Democratic senator skips fundraiser with Obama
Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado interviewed by CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash
July 9th, 2014
09:39 AM ET
2 weeks ago

Democratic senator skips fundraiser with Obama

(CNN) - President Barack Obama says keeping the Democrats in control of the Senate is one of his top priorities this year.

But his trip to Colorado is a vivid illustration of just how much the President – who is the party's top fundraiser but who is also saddled with low approval ratings – can, and can't, help.

Obama headlined a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser Wednesday afternoon in Denver, with half the money raised at the event going to Sen. Mark Udall's campaign. The first term Democratic senator from Colorado faces a difficult re-election this year against Rep. Cory Gardner, his GOP challenger. Polls indicate the race between the two candidates is tied up.

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While the President spoke and took questions from those attending the fundraiser at a downtown Denver hotel, Udall wasn't  there.

Originally the senator was scheduled to fly to Denver Wednesday morning to team up with Obama at the closed door fundraiser. That itinerary meant that Udall would have missed attending a speech on the economy the President delivered two hours earlier at Cheesman Park in Denver.

Udall won't make Obama fundraiser

But new developments on Capitol Hill changed Udall's plans.

"Due to last-minute votes and legislative activity, Mark will be unable to make the trip back to Colorado on Wednesday. The Senate has decided to vote on Wednesday to confirm the new U.S. Secretary of Housing & Urban Development, who has authority over issues like flood recovery. Additionally, the Senate will be continuing legislative action on a bipartisan Sportsmen's bill, which includes Mark's legislation to expand access to public shooting ranges, as well as introduction of Mark's bill to secure women's access to contraception," said a statement from Udall's campaign.

The statement ended by saying that "Mark is grateful for the president's support, and had hoped to welcome him to Colorado in person, but his responsibilities to serve Colorado in the Senate come first."

Colorado's other Democratic Senator, DSCC Chairman Michael Bennet, as well as Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette, who represents the state's 1st Congressional District, also missed the fundraiser, due to business back in Washington.

Udall's campaign says the call was a "no-brainer  for us. Representing Colorado in the Senate comes first."

The day job definitely comes first, but a non-partisan analyst said something else may be at play.

"I don't think there are accidents when it comes to the President's schedule and I don't think there are accidents when it comes to senators and members of Congress and their schedules," said Nathan Gonzales, deputy editor of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report.

Avoiding the President?

Udall made headlines back in January, when he avoided answering repeated questions from CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash on whether he'd campaign with Obama when the President traveled to Colorado.

"Does that mean you're going to campaign with him?" Bash asked, during an interview immediately following the State of the Union address.

"We're going to be running a strong campaign based on Colorado's interests and Colorado's future," Udall responded.

"That was not a yes or no," Bash replied.

"We'll see what the president's schedule is, we'll see what my schedule is," Udall said. "But Coloradans are going to reelect me based on my record, not the president's record."

After Bash asked again for a yes or no answer, Udall said "We'll see what the schedule allows."

Even before the last minute change in travel plans, Republicans were pouncing on Udall.

"Sen. Udall's message to the president is clear: Help me rake in campaign cash behind closed doors, keep the media from capturing photos of us together and avoid real Coloradans at all costs," said Garnder spokesman Alex Siciliano.

"Mark Udall has supported Barack Obama 99 percent of the time in Washington, so hiding from the unpopular President and their shared record only proves how vulnerable he is," wrote National Republican Senatorial Committee Press Secretary Brook Hougesen.

It's no mystery why Republicans are trying to tie Udall to Obama. A recent Quinnipiac University poll indicated the President's approval rating among Colorado voters stood at 38%, which is nothing to brag about.

It's a strategy Republicans are using in races across the country this midterm cycle, as they expect to hold their majority in the House and hope to capture the Senate. Democrats have a 55-45 majority in the Senate (53 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the party). But in the midterms, the party is defending 21 of the 36 seats up for grabs, with half of those Democratic-held seats in red or purple states.

Fundraiser-in-Chief

With President Barack Obama's approval rating hovering near its all-time lows – and with polls indicating his health care law remains unpopular with many Americans – the President may not be in high demand this year on the campaign trail.

