ATLANTA, Georgia - President Obama is carefully treading in 2012 Congressional races, picking and choosing selectively who and what he spends his campaign time doing. On the flip side, candidates are doing just the same.

He has his own re-election and the country to run, so it may not be that surprising that President Obama may be otherwise engaged and not actively stumping for fellow Democrats this year.

As the leader of his party, he also can help raise cash and give a struggling candidate a boost, but on the other hand in purple states or with candidates in tougher election fights, his presence and insertion could be a liability.

Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., in the fight of his political life in a new district after four decades in his seat, faces a real upset in a Democratic primary. He was censured by the House a year and a half ago in the wake of questionable financial and tax moves.

 

 

Rangel was quick to use Obama imagery in his campaigning, but the love wasn't reciprocated.

Obama didn't move a muscle to help him, which may not be surprising given after the censure he suggested it might be time for Rangel to retire with dignity.

"The president has, in primaries, typically supported incumbent Congressional Democrats who are up for reelection and ask for his support. In this case, he has not been asked," a senior campaign official tells Fox News.

The president may give endorsements, but actual events together are a whole other matter.

Monday night in Boston the president made a rare appearance with a Senate Democratic candidate. Elizabeth Warren introduced him at an Obama re-election fundraiser at the Symphony Hall. She's running against incumbent Senator Scott Brown, R-Mass., who shocked the political world by winning Ted Kennedy's seat in an upset over state Attorney General Martha Coakley, who initially led in the polls.

Warren has a closer connection perhaps than most candidates, having worked in the Obama administration in helping form the Consumer Protection Bureau. But she also proved to be a divisive figure and left when it was realized she wouldn't get Congressional approval. Her campaign has faced its own stumbles, with controversy over claims she is partially Cherokee and perhaps used it to claim minority status on job applications.

Obama stood fully behind her Monday saying, "Let you know how lucky all of you are to have a chance to vote for her in the next election."

He touted that she is fighting for the middle class and issues that matter to families adding that "She is going to be an outstanding senator from Massachusetts, and everybody here has got to turn out for her."All House Democrats will be up for re-election, and more than 20 Democratically held Senate seats, which are crucial to keep in order to retain control of that chamber.

Earlier this year it was reported by sources to Politico that the president is not expected to haul in big cash for House and Senate Democrats, perhaps disappointing if not privately angering some of them.

Some incumbents in tough re-election fights like Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, have to play a delicate dance. The St. Louis Beacon reports that she is considering skipping the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte later this year. McCaskill was one of the first senators to back her then colleague, Senator Obama.

The Beacon reports that she missed the state convention a few weeks back because her mother was ill. She bypassed the 2004 DNC when she was in a tough, losing battle in the governor's race, but she did speak at the 2008 one.

Obama narrowly won Missouri in 2008, and she has stood by him, but the coming months will be telling.

Particularly for swing states like Ohio, Florida and Colorado, who chooses to appear or more importantly not to appear with Obama between now and November will catch political attention.

In the 2010 Congressional election cycle, the president raised money for Senators Michael Bennet in Colorado, Barbara Boxer in California, and Harry Reid in Nevada.

Obama is starting to hit the campaign trail hard, holding his 100th fundraiser this week, with his campaign trying to raise cash and fighting off independent groups pouring cash into the campaign.

He regularly says on the trail that he believes his race against presumptive nominee Mitt Romney will be close.