Today's Power Play: Are Democrats Finding Busy Work For Obama?

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Power Play remembers in the salad days of the Obama administration how the president's travel so often took him to traditionally red states that had flipped for him in 2008.

One could scarcely turn around without seeing Obama at a plant in Indiana, a construction site in Virginia, a campus in North Carolina, a town hall in Ohio or a tech center in Colorado.

It is instructive, then, to note that on the homestretch political schedule for the president - major events between now and Oct. 25 - only two of the ten stops will be in states that went from red to blue in 2008.

Those two, Ohio and Nevada, have some special circumstances.

In Ohio, Obama will be escorted by his wife as he appears at two fundraisers and a campus rally. It is telling that only one of the events - a closed-door fundraiser - is being billed as a benefit for embattled Gov. Ted Strickland. The other two stops are under the auspices of the Democratic National Committee.

A skeptical Buckeye State Democrat tells Power Play that Obama's Ohio visit is as much about laying the groundwork for the president's reelection campaign as anything else.

The latest FOX News battleground state poll showed Obama with a 33 percent approval rating in Ohio.

"I don't see it helping much this year," said the Ohio Democrat.

In Nevada, Obama is going to try to boost the stalled reelection campaign of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Reid and Obama are both carrying job approval ratings in the state of about 40 percent and Obama is better liked by Silver State Democrats than Reid is.

The goal there is to keep his promise to Reid by firing up the Democratic base in a bitter election that might see many Democrats stay on the sideline.

But look at the rest of the itinerary: Delaware, Massachusetts, Oregon, California, Minnesota and Rhode Island.

Rhode Island? Republicans seem to be far out of contention on any big races in Little Rhoady. And with the president heading to Boston the week before, the local media market should be fairly well saturated.

And Obama has to go to Boston because his fellow David Axelrod client Gov. Deval Patrick remains in serious jeopardy. The president can't have the proto-Obama booted out after his first term.

Power Play suspects that part of the reason for Obama's blue state schedule is the shrinking Democratic firewall. Obama needs to devote resources to places like Washington, Oregon and California where his approval ratings are closer to 50 than 30 and Democratic voters will get jazzed. It's a kind of admission that Democrats in places like Colorado, North Carolina and Indiana are on their own,

But, as one Republican veteran of the brutal 2006 cycle, points out, the schedule also represents "busy work."

In 2006, when Bush was unpopular, Republicans looked for ways to show him on the campaign trail and actively involved. But the problem was, there were few states where candidates wanted him or that he could help. That meant trips to deep red states like Alabama, not swing states up north.

It got Bush out of the White House and avoided the narrative (mostly) of the president hiding out.

"He's got to be out there doing something," the Republican said of Obama. "He can't help many places, so they're just think of places he can go and do the least harm."

Whatever the case, Power Play suggests that when a Democratic president is heading to Rhode Island the week before a referendum midterm election, strange days are here.

Thanks to today's Power Play team: Kimberly Schwandt, April Girouard, Varuna Bhatia, Heidi Noonan, Bree Tracey and Molly Mathews

Send tips and feedback to PowerPLAY@FOXNEWS.COM


The Day in Quotes

"This election is more important than the one where you elected us. We have finally turned this supertanker around, and it is headed home to port."

-- Vice President Joe Biden, speaking at a campaign rally for Rep. Leonard Boswell in Des Moines, Iowa.

"[Bill] Clinton is all too happy to show Obama how it's done."

-- Howard Fineman, a columnist for the Huffington Post, after spending the day on the campaign trail with the former president.

"If the DCCC pulling ads is the price of independence and following my conscience, so be it. That's the kind of congressman I'll be."

-- Roy Herron, a Democrat running to replace retiring Rep. John Tanner (D-TN), in a statement claiming that it was his refusal to support Nancy Pelosi for speaker, not his fading hopes of victory, that prompted the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to cut off funds for his race.

"I've heard my constituents, and they don't want a liberal running the House. They want a conservative."

-- Rep. Bobby Bright (D-AL) in a new ad heralding his decision to not vote for Nancy Pelosi for House Speaker again.

"We'll see. We'll see what happens when the election's over and we'll look at the leadership."

-- Rep. Scott Murphy (D-NY) when asked by the Albany Times-Union about whether he would support Nancy Pelosi for another terms as speaker of the House.

