POLITICS

Immigration activists repeatedly interrupt president's final midterm campaign appearance

The final campaign swing of the midterm election for President Barack Obama turned out to be a rowdy affair. At a rally in a Bridgeport, Connecticut, high school on Sunday on behalf of incumbent Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy, the president was heckled repeatedly by young Hispanic immigration activists.

Exactly the kind of voter that was at the heart of the coalition that swept Obama into office in 2008 and won him re-election just two years ago.

According to the Washington Times, the protesters were organized by United We Dream, the same pro-immigration reform group, known as Dreamers, last week ambushed Hillary Clinton at a Maryland appearance.

"I am sympathetic to those who are concerned about immigration," Obama said after one interruption. "It's the other party that's blocked it. Unfortunately, folks get frustrated and they want to yell at everybody."

Dreamers have been taking out the frustration they feel about the failure of President Obama and Congress to revamp the immigration system and directing it at Clinton. But on Sunday, they decided to put the pressure on Obama.

“Dreamers will not take any more political delays or excuses,” Maria Praeli, a United We Dream member, told the Times. “Our community expects President Obama to be broad in using his executive authority to provide deportation relief to millions of people from our community, including parents of Dreamers, and we’re here to hold him accountable to his promise.”

Malloy is locked into a neck-and-neck battle with Republican Tom Foley, whom he narrowly defeated four years ago.

Apart from immigration, Obama made a case at the Bridgeport rally that Americans are better off today than when he came into office, and they shouldn't let critics deter them from voting.

"Despite all the cynicism, America is making progress," Obama told the crowd of about 1,900. "Despite unyielding opposition, there are workers who have jobs today that didn't have it before. There are families who have health insurance today that didn't have it before. There are kids going to college today that didn't have the opportunity to go to college before. There are troops in Afghanistan now here with their families because of your vote."

Obama has focused this past week's appearances on candidates for governor in states that he carried in both of his presidential runs. On Saturday, he headlined a rally in Detroit for Senate candidate Gary Peters and Mark Schauer, who's running for governor, and earlier in the week he campaigned in Wisconsin, Maine and Rhode Island.

Though any Democratic losses probably would raise questions about the strength of his popularity even among his biggest fans, Democrats said not campaigning carried bigger downsides.

"There is a bigger risk in not doing everything he can to hold a Senate majority and elect Democratic governors," said Ben LaBolt, national spokesman for Obama's 2012 campaign. "Republicans are likely to say he didn't perform to 2008 and 2012 levels regardless."

Democrats outnumber Republicans in Connecticut, so motivating core voters was essential for Malloy's survival against Foley. First lady Michelle Obama, who campaigned for Malloy on Thursday, called him an "instrumental partner" of the president, and she citied Malloy's success in raising the minimum wage and with the state's roll-out of the federal health law.

Foley got a boost Sunday when conservative candidate Joe Visconti dropped out of the race and threw his support behind the Republican.

In Pennsylvania, Wolf has emerged as the favorite, but Corbett was seizing on Obama's appearance to portray the Democrat as a virtual Obama running mate, hoping that antipathy toward the president would drive more Republican voters to polls.

"Voting for Tom Wolf would be like voting to make Obama Pennsylvania's governor," a new Corbett television ad said.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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