Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said vulnerable Senate Democrats should and will invite President Barack Obama to campaign with them this year.
“Anytime the president of the United States appears supporting a candidate, it helps,” Reid said in an interview with CNN set to air at 7 p.m. He noted that Ronald Reagan’s appearances in Nevada in 1986 were unhelpful to his own first election to the Senate.
Asked if he would encourage his most endangered colleagues to invite the president, Reid said, “Yes, and they will.”
Republicans must net six seats to win the Senate majority next year. The vast majority of the most competitive races are for Democrat-held seats, including several in states Obama lost in 2012.
Reid’s comments came one day after Gallup released a list of the 10 states with the lowest approval of the president’s job performance in 2013. Democrats are defending seats in five of them (West Virginia, South Dakota, Montana, Alaska, Arkansas) and hoping to pick up a Republican-held seat in another (Kentucky).
His remarks also came as Senate Democrats actively put distance between themselves and the president on policy. In just the latest example, Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., on Tuesday excoriated the White House for opposing a Senate flood insurance bill that would delay insurance premium increases.
In the short term, the president’s immediate travel plans don’t include any states that are hosting competitive Senate races this year. In two post-State of the Union address trips on Wednesday and Thursday, Obama will travel to Maryland, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Tennessee.
With national approval ratings hovering in the low 40s, Obama’s most vital role this cycle will likely be serving as a chief fundraiser for the party . In 2013, Obama headlined five fundraisers each for the Democrats’ House and Senate campaign arms, plus a couple of joint events, as well as 15 fundraisers for the Democratic National Committee.