"I think that the administration is going to be interested in that because I think this issue is going to be toxic in 2012 unless states can demonstrate that this isn't about spending more money."

-- John Kizhaber, Democratic candidate for governor of Oregon, discussing on CNN the need for state exemptions to Obamacare.

"I am neither perfect, nor a career politician. I have made mistakes in this campaign."

-- Carl Paladino, Republican candidate for New York governor, in an email to supporters expressing regret for remarks about children being "brainwashed into thinking homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option."

"When it comes to inflicting ‘Collateral Damage' on the economy, Charlie Crist and Arnold Schwarzenegger are definitely ‘Twins.' Charlie's flip-flops have made him a master at telling ‘True Lies.' We all know the only thing Charlie cares about is the next election. But this year, Florida will take an ‘Eraser' to ‘The Running Man.'"

-- Marco Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos response to the endorsement by California Republican Schwarzenegger of Crist in for Senate in Florida.

"I think that the administration is going to be interested in that because I think this issue is going to be toxic in 2012 unless states can demonstrate that this isn't about spending more money."

-- John Kizhaber, Democratic candidate for governor of Oregon, discussing on CNN the need for state exemptions to Obamacare.

"People can talk about sizzle all they want, I'd say hey, ‘look at the results.' Judge me by what we got done, what we stood for, not what we flapped our jaw about, not what we went out and gave speeches about..."

- Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) to FOX News colleague Bret Baier in an interview for an upcoming series on the 2012 presidential election.

"The tactic of painting women, successful politicians, as a whore -- and I also can't believe I'm using that word on your program -- it's nothing new. Ask Sarah Palin, ask Meg Whitman, Nikki Haley, Christine O'Donnell. Lots of women face the same thing."

-- Democratic House candidate Krystal Ball on "Happening Now with Megyn Kelly" discussing suggestive pictures of posted online of Ball by a blogger.

"I was always very much attracted to the idea that the individual matters, not the group."

-- Condoleezza Rice on "The O'Reilly Factor."

"If I were a good lawyer, I would rest my case,"

- Rep. John M. Spratt (D-SC) to the New York Times about being in a close reelection race at age 67.

Follow the Money - Crossroads, GOP Allies Team Up for $50 M House Ad Blitz

If President Obama didn't like what Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie were doing before, wait until he gets a load of this:Three groups backing GOP candidates are planning to team up for a $50 million late campaign-spending blitz aimed at races where Republican challengers are financially overmatched by Democratic incumbents.

The players are American Crossroads, the much-discussed group affiliated with Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, the American Action Network, run by former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota, and the Commission on Hope, Growth and Opportunity, led by Republican campaign consultant Scott Reed.

As the Wall Street Journal reported: "In the 40 races deemed toss-ups by the Cook Political Report, a political handicapper, Democratic candidates had a combined $39.3 million of cash on hand as of June 30, the most-recent filing deadline. Republican candidates had $16.5 million in the bank."

The goal, a strategist from one of the participating groups told Power Play, is to "concentrate our firepower so these guys don't get outgunned."

Fight Nights - Ugly Fights in Calif. and Conn.

Brown Stumbles on "Whore" Questions

Meg Whitman seemed to have the upper hand in her final debate with Jerry Brown in the contentious race for California governor.

Brown spent a lot of time on the defensive over the fact that someone on his campaign team called Whitman "a whore" in his presence in a conversation unwittingly recorded by Brown.

Brown got an earful from the audience at Dominican University in San Rafael when he tried to play down the remark and disagreed with moderator Tom Brokaw that the term is to women as "the N-Word" is to blacks.

Brown then changed course and apologized to Whitman, who didn't seem to quite accept it.

Brown, though, continued to look for ways to mitigate the problem, instead of just taking his licking and moving on.

He tried to flip the script on Whitman, asking if she had rebuked her campaign chairman, former Gov. Pete Wilson, for having called the members of Congress "whores to public employee unions" in 1995.

That was probably a step too far.

"You know better than that, Jerry; that is a completely different thing," she shot back. "The fact that you are defending your campaign for a slur and a personal attack on me - it's not befitting of California, it's not befitting of the office that you are running for."

Brown again apologized, but qualified his contrition saying that the remark "does not represent anything other than things that happen in campaigns."

