February 28, 2014 / 3:00 PM / 4 years ago

Obama to preach unity to Democrats at winter meeting

By Steve Holland
    WASHINGTON, Feb 28 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on
Friday will lay out his approach to electing fellow Democrats in
congressional campaigns this year as his party tries to overcome
stiff headwinds brought about at least in part due to his
signature healthcare law.
    The president will address the winter meeting of the
Democratic National Committee with the aim of maintaining a
spirit of unity among party activists. Democrats are trying to
face down emboldened Republicans who see a chance of capturing
the Senate and building on their majority in the House of
    All 435 members of the House and a third of the 100-member
Senate are up for grabs in November elections.
    Obama will make the case that there are still items on his
agenda that he would like to see approved in an election year.
Immigration reform stands out as one top item the president
would like despite tough odds.
    But he will also use his drive early this year to promote
policies to create jobs for the middle class as an election-year
appeal for voters to support Democrats. He will argue that
Democrats stand for "opportunity for all" versus Republicans who
stand for wealthier people, a White House aide said.
    "Congressional Republicans want to cut education, restore
free rein to the powerful interests in Washington, and give more
tax breaks to those at the very top -- because they believe
prosperity will trickle down to everyone else. But we know that
doesn't work," the aide said.
    Obama faces a difficult challenge. The party that controls
the White House in these so-called "midterm" elections typically
loses seats in Congress. 
    A warning sign for Democrats is his overall approval rating,
43 percent, according to an average of recent polls by the Real
Clear Politics website. His popularity has suffered as a result
of the disastrous rollout of his healthcare law in October.
    While the president is expected to travel widely this year
on behalf of his party, the White House acknowledges that Obama
will steer clear of Republican-leaning states where his presence
would not help.
    "The president's political goal is to win as many seats up
and down the ballot as possible. We recognize it doesn't make
sense to have a sitting Democratic president campaign in some of
these redder states," the White House aide said.
   The White House approach is not "where can we campaign" but
instead is "how can we help," the aide said.
    Twice elected president with overwhelming financial support,
Obama will engage in a sweeping effort to raise money for
Democratic candidates.
     He plans to headline 30 fundraisers through June, 18 of the
DNC and 12 for party money-raising arms for House, Senate and
gubernatorial candidates, the aide said.
    In addition, Obama will commit to attending events for House
and Senate Super PAC, an organization that pools campaign
donations and uses the money to campaign for or against a
    Obama has spent much of the early part of this year pushing
for action in areas to help the middle class, such as raising
the minimum wage. This has the effect of creating a narrative
for Democrats to run on.

 (Reporting By Steve Holland;editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)
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