Republicans Tout Work with Obama in Campaigns

Obama calls it ‘definition of chutzpah’

Sen. Rob Portman's new radio ads feature African-American pastors and highlight him working with President Barack Obama on the heroin epidemic. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With presidential nominee Donald Trump becoming a weight on down-ballot Republicans, they're tying themselves to an unlikely leader: President Barack Obama.

On Monday, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, released three radio ads with African-American pastors from across the state talking about his  bill to help former prisoners with education and job training.

Each of the ads also says “Rob Portman authored a bipartisan law signed by President Obama to break the grip of heroin addiction.”

Using African-American pastors and talking about criminal justice reform is a clear appeal for black voters, a traditionally Democratic voting bloc.

The ads come despite Portman holding a double-digit lead in polls over his Democratic opponent, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, and the opioid and heroin epidemic is often seen as a white epidemic.

In California, Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, who has found himself in a surprisingly tight race against retired Col. Doug Applegate, released a campaign mailer praising Obama for signing a Survivors' Bill of Rights. 

The mailer features Obama with a small image of Issa, who has long been a critic of the administration on everything from including birth control in health insurance coverage, to the Benghazi attack in 2012.

But Obama pushed back during a fundraising event in La Jolla, California where Applegate was in attendance, saying "that is is the definition of chutzpah."

"Here’s a guy who called my administration perhaps the most corrupt in history — despite the fact that actually we have not had a major scandal in my administration," Obama said, calling Issa "Trump before Trump."

Obama's remarks comes as he campaigned for down-ballot Democrats like former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto. Vice President Joe Biden campaigned for her earlier this month.

Biden is also slated to stump for Missouri's Democratic Secretary of State Jason Kander, who is running against Sen. Roy Blunt, while first lady Michelle Obama plans to campaign with Hillary Clinton in North Carolina.

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