President Obama traveled to St. Louis, MO Wednesday, to talk about health care and raise money for democratic candidates. The only problem? The candidate who stands to benefit the most from the Presidential visit wasn’t even in St. Louis, or the state of Missouri. She’s in Washington.
Robin Carnahan, daughter of the late Governor Mel Carnahan who died in a plane crash during his run for Senate in 2000, is running for the Senate seat being vacated by Senator Kit Bond (R) this year, and even though the President is speaking at an event that raises money for Senate candidates, Carnahan will not be appearing. The White House is downplaying the fact that Carnahan is not in Missouri while Obama is, saying the trip to Washington was planned for Carnahan before the President’s visit was announced and a senior administration official says the two sides are looking for a future date for the two to appear together.
But Carnahan has had her differences with the Obama administration. She called his proposed budget disappointing and said it was “time Washington started making fiscal discipline and tackling the long term budget deficit higher priorities.” And though Carnahan has said she supports the Senate passed health care bill, her campaign spokesman is quoted as saying the current gridlock is “another example of how Washington is broken.” Republicans, meanwhile, say Carnahan is the victim of a White House snub. The Executive Director of the Missouri Republican Party, Lloyd Smith, says the White House has “written off the Carnahan campaign.” Recent polls indicate Carnahan’s lead over Missouri Republican Congressman Roy Blunt has been fading, though state Democrats say the race will be close into the Fall.
It’s not lost on political pundits that Carnahan isn’t appearing with the President, as his track record for getting people elected is not nearly as solid as previous presidents. In 2009, Obama appeared in New Jersey for incumbent Governor Jon Corzine, in Virginia for Gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds, and in the most high stakes race, in Massachusetts for Martha Coakley, who was running to replace Edward Kennedy. All three candidates lost. The only democratic winner in 2009 was Bill Owens in the 23rd Congressional District in New York, who never appeared on camera with the President, although he was present at a fundraiser in New York City.
And even without appearing with the President, Carnahan stands to gain. The two fundraisers being held in St. Louis will raise money for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, funds of which will go to Carnanhan’s 2010 campaign, and also eventually to the 2012 campaign for Senator Claire McCaskill (D).