(Corrects paragraph 8 to "stay in the Senate" instead of "stay
in the saddle")
By Roberta Rampton
MCLEAN, Va., March 4 Democrats need to wake up
and understand the stakes involved in holding on to control of
the U.S. Senate in the November congressional elections,
President Barack Obama told Democratic Party donors at a
fundraiser on Tuesday.
"Something about midterms - I don't know what it is about
us. We get a little sleepy. We get a little distracted. We don't
turn out the vote. We don't fund campaigns as passionately,"
"That has to change and it's got to change right here
because too much is at stake for us to let this opportunity slip
by," he said.
Obama was speaking to a group of more than 40 donors who
paid $10,000 to $32,400 a ticket to attend a Democratic
Senatorial Campaign Committee event at the home of former
Senator Chuck Robb and his wife, Lynda Bird Johnson Robb.
It is one of 30 fundraisers the president plans to headline
through June. He will attend two more on Wednesday in Boston.
Obama said he planned to devote time and energy to working
for Democratic candidates because advancing issues ranging from
the environment to women's health issues depend on keeping
control of the Senate.
"What I want to do is just emphasize the degree to which
everything you all care about, advancing every issue that is of
deep concern to you, depends on us successfully maintaining a
Democratically controlled Senate," he said.
"You better hope Democrats stay in the Senate."
A third of the 100-member Senate is up for grabs in November
elections as well as all 435 seats in the Republican-controlled
House of Representatives.
Republicans believe they have a good chance to pick up the
six seats they need to take control of the Senate based on
public dissatisfaction with Obama. Democrats are in a tight
spot, forced to defend 21 seats to only 14 for Republicans.
That has prompted the White House this year to promote
populist measures such as raising the minimum wage, extending
unemployment insurance benefits and investing in preschool
In the 2010 midterms, Republicans took control of the House
after what Obama called a "shellacking" from voters frustrated
with the economy.
"We paid a dear price for not paying enough attention,"
Obama told donors on Tuesday, recalling the 2010 losses.
(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Peter Cooney)