This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," October 25, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
PAUL GIGOT, HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," with midterms just over a week away, a look at what could make or break Republican hopes for a wave election. Vulnerable Democrats are running away from an unpopular president, but can the GOP bank on an Obama backlash?
And they're being called the Democrats' secret weapon. Can the Clintons, Bill and Hillary, save the day for some struggling candidates?
And from new Ebola concerns to lone-wolf terror threats, national security is taking center stage in some key races. Will it help Republicans, come Election Day?
Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.
Well, they can run, but President Obama isn't letting them hide. With just over a week to go until Election Day, vulnerable Democrats are still trying to distance themselves from the unpopular president and his policies. A task Mr. Obama made more difficult this week when he told the Reverend Al Sharpton in a radio interview that these candidates are all his allies in Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA(voice-over): The bottom line is though these are all folks who vote with me. They have supported my agenda in Congress. So, yeah, this isn't about my feelings being hurt. These are folks who are strong allies and supporters of me. And, you know, I tell them, I said, you know what you do what you need to win. I will be responsible for making sure that our voters turn out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: Joining the panel this week, Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; Washington columnist, Kim Strassel; and Political Diary editor, Jason Riley, author of the new book "Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed."
So, Jason, is President Obama the single biggest liability for Democrats this election year?
JASON RILEY, POLITICAL DIARY EDITOR: In some ways, he's a liability. But it depends on the race. I mean, the reason President Obama's on Al Sharpton's show is because the Democratic Party has a problem with getting out black voters because he's not on the ticket. So if you're in Georgia and you're trying to distance yourself from Obama, but you need black voters to come out to the polls, you've got a dilemma. And that's what the Democratic Senate candidate down there has. In other parts of the country, however, if you're in New Hampshire and trying to do the same thing, the black vote is less important there. So distancing yourself from President Obama might be working for you. So it depends on the race. But Obama is trying to give cover to these Democrats so that they can do what they think they need to do in their individual races.
GIGOT: Yeah, but is he helping them by saying, look, to everybody -- I know he did it on Sharpton's show, but it's now been broadcast everywhere, including on this program that, hey, these guys are my allies. They voted for me, my program. That doesn't help them, does it?
GIGOT: -- in Arkansas?
RILEY: Well, it might help in Arkansas.
RILEY: It depends. It depends. Again, to the extent that you need the black voters out to win, it's going to help. That's what he's trying to do. He has to get that base out. It's a midterm election. Black voters typically skip midterm elections. If they skip this one, Democrats are in trouble. He's figuring there are people I've lost, I've lost them. Let's get people out to the polls who normally would not come out for a midterm election.
GIGOT: You agree with that, Dan?
DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: Well, I think that the Democrats and Barack Obama is trying to draw to an inside straight. The deck is stacked against them. He actually told a black radio talk show host earlier this week that some of these folks don't even know there's a midterm election. The Democrats said privately did not ask him to go on Al Sharpton and make this statement about how tight he was with all these candidates. The Associated Press poll came out this week and the level of, quote, "enthusiasm for the president" is 9 percent. So I think it is the president and it is his policies and there's a reason they're trying to run away from him.
GIGOT: Kim, Donna Brazile, who -- a Democratic partisan, good strategist -- she recently said she thought Democrats who run away from the president are making a mistake for precisely the reason Jason suggested. Because they're going to need that black turnout, that base turnout, single women and so on to win. So don't run away from the president, embrace him. Smart strategy?
KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: No, not. Look, I'm going to be a lot more aggressive on this. The single biggest problem Democrats have right now is Barack Obama.
Here's another way to look at all the Senate races that are out there. OK? Every race in which a Republican is winning or has momentum, looks poised, that is a race that's been nationalized. It's a race that's about Barack Obama and it's a race about how those candidates have supported his policies. And those are where Republicans are winning. The few races where the Republicans are still having a bit of trouble are the ones, for instance, like Georgia or Kansas, where the main issue has remained the Republican in the race. So in Georgia, for instance, David Perdue made some outsourcing comments.
GIGOT: Right. And that's hurt him.
STRASSEL: And in Kansas, it's the question of Pat Roberts and his residency in the state. When these races get nationalized, the president is simply so unpopular, the Democrats are in trouble.
GIGOT: Let's take a look at an ad in one of the races where we'll show how Republicans are trying to nationalize the race around Barack Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: The war on coal, ObamaCare, $700 billion of Medicare cuts. Nick Rahall voted with Barack Obama for all of it. Now Obama says --
OBAMA: I'm not on the ballot at this fall. But make no mistake, these policies are on the ballot, every single one of them.
ANNOUNCER: A vote for Nick Rayhall is a vote for the Obama agenda.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: Jason, that's a West Virginia Congressman. Do you think that's an effective ad?
I think it's very effective, because Obama, heretofore, has always been more popular than his policies. And now --
GIGOT: Personally, you mean?
RILEY: Right. His personal likeability rating has always been higher. But that's been falling of late. Now they're not too far apart. So for him to talk about his policies this way, I think it has Democratic strategists cringing, frankly.
HENNINGER: Well, his approval nationally is at 40 percent. Usually, when it's around 45 percent, a party gets really nervous. In a lot of these red states, he's well below 40 percent, sometimes below 35 percent in places like Arkansas. So I think the Democrats are extremely nervous. Worse, their base is depressed. They're back on their heels. And unless they can produce turnout, they simply have no chance.
GIGOT: You know, this reminds me of what happened to Republicans in 2006 with George W. Bush. They just -- they couldn't win. And they had no choice but to run away from him. But when they did, it didn't help them all that much.