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Unpopular Obama's New Gig in 2014: Fundraiser in Chief

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images File Photo
Obama has headlined fundraisers for the Democrats’ campaign arms, helping the DSCC and its chairman, Michael Bennet , left, outraise its GOP counterpart through November.

To be sure, there are plenty of differences between the two presidents entering the election year of their second midterm. Beyond comparisons of their political positioning and effectiveness in passing legislation, though, one major difference is the new world of fundraising and the ubiquity of super PACs that campaigns currently operate under.

To help keep up, Obama headlined five fundraisers each for Democrats’ Senate and House campaign arms, plus a couple of joint events, as well as 15 for the Democratic National Committee.

“Everyone here understands what’s at stake in the midterms next year and how voters in these states will be making critical choices with lasting impacts,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said. “That is why the president is committed to helping candidates who share his priorities prevail next November.”

That early fundraising assistance helped the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee outraise its GOP counterpart by $16 million through November. The party can lose no more than five seats to retain control of the Senate, and the DSCC is banking on that fundraising help to continue.

“Democrats are hopeful and expect the president to be just as aggressive in helping raise resources for Senate Democrats in 2014,” DSCC spokesman Matt Canter said.

But the disastrous rollout of Obamacare is causing heartburn for Democratic incumbents and challengers. Given the nature of the map this cycle — with fewer swing congressional districts and a Senate battleground in Republican-leaning states — the president’s recent dip in approval may not change his schedule all that much.

Still, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is also counting on his help, whether it’s “with fundraising, mobilizing turnout or communicating with voters about how Democrats will focus on creating jobs instead of bitter partisanship,” spokeswoman Emily Bittner said.

In 2006, Bush’s late barnstorming tour took him to the friendly confines of Nebraska, Montana and Missouri — the latter two for senators who ended up being defeated.

According to a Baltimore Sun article just before the elections, Bush’s campaigning was limited to fundraisers until the final weeks, though some of the events were open to the press. He had attended 89 fundraisers and raised $194 million for the party.

The unpopularity of the Iraq War was a drag on Republicans across the country and led in part to a Democratic wave that included winning majorities in the House and Senate. Ethics issues and the response to Hurricane Katrina contributed further to GOP woes.

It was simply a bad year to be a Republican on the ballot, and GOP candidates and committees, including the National Republican Congressional Committee, were wary of inviting Bush outside solid GOP territory.

“The White House was calling the NRCC, calling different campaigns, and offering to do stuff,” recalled one Republican consultant to multiple campaigns that year. “How many different excuses can you make to say no?”

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