Pelosi: Obama won't drag down Dems

Lauren Schniederman

President Obama won't be a liability to Democratic candidates in this year's midterm elections, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday.

Obama's approval ratings have dipped below 50 percent in most polls, leading the president reportedly to tell Senate Democrats this week that he'd avoid those places where a visit could harm a candidate's standing.

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But asked if the president might be "a drag" on the Democratic ticket, Pelosi didn't think twice.

"Absolutely not," she said during a press briefing in the Capitol. "We're very proud of our president and what he stands for."

Pelosi said time restraints will inevitably require Democrats to use Obama's star power strategically on the campaign trail. But the notion that they would discourage his participation — even as Democrats work to defend a fragile six-seat Senate majority — was quickly dismissed by the former Speaker. 

"We have to prioritize. There are only so many days in the week and only few of those that the president might be available," she said. "But, no, we're very, very proud of our president. We're very proud of the record we had with him when we had the majority."

Obama's standing in public opinion polls has ticked upward in recent months, but his approval rating remains at 45 percent, according to the latest CNN/ORC International poll, while 50 percent of respondents disapprove.

The figures have not been overlooked by Obama, who told Senate Democrats Wednesday at a retreat in Washington that he'd be willing to avoid districts where he's unpopular for fear of undermining Democrats, CNN reported this week.

House Democrats, who would need to pick up 17 seats to retake the majority, are not expected to do so in a midterm election cycle with a lame-duck president. But, ignoring the prognosticators, Pelosi and the Democrats have far outraised the Republicans in campaign funding, and insist they have a good shot at the gavel.

"We're in a very positive place," Pelosi said. "There's so much at stake. And our members know that the American people have a lot to lose unless we make this fight vigorously."

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