Obama's campaign engagement is not so vastly different from former President George W. Bush in 2006, who focused more of his time, efforts and travel on fundraising rather than rallies with candidates. Strategists in both parties said that is a by-product of weakened poll numbers and the fact that presidents can simply be more helpful drawing in the big bucks than doing a rally to gin up supporters.
National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brian Walsh said that Obama's efforts on the stump last fall and earlier this year for candidates that ultimately lost in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts are evidence of why candidates like Carnahan have "taken great pains" to not appear at events with Obama.
Walsh said that even if Democratic candidates dodge appearances with the president, Republicans pledge to continue hammering away at their ties to the president's agenda.
Democratic Party officials welcome that game plan and think it benefits their candidates.
"As we learn in PA 12 Republican efforts to nationalize the election lose out to a Democratic candidate focused on jobs and middle class," said DSCC spokesman Eric Schultz of the House special election to fill the seat of the late Democratic Rep. John Murtha. Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi factored heavily into the Republicans' strategy to tie the Democratic candidate to the party in Washington.
Democrat Mark Critz won that seat by eight points -- in the only district voted for Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) in 2004 and flipped to Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) in the 2008 presidential election.