By Justin Sink
Democratic Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, facing a tough reelection fight this fall, believes he can win over voters in his home state by pledging to be an irritant to President Obama.
“I’ll be a thorn in his [posterior],” Begich told The Washington Post. “There’s times when I’m a total thorn, you know, and he doesn’t appreciate it.”
It's not the first time the Alaska lawmaker has looked to distance himself from Obama, whose low approval ratings threaten to drag down Democratic Senate candidates across the country.
If Republicans are able to flip six Senate seats this fall, they'll regain control of the upper chamber.
“I don’t need him campaigning for me — I need him to change some of his policies,” Begich told CNN shortly after the State of the Union address. “If he wants to come up there and learn about Alaska, bring it on — I’ll drag him around, I’ll show him whatever he wants to see.”
Republicans seized on the first-term senator's latest comments, suggesting he would not be able to separate himself from the president.
"I'm no election strategist, but 'running on the power to nag' seems ... unlikely to work," tweeted Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Preibus tweeted a link of a "Morning Joe" panel poking fun at the Alaska senator's attempts to create distance from Obama.
"Democrats are on defense on issues from ObamaCare to the economy and Obama’s coattails are dragging Democrats down across the country," said RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski.
It's the second consecutive week that the White House will face questions about the president's relationship with vulnerable Democratic senators.
Last week, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) cancelled a scheduled appearance with Obama at a fundraiser in Denver, remaining in Washington for Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro's confirmation vote.