DNC chief: Candidates running from Obama are making a mistake

Democrats running in tough reelection races this fall are wrong to keep their distance from President Obama, Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Tim Kaine said Monday.

In an interview with The Hill, Kaine said House Democrats who do not run with Obama’s agenda risk alienating their most energetic supporters.

“If you distance yourself from the president, you can pour cold water on the excitement about what he is doing,” said Kaine, who alluded to Democrat Creigh Deeds’s problems.

Deeds lost a gubernatorial election in Kaine’s home state of Virginia last year after distancing himself from Obama, who had won Virginia’s electoral votes in the presidential context just a year earlier.

“I can tell you this. Everywhere I go, every last community I visit, there are energetic supporters of this president who are excited about what he is doing,” Kaine said.

Earlier on Monday, Kaine was asked by NBC’s “Today” show host Matt Lauer why some candidates “don’t want to be seen” with Obama.

Kaine replied: “Well, I think the candidates who are worried about it are making a mistake, because I think this president still is doing the great work that the Americans expect of him.”

Kaine touted the work the Obama administration has done to help bring the economy out of the deep recession, saying it will also help Democrats politically.

Polls suggest Democrats are in danger of losing the House, and Obama’s approval ratings hit a new low in a recent poll by Gallup and USA Today. Only 41 percent of those surveyed gave Obama their approval in that poll.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs has acknowledged it “would be crazy” for Obama to stump for Democrats in some House districts where he is unpopular.

House Democrats recently have had several tense moments with the White House, especially after Gibbs admitted there is “no doubt” the GOP can win back the House. Several weeks ago, Democratic leaders asked for Obama to be more active in House campaigns.

Kaine acknowledged he has had discussions with the president about the midterms, describing them as “very tough.” But he said Democrats are doing the work to restore the economy, while Republicans want to revert to past policies.

“Democrats have been doing the work necessary to get the nation going again. As the president says, the car was in the ditch,” he told Lauer.

“We’re getting it out of the ditch with job creation, with a new energy strategy, with infrastructure investments.

“What is the alternative?” he said. “When the — when the Republicans were in control during the Lost Decade, Americans lost 8 million jobs. We gained 700,000 private-sector jobs this year. We’re growing again.”

—This story was posted at 10:17 a.m. and updated at 12:26 p.m.

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