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With President Barack Obama out of the country, Vice President Joseph Biden stepped out on the campaign trail over the past two days with stops in Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico to fundraise and rally support for local Democrats. And the Connecticut Democratic Party announced Monday that he will attend a luncheon in support of embattled Sen. Chris Dodd (D) on Dec. 11, signaling a new level of intensity in the vice president’s party-building efforts that have already seen him visit, by his count, 54 House districts this year.

Biden made appearances Sunday and Monday with vulnerable freshman Democratic Reps. Dina Titus (Nev.), Anne Kirkpatrick (Ariz.), Martin Heinrich (N.M.) and Harry Teague (N.M.) as well as sophomore Rep. Harry Mitchell (Ariz.), all of whom face competitive races in states that have been hard hit by the housing crisis and economic recession.

According to a report by the Pew Center on the States released last week, Arizona ranked second and Nevada was sixth among states in the most “fiscal peril— in 2009. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won Kirkpatrick’s, Teague’s and Mitchell’s districts in the 2008 presidential race, while Obama snared Titus’ and Heinrich’s districts.

All five Members voted for the economic stimulus package in February but continue to take heat back home for failing to rein in unemployment and foreclosures.

Biden’s campaigning doubled as a cheerleading opportunity for the stimulus and the administration’s economic agenda. “Only 12 states have gotten more money obligated [than] the state of Arizona has,— he noted in his remarks at the breakfast fundraiser for Mitchell and Kirkpatrick on Monday in Phoenix.

And Biden said he expects the public to reward Democrats’ efforts to turn the economy around in 2010. “I’m absolutely convinced they get it,— he said.

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