Reid says vulnerable Democrats should not run away from Obama
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid embraced President Barack Obama's standing in an exclusive interview with CNN on Tuesday