"If Colorado Democratic Senator Mark Udall doesn't want to be seen with the president, imagine what Democratic Senate hopefuls in West Virginia, South Dakota, Montana, Arkansas and North Carolina must be thinking," pointed out Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the Rothenberg report.

While there are a number of congressional Democrats facing challenging re-elections who aren't screaming for Obama to stump with them, they do

look to the President to bring in the bucks. Because when it comes to fundraising, Obama remains the party's top rainmaker.

Complete Coverage: 2014 Midterm Elections

Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Paul Begala says Obama's doing just what a sitting president should to help his party in a midterm election year.

"Presidents in mid-term elections rarely deliver votes by old-fashioned stumping," said Begala. "Reagan couldn't, nor could Clinton or Bush. But what they can do are two things: raise issues and raise money. With his middle-class economic agenda, he is raising big issues: equal pay for women, raising the minimum wage, pre-K, etc. Now it looks like he's raising big money, too. That's all a party can ask of a President in a mid-term."


Filed under: 2014 • Colorado • Mark Udall • President Obama • Senate • Senate Race
soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. carlos

    "Demos should be embracing Obama with the Dow the highest in history, Bush's deficit cut by 2/3, job creation the highest in decades, only one war which we will be out of soon, etc. If Romney had won the US would be totally screwed by now. If Congress goes Demo we can really get stuff done the next two years."
    ------------–
    Funny how when Wall Street 1%ers are doing well under an Democrat Admin u hear no outrage about the poor on main street struggling. Bush deficit was $400 billion when Obama took office. In 2009, Obama passed a spending bill with over $1.4 Trillion deficit. The deficit now is approx. $700 billion. So when Obama triples the "Bush deficit" and then bring that down to half, u can hardly say u have reduced the "Bush deficit". But its math I don't expect u to understand. Keep regurgitating liberal lies

    July 9, 2014 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  2. Richard Right

    Well its less than a year to elections and all of a sudden Sen Udall starts doing the right things. Well Senator you were elected to do the right things 6 out of every 6 years , not just rarely to get re-elected. You should have blocked voting for Obamacare until you read the law. You should have taken the leadership among other Dem Senators to select someone other than Sen Reid as Majority leader. And you should have opposed Obama's re-election in 2012. You didn't and you don't deserve re-election yourself

    July 9, 2014 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  3. Justin

    This happend to Bush in 2008 too. GOP told him to stay home. I suppose it started a couple of years earlier this time. Face it with only 41% still drinking the Kool Aid, and 53% of us just being openly racist for opposing the 1st biracial that was elected twice as POTUS. I think we can officially call King Barry a lame duck.

    July 9, 2014 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  4. scmtns

    Obama is great at raising money from wealthy liberal extremists. But, not so good at appealing to the 90% of people whom those extremists seek to have dominion over.

    July 9, 2014 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    carlos

    "Demos should be embracing Obama with the Dow the highest in history, Bush's deficit cut by 2/3, job creation the highest in decades, only one war which we will be out of soon, etc. If Romney had won the US would be totally screwed by now. If Congress goes Demo we can really get stuff done the next two years."
    ----–
    Funny how when Wall Street 1%ers are doing well under an Democrat Admin u hear no outrage about the poor on main street struggling. Bush deficit was $400 billion when Obama took office. In 2009, Obama passed a spending bill with over $1.4 Trillion deficit. The deficit now is approx. $700 billion. So when Obama triples the "Bush deficit" and then bring that down to half, u can hardly say u have reduced the "Bush deficit". But its math I don't expect u to understand. Keep regurgitating liberal lies
    ========================================================================
    You're talking nonsense. The last fiscal year of the Bush-43 administration was FY2008-09, which had a deficit of $1.5 trillion, nearly half of which came from TARP. Republicans were real slick with the vote, too. They could have put it on FY2007-08. They voted in down on a Tuesday, Sept. 2008, and passed it on a Friday, Oct. 2, 2008. They pushed it into the next fiscal year, so that they could blame Democrats irregardless if McCain winning or losing.

    July 9, 2014 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
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