Just back from a 26-hour getaway in the Gulf of Mexico, President Obama heads to California this evening for another fundraiser, this time to benefit the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. That sets up a Tuesday fundraising trip to Seattle to help struggling Washington State Sen. Patty Murray -- the president scrubbed a scheduled appearance to pitch healthcare at the National State Insurance Commissioners’ convention.
But today, Obama will be in Wisconsin, where Democrats are facing big problems. And while there is a presidential travel fig leaf in place for the Milwaukee trip with a visit to yet another battery manufacturing plant, the point of the trip seems to be an event with the city’s Democratic mayor, Tom Barrett. Barrett is falling behind in his gubernatorial run against rising Republican star, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker. Walker, a budget slasher who touts his brown-bag lunches and returns part of his salary, leads in the polls and seems to still have the momentum. Walker, by the way, is running an ad that ties Barrett to the Obama stimulus package by way of a controversial rail project.
The question today will be the whereabouts of Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., who finds himself in an unexpectedly tough reelection race against entrepreneur and novice politician Republican Ron Johnson. There’s been no publicly stated plan for Feingold to appear at either the official event or the political rally with Obama. If Feingold were a no show, it would be understandable. Obama still enjoys approval ratings in the mid-50s to low-60s is Washington and California, making the choices for embattled incumbents like Murray or California Sen. Barbara Boxer easier – especially 11 weeks from Election Day. But in Wisconsin, the president is touting an approval rating of 44 percent and the GOP is making gains on other statewide and congressional races.
While the White House touts this campaign swing as an effort to capitalize on the “momentum” of the win of Obama-backed Michael Bennet in Colorado’s Democratic Senate primary, there’s little sign that Obama has got his swing state mojo back, especially given that Bennet himself isn’t even sure if he wants Obama to campaign for him.