ABC News' David Chalian Reports:
The dean of New York's congressional delegation says he was "surprised" to learn that President Obama had decided to directly inject himself into the Democratic primary for one of New York's senate seats.Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, chided Mr. Obama for engaging in "bad public policy" by choosing to delve into Empire State Democratic politics."You know I was really surprised that [the president] got involved in the state race, once you open the door to start making these decisions within the party — I could give him a list of states that I have preferences on and ask him to get involved in. I think it's bad public policy for a president to do that," Rangel told NY1 News' Michael Scotto in an exclusive interview set to air Friday night. President Obama and his political team have been working to clear the primary field for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) who was appointed to replace Hillary Clinton in the US Senate and who is seeking to get elected in her own right to complete the term.Several New York Democrats had been eying the race including Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) who said he decided against entering the fray after a personal appeal from President Obama. Vice President Biden has gotten in on the act too. He recently spoke with Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) in an attempt to convince her to take a pass on the race. Rep. Maloney has not yet made a final decision about what office she intends to seek next year. President Obama is not only focused on New York in his quest to avoid messy intra-party primaries and instead anoint his nominee of choice. In April, President Obama and Vice President Biden welcomed Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) to the White House to offer their endorsement of him the day after he switched from the Republican to the Democratic Party. "You know, if he was to make a general appeal that he didn't think the party should be divided, I see nothing wrong with that. But if you have a half a dozen candidates that indicate they want to run and then you merely go to one and ask them publicly, or at least it's known publicly that you got them to withdraw, I would think that the other candidates, even if they wanted to withdraw, might think that they deserve a call from the President or a meeting with the President," Rangel added.Might President Obama's home state, Illinois, be up next? Many political observers do not expect former Gov. Blagojevich's appointee, Sen. Roland Burris, to run next year under the weight of all that Blago baggage. If indeed Burris opts out, all eyes will be on the President Obama to see if he will attempt to hand pick his successor in that Senate seat.