Red-state Dems seek distance from Obama

Some red-state Democrats are putting distance between themselves and President Obama following the his annual State of the Union speech.

Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Senate candidates John Walsh of Montana and Natalie Tennant of West Virginia both put out statements challenging the president following his Tuesday night address.

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Begich, from a heavily Republican, oil-producing state, knocked the president's comments on energy.

"I was disappointed I didn’t hear what Alaskans wanted from the president tonight. While the President delivered a lot of sound bites that may sound good in a speech, we need to hear a clear plan and commitment to economic growth. Specifically, the President missed his chance to talk about national energy security in any meaningful way," he said in a statement.

"The president said he wants to focus on 'fuels of the future' but we should be focusing on the fuels we can develop right now — and that's Alaska oil and gas."

Tennant, from a coal-heavy state where Obama is very unpopular, attacked the president on energy regulations. The Democratic secretary of State is an underdog in the open seat contest against the likely GOP nominee, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.). 

"If the president wants to promote opportunity, he needs to rethink his energy policies. The president is wrong on coal and I will fight him or anyone else who wants to take our coal jobs,” Tennant said. "At the height of our water crisis, no one could tell us how harmful the chemical was or what levels were safe. But, the EPA has time to go after our coal jobs in West Virginia? That doesn't make sense. The EPA needs a new set of priorities."

Walsh, running in libertarian-leaning Montana, challenged Obama on the National Security Agency's domestic spying program.

"[L]ike most Montanans, I believe the president must do more to protect law-abiding citizens and end the NSA's surveillance program. As leaders, we must have the courage to responsibly cut our debt, cut spending and live up to the promises made to America's veterans," said the Democratic lieutenant governor, who also has a tough contest against Rep. Steve Daines (R) for the open seat in Montana.

A number of other Democrats in competitive races praised Obama, with many focusing on the minimum wage.

"I applaud President Obama for standing up for working families struggling to make ends meet. The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is not a living wage and this increase is long overdue. I urge members of Congress to follow suit and raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour for all Americans," said California House candidate Pete Aguilar (D), who's hoping to run against Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) in a Democratic-leaning district. 

"President Obama is right to increase the minimum wage for federal contract workers," said Maine House candidate Emily Cain (D). "Now it is time for Congress to raise the minimum wage for all Americans. Too many people work hard every day, put in the hours week after week, only to earn a paycheck that doesn’t even cover the basics. This is unacceptable to me and it should be unacceptable to every member of Congress."

This post was updated at 12:20 a.m.

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