President Obama plans to be the star guest for at least eight fundraising events around the country over the next five weeks for House and Senate Democrats, sources say.
The aggressive cross-country trip comes after a government shutdown battered Republican approval ratings and raised Democratic hopes of keeping control of the Senate and winning back the House for Obama’s final two years in office.
Obama enjoyed having his party wield power during his first two years in office, and seeing Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) return to the House Speakership would dramatically increase his sway while limiting his days as a lame-duck president.
The fundraising push starts Friday in New York with events for House Democrats and the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The president will then head to Boston for another House Democratic fundraiser on Oct. 30, before traveling early next month to Miami and Philadelphia to raise money at two events for Senate Democrats.
Obama will then head to Seattle and San Francisco to raise money for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the fundraising arm of House Democrats.
In late November, Obama will do a joint event for the DCCC and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in Los Angeles. Obama is also expected to travel next month to Dallas, where he postponed an event because of the government shutdown earlier this month, for another fundraiser.
First lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaObamas to break ground Tuesday on presidential center in Chicago Michelle Obama looks to mobilize voters for midterms We must mount an all-country response to help our Afghan allies MORE, sources say, will also lend her support at upcoming committee events, including a DNC event in Washington.
Senior administration officials insist Obama won’t just be a campaigner-in-chief in the coming months.
“There’s this conspiracy theory out there that we’ve given up on legislating and want to take the House,” one senior administration official said. “The fact is that there is going to be aggressive engagement on a whole host of issues.”
House passage of immigration reform would add to Obama’s legacy, giving him an accomplishment that would turn around what has been a lackluster second term so far.
“Given the choice, if we could only have one, he’d rather have immigration reform,” the official said of winning back the House. Many observers, however, are pessimistic immigration reform will move ahead before the 2014 elections, something even Obama allies acknowledge.
“I don’t think it’s looking good legislatively,” one Democratic strategist close to the White House said.
Congressional Republicans in the House have fought tooth and nail with the president since they took over the lower chamber in 2011, and the recent shutdown fight did nothing to alleviate the bitterness on both sides.
“He’s trapped. I think this recent crisis taught us that,” the Democratic strategist said.
A second administration source said the smart strategy for Obama would be to focus now on the 2014 elections.
“We need the House back and the Senate’s got a lot at stake, too, and we’d still have time to get some stuff done,” the official said.
At the same time, the official said that by holding strong in the upcoming budget battles and pressing Republicans to move on immigration, the White House could keep House control in play and perhaps move its agenda forward too.
“Republicans will see it’s a short-sighted political strategy [to oppose immigration reform], given the change in demographics in the country,” the official said.
Obama’s vigorous campaign schedule, which will keep him on the road for much of November, suggests a real focus on 2014.
On Nov. 6, he’ll attend the fundraising event in Dallas before traveling to Miami for another event two days later. On Nov. 14, he’ll head to Philadelphia, before he travels to the West Coast at the end of the month for the string of events.
More travel is planned for next year, though Democratic campaign committee officials are just beginning to have conversations with the White House about the schedule — and specific requests for where Obama will go, sources say.
“So far so good,” one Democratic official said when asked how the White House has handled requests.
Earlier this year, Obama made his intentions of helping candidates for both chambers known: he committed to holding 10 fundraisers outside the Beltway — five each for House and Senate Democrats.
He also planned to host one fundraiser for each respective committee and stop by two joint events for the two organizations in Washington.
Obama, who has fared much better than Congress in recent polls, is still popular with many candidates in both chambers, Democratic officials say. A senior Democratic official said he is “still a draw at events.”
“We continue to lean on the president for fundraising support,” the official said. “I mean, he’s the president.”