As leader of the Democratic Party in the midst of midterm campaign season, President Obama is tasked with hitting the trail for his Democratic brethren. He's done his due diligence on the financial front, but it seems Democratic campaign staple former President Bill Clinton has been tasked with the inspiration part.
That's not to say that President Obama isn't standing alongside struggling candidates. On Monday in Wisconsin, he was gripping and grinning as he pitched Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett as that state's governor. The crowd of around 1,300 paid $250 each to attend and some reports say it cost $10,000 for a photo with the president. Money went to the DNC and the Barrett campaign.
But not all Democrats want to be seen with the commander-in-chief, whose public approval ratings are paltry, at best.
Early this month, President Obama was in Atlanta speaking at a DNC fundraiser, but Georgia's Democratic nominee for governor, Roy Barnes, was nowhere to be found. Barnes, his campaign aides said, was locked in to a previously-scheduled campaign trip.
Republicans see vulnerability.
"Nobody expected the Republicans to be at this point after the huge election of President Obama in 2008," Republican strategist Terry Holt tells Fox News, "but it's been because of [President Obama's] unpopular policies that the American people have become anxious and fearful of the future."
It's not unheard of for Mr. Obama to break the million-dollar mark in a single DNC fundraiser, but his remarks are usually directed at the party faithful.
Meanwhile, his Democratic predecessor, Clinton, draws the rally crowd. Clinton was in Florida Monday, continuing his a campaign blitz on behalf of Congressman Kendrick Meek, who is in a competitive race for the Democratic Senate nomination.
DNC Chairman Tim Kaine tells Fox that the Clinton factor should be embraced, "[W]e're thrilled to have President Clinton so actively engaged in so many races and we're gonna put all our folks on the field this November." But, he adds, "Look, there's nobody right now who energizes Democratic voters like President Obama."
The message President Clinton delivers comes from the Obama playbook. Recently, Clinton told a Scranton, Pennsylvania rally, "We were in a deep hole, a year and a half wasn't enough to dig us out of it." The sentiment echoes that of Mr. Obama, who has found his groove at Democratic fundraisers of late. He has honed an analogy about the Republican party driving the economy into a ditch and now asking for the keys back, much to the delight of his supporters.
However, Terry Holt says there is no denying Obama's low poll numbers have dampened Democrat's hopes, "It's incredible to me that in the midterm this president can't use his most powerful assets to rally his troops for the midterms. In 2002, our strongest asset, Republicans, was President Bush. He was popular, he was an able fundraiser and he was able to go out there and really change the historical outcome of the midterms elections by actually gaining seats in that cycle."
Maintaining a majority is really the point for Democrats, says Kaine. "It's not a matter of who's more popular."