term agenda at stake. But the visits also create opportunities for Republicans eager to link their Democratic opponents to the Obama administration’s recent troubles.

Obama rolled up his sleeves at a stadium in Boston, tuning his voice to the campaign cadences of his own re-election run last year to pitch for Rep. Ed Markey, the Democratic hopeful in a nationally watched special Senate election.

“I’ve got to have folks in the United States Senate who are willing to stand up for working people just like I have,” he said. Markey, he added, “will be my partner.”

In headlining a rally for Markey, Obama sought to fulfill a pledge to work harder to help elect Democrats than he did in years past, when he was criticized for doing too little to help his party win elections. But taking a higher-profile role is a risky proposition that raised questions about whether the president will be more asset or liability to his party in the coming election season.

Moreover, the president is carrying out his partisan duties while at the same time seeking bipartisan cooperation from Republicans on key issues, most notably an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws.

Fundraising for the Democratic Party hours later at a lavish home in Miami Beach, Obama said he was pleased by a pair of successful procedural votes on the immigration bill Tuesday that passed with broad support from both parties. But his tone remained plainly partisan as he told Democratic donors they’re part of a movement whose core principle is that everyone in America should have a chance at success.

“That’s us. That’s what the Democratic Party is all about,” Obama said. He added that he was willing to work with Republicans who are open to compromise but that “it would be a whole lot easier” if Democrats had solid majorities in both chambers of Congress.

About 50 supporters paid between $1,000 and $32,400 — the legal maximum — to attend the dinner with Obama in Miami Beach, and another 175 or so donors attended a reception at a nearby home Wednesday evening. Greeting him with a kiss at the airport and accompanying him to both stops was Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida congresswoman known for mincing no words in attacking her party’s GOP opponents.

Even in Democrat-friendly Massachusetts, there are signs of modest declines in Obama’s popularity as Republicans seize on the White House’s struggles in the June 25 special election to replace John Kerry and in nascent campaigns across the nation.

“We hope that the president thinks he’s going to be an asset, and goes all over the place,” said Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman. “When you look at how the candidates are reacting, so far the early ones are running away fast.”

Markey last week criticized the government’s massive collection of personal phone and Internet records, even as Obama defended the practice. The disclosures about the National Security Agency surveillance came with the administration already facing questions over the IRS’ improper targeting of conservative groups, the seizure of journalists’ phone records and the handling of the attack in Libya last year that left four Americans dead.

In Massachusetts, 60 percent of likely voters in the coming special election give the president favorable marks, according to a Suffolk University poll released this week. While a strong number, that’s a decline from last month. Nationally, Obama’s approval ratings are hovering at just under 50 percent.

“The numbers that you’ve seen dropping nationally are dropping here as well,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “There are some Massachusetts voters who are beginning to question the administration on some of these issues.”

At a minimum, the shift complicates the president’s promise to go all out for the party in the 2014 elections, mindful that sending more Democrats to Congress could be the difference between success and failure for key aspects of his agenda such as immigration, climate change and a budget deal. Republicans control the House, and the Democrats’ Senate majority could be in jeopardy.

Democratic officials say Obama has agreed to headline at least 20 party fundraisers in and out of Washington. That’s in addition to candidate-specific events like Wednesday’s rally in Massachusetts. The aggressive schedule has seen Obama campaign so far this year in California, Texas, Illinois, New York and Georgia. He raised $3.25 million for House Democrats on a single day in April in San Francisco.

But Obama probably won’t attend many rallies in places like Louisiana, Arkansas and West Virginia, where Democrats are defending Senate seats in conservative-friendly territory.

“Every candidate has to make their own decision,” said David Plouffe, who ran Obama’s 2008 campaign. “You don’t force yourself on a campaign. If they want the help, they’re going to ask.”

———

Peoples reported from Boston. Associated Press writer Curt Anderson contributed to this report.

 

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Valdosta Daily Times e-Edition, or our print edition

1
Text Only
Top News
  • Bears spotted on Baytree Road

    A pair of bear sightings along Baytree Road could indicate a growing black bear population in Lowndes County.

    July 29, 2014

  • photo.JPG Dump truck suspects apprehended

    LCSO has apprehended both of the suspects believed to be connected with the theft of a dump truck in Macon on Monday.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dollar Tree-Family Do_Rich copy.jpg Dollar Tree buys Family Dollar

    The fight for penny pinchers is intensifying.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • APTOPIX Mideast Israe_Rich copy.jpg Gaza war rages despite Hamas, Israel truce pledges

    Israel and Hamas launched new attacks Sunday in the raging Gaza war, despite going back and forth over proposals for a temporary halt to nearly three weeks of fighting ahead of a major Muslim holiday.
    The failure to reach even a brief humanitarian lull in the fighting illustrated the difficulties in securing a more permanent truce as the sides remain far apart on their terms.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ga. woman sentenced in child abuse case

    The mother of a 1-year-old boy who was hospitalized with a fractured skull in 2012 has been sentenced to nine years in prison.

    July 29, 2014

  • AP81072904918 copy.jpg Today in History for Tuesday, July 29, 2014

    Today is Tuesday, July 29, the 210th day of 2014. There are 155 days left in the year.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • United Way presents fundraising prom

    Save the date — and make sure to find one — for The Prom, a retro-celebration to benefit the Greater Valdosta United Way.

    July 29, 2014

  • Times hosts blood drive

    The Valdosta Daily Times will participate in a blood drive, 12:30-5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 1, with the American Red Cross Bloodmobile visiting The Times’ 201 N. Troup St. parking lot.

    July 29, 2014

  • Free health fair planned for Quitman on Aug. 9

    A free health fair hosted by the 100 Black Men of Brooks-Grady-and-Thomas Counties, Inc. and sponsored by Archbold Hospital will take place Aug. 9  from 8 a.m.-noon. The second annual 100 B-G-T Health Fair will be located at the Courtland Avenue Church of Christ in Quitman. All Valdosta-Lowndes County residents are welcome to attend.

    July 29, 2014

  • Lake Park considers millage rate increase

    Lake Park has tentatively adopted a millage rate which will result in a 29.64 percent increase in property taxes.

    July 28, 2014

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results