Democrats are turning to Bill and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBen Affleck: Republicans 'want to dodge the consequences for their actions' through gerrymandering Republican Ohio Senate candidate slams JD Vance over previous Trump comments Budowsky: Why GOP donors flock to Manchin and Sinema MORE — and not President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden Supreme Court study panel unanimously approves final report To advance democracy, defend Taiwan and Ukraine Press: GOP freak show: Who's in charge? MORE — to save their majority in the Senate.
The Clintons have crisscrossed the country in recent weeks for Democratic candidates, and will each appear in key states this weekend where races could decide which party controls the upper chamber.
While Obama has been mostly sidelined — he’ll appear at a Michigan rally on Saturday where Democrats believe a Senate seat is safely in hand — the Clintons are traveling to red states where the president is not welcome.
On Saturday, Hillary Clinton will appear alongside Sen. Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuCassidy wins reelection in Louisiana Bottom line A decade of making a difference: Senate Caucus on Foster Youth MORE (D-La.). She’ll then travel to Kentucky to appear alongside Senate candidate Allison Lundergan Grimes, who is running against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSchumer tees up key Thursday vote on debt deal House approves bill to ease passage of debt limit hike Senate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale MORE (R-KY.)
Former Secretary of State Clinton will travel the next day to New Hampshire to appear at a get out the vote rally for Gov. Maggie Hassan and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.
Meanwhile, Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonIs the US capable of thinking strategically? Bob Dole: heroic, prickly and effective Biden on Bob Dole: 'among the greatest of the Greatest Generation' MORE, his approval ratings still sky high, will stump in North Carolina for Sen. Kay Hagan (D) before heading back to his home state of Arkansas for one final rally for Sen. Mark Pryor (D).
Obama has been stuck mostly campaigning for Democratic governors around the country.
With his approval ratings in the low 40s, most Democratic House and Senate candidates have wanted him to stay away. In Kentucky, Grimes even refused to say whether she voted for Obama.
The flurry of visits by the Clintons comes with some responsibility.
If Democrats do poorly on Election Day, Republicans will seek to put the blame on them.
But Democrats and many pundits believe that will be a hard argument to make — in large part because of Obama.
“The loss will be attributed primarily to Obama not the Clintons,” said Cal Jillson, a professor at Southern Methodist University.
“It’s a tall order to expect from a former president and secretary of state. I think there are candidates that are happy to have her and happy to have Bill at their sides. But it’s more that the party sees them as having a profile more acceptable to the electorate as Obama’s current profile,” he said.
Steve Elmendorf, a top Washington lobbyist who served as deputy campaign manager on Sen. John Kerry’s presidential campaign, said while both Clintons were extremely popular on the campaign trail, this election isn’t about either of them.
“Surrogates are valuable to raise money, get you some press, turn out the base, but are they ultimately what each of these races is about? No,” he said. “These races are so baked one way or the other. I don’t think any surrogate should be given credit or blame.”
Republicans, of course, don’t see it that way. They’re looking particularly at Hillary Clinton’s surrogacy this cycle to determine what the early stages of her potential candidacy could look like.
Kirsten Kukowski, a spokesperson for the Republican National Committee, pointed as proof to a campaign event earlier this week when Clinton stumped for Anthony Brown, who is running for governor in Maryland.
Kukowski called the event “lackluster” and “sparsely attended,” and said it spoke of Clinton’s effectiveness more than anything.
“She’s already been ineffective in places she tried to help for 2014 and prior to this, she and Bill have already had a dismal track record,” she said. “Apparently, Maryland isn’t so ready for the Democrat ticket in 2014 or Hillary.”
Clinton allies say they expect that talking point from their Republican counterparts. But they say they are confident that the Clintons did more to help Democratic candidates than any other surrogate around.
And they’re happy to point out that the Clintons are more helpful than the Obamas to most Democrats this year.
“There’s no one else who can do what they do, not even the sitting president and first lady” said one longtime Clinton ally. “It’s a function of their history, public service and their networks and no one else comes close. “