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POLITICS: White House

Weeks after inauguration, President Obama plans mid-term fundraising blitz

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Politics,White House,Brian Hughes,Campaign 2012,Politics Digest

Less than three weeks removed from his inaugural address, President Obama is already eyeing mid-term elections critical to the fate of his progressive, second-term agenda, agreeing to raise cash for Democrats at more than a dozen events this year.

White House officials said Thursday that Obama would hold at least 14 fundraisers for Democratic congressional candidates in 2013, hitting the trail during what critics are describing as a permanent campaign season.

According to Democrats with knowledge of the arrangement, Obama will take part in 10 events across the country, split evenly between those sponsored by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The other four events will be held in Washington.

With his last election behind him, Obama is banking that the fundraising prowess that propelled him in two successful presidential campaigns will aid Democrats in close races.

The president was particularly bullish about the prospects for House Democrats, predicting on Thursday they would take back the lower chamber from Republicans.

"As a byproduct of doing that good work and keeping that focus, I would expect that Nancy Pelosi is going to be speaker again pretty soon," Obama said at a Virginia retreat for Democratic representatives.

However, mid-term elections are traditionally a struggle for incumbent presidents and their party -- as proved the case for Obama and Democrats in the 2010 elections. Even some members of the president's party were not convinced that Obama's heightened role on the campaign trail would usher in a wave of political successes for down-ballot candidates.

"It depends on what is going on nationally," Democratic strategist Keir Murray said. "In 2010, he was an anvil around the neck of congressional Democrats. I'm skeptical Democrats can retake the House. Redistricting has made that quite a challenge."

During his re-election bid, Republicans accused the president of being more interested in campaigning than governing -- and his early, aggressive fundraising schedule, they contend, proves the president is intensely focused on breaking the will of the GOP.

"The campaigner-in-chief is back," quipped a Republican official who worked on Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. "He's certainly proven that he knows how to raise money. It would sure be nice if he could achieve that level of success with his day job."

Despite Obama's prodigious fundraising schedule, congressional Democrats and the president have bickered about his role -- or lack thereof -- in re-electing Democrats.

"There's a pretty common complaint among Democratic strategists that Obama hasn't done a lot to help down-ballot candidates," said Nathan Gonzales, deputy editor of the Rothenberg Political Report. "That's why I was surprised to see so many events this early."

Analysts said Obama would be dispatched to areas where he can raise the most money and draw the largest crowds, avoiding pockets where his presence would be a detriment to the Democratic candidate.

Democrats are also looking to expand their membership in the Senate. However, a handful of Democratic senators in red-leaning states are up for re-election and will be heavily targeted by Republicans.

Ahead of those fundraisers, Obama will continue his campaign-style push for gun control, immigration reform and higher taxes on large corporations. Congressional Democrats -- for better or worse -- will be inextricably linked to the White House.

"These Democrats," Gonzales said, "are going to be the ones answering for Obama's policies."

bhughes@washingtonexaminer.com

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Brian Hughes

White House Correspondent
The Washington Examiner