Udall cancels appearance with Obama

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) scrapped plans to join President Obama at a fundraiser in his home state on Wednesday, saying that he needed to remain in Washington for last-minute votes.

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The absence of the vulnerable Colorado lawmaker will again raise questions about whether President Obama and his middling approval ratings are an asset or liability for Senate Democrats as they fight to keep control of the upper chamber this fall.

Udall's campaign said the Colorado lawmaker did not want to miss the confirmation vote for San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who was nominated to become the next secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

"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 Udall spokesman Chris Harris.

"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."

Udall had been slated to appear alongside Obama at a fundraiser that jointly benefited his reelection campaign and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. That event is closed to cameras.

Udall’s campaign said earlier in the week the senator would not be attending an open-press speech the president is slated to give Wednesday morning in Denver, meaning there would be no opportunity to capture an image of the pair together.

Republicans have pounced on Udall's cancellation to argue that Obama is a liability for Senate Democrats.

"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," said National Republican Senatorial Committee press secretary Brook Hougesen in a statement. "Mark Udall's disappearing act reinforces why Coloradans have grown tired of his broken promises and have embraced an honest, competent and new leader like Cory Gardner who solves problems instead of hiding from them."

And Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said Udall's absence was part of a larger trend, noting that Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who is also up for reelection this fall, also opted to skip a speech with Obama earlier this month in his home state. Franken did appear alongside Obama at a separate event in his state.

Meanwhile, Udall's opponent, businessman Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), released a new campaign video showing Udall showering praise on Obama at a previous campaign event.

In January, Udall sidestepped questions about whether he would appear alongside Obama at campaign events.

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

But other vulnerable Democrats have been more explicit about not wanting to appear alongside the president.

Alaska Sen. Mark Begich (D) told CNN he was "not really interested in campaigning" with the president.

"I'll drag him around. I'll show him whatever he wants to see," he continued. "But I want to convince him and show him that some of his policies are not the right direction. So I don't need him campaigning for me, I need him to change some of his policies."

Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) also did not travel with Obama to recent visits to their home states.

White House officials have acknowledged that Obama would not be helpful to Democratic candidates in traditionally conservative states, but say they hope to help those lawmakers through fundraising and the president's legislative agenda.

During a speech earlier this year to the Democratic National Committee, Vice President Biden acknowledged that the administration might not always provide a boost to Democrats facing tough races.

"I'll come campaign for you or against you, whichever will help you the most," Biden quipped.