In the previous debate, it was Whitman who was on defense over her former housekeeper's claims that the former eBay CEO knew she was in the country illegally. But in that contest, technical difficulties with instant translation from an already awkward Spanish-language format shielded Whitman.

Brown got no such help on the "whore" controversy.

Beyond that, the two sparred on job creation (Whitman said Brown had been part of a "40-year war on jobs) and taxes (Brown suggested Whitman wanted to reduce capital gains taxes to enrich herself).

But on the matter of the moment, Brown, who is counting on women voters to lift him on Election Day, came up short.

Blumenthal Goes All in on Wrestling

Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal brought a single-minded focus on Republican Linda McMahon's past in professional wrestling to the final debate in the race to replace retiring Sen. Chris Dodd.

The fight, hosted by the New London Day newspaper, was mostly given over to character attacks, with Blumenthal honing in on McMahon's weak spot with voters, the violent, sexed-up offerings of World Wrestling Entertainment, which she built and led with her husband, Vince.

McMahon countered the barrage with one line about Blumenthal's claims of having served in Vietnam despite a stateside posting in the reserves. When Blumenthal said that the voters "know him," McMahon countered by saying that "The people of Connecticut know you. What they know now is you have great difficulty in telling the truth."

McMahon, mostly though, made unsuccessful attempts to steer the conversation away from wrestling and onto jobs and the economy.

Blumenthal leads this week's FOX News battleground state poll by 6 points, down from 10 points last week.

Trail Riders - Biden's New Chamber Line; Michelle, Their Belle; Krauthammer on Bogeymen

Biden Shifts Chamber Attack

Vice President Biden has shifted his argument on Chamber of Commerce political activities.

While speaking on behalf of Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-IA), Biden seemed to acknowledge Chamber responses to his past claims that the group may use foreign money for political activities.

On Tuesday, Biden said that though the Chamber may keep the nominal dues paid by foreign companies separate from political funds, the foreign dues still "frees up money to spend on political campaigns."

Poll Check

AP/Ipsos: Wisconsin Senate - Johnson (R) 51, Feingold (D)) 44

Rasmussen: Ohio Senate: Portman (R) 57, Fisher (D) 34

Rasmussen: Illinois Senate -- Kirk (R) 45, Giannoulias (D) 41Rasmussen: New Hampshire Governor -- Lynch (D) 53, Stephen (R) 43

(Mrs.) Obama's Day

President Obama and Vice President Biden are yielding the campaign trail to first lady Michelle Obama today. The president will appear in public to herald the extension of a tax credit for college tuition payments, but nothing earth shaking.

The first lady starts with an afternoon fundraiser for embattled Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) in Milwaukee.

In the evening, it's back to her hometown of Chicago. She'll be the star at fundraiser for the campaign of Alexi Giannoulias, the Democratic nominee for her husband's former Senate seat. Giannoulias' Sunday "Meet the Press" debate with Republican Mark Kirk is widely viewed as a setback because he struggled with questions' about his family's now-failed bank and loans to convicted mobsters.

At night, the first lady will attend a fundraiser for two Illinois incumbents, Reps. Debbie Halvorson and Bill Foster, and Dan Seals, the Democrat running for Kirk's former House seat.

Bubba Stumps - Clinton, Md.

Former President Bill Clinton will be in Baltimore on October 21st for a rally with Gov Martin O'Malley.

And Now, A Word From Charles

"It won't work. Apart from the fact this is a perfect example of the paranoid style of American politics, in an old liberal phrase, it is not going to work. The administration understands it doesn't have an argument on healthcare or other stuff so looking for bogeyman, for a nemesis. It started out and tried to use George Bush as a nemesis. But, unfortunately, if you're a Democrat, Bush's approval is about equal to Obama's, so that's not working.Then they tried attacks on John Boehner, which didn't work, because most Americans have never heard of him, and, because it's hard to demonize a guy who sports such a splendid tan. So what they have done instead is try to go back to the old stuff. They tried attacking Wall Street and make the bogeyman BP, and they tried, of course, FOX News. It hasn't worked so now they return to Chamber of Commerce."

-- Charles Krauthammer on "Special Report with Bret Baier" discussing Obama administration attacks on opponents' political spending.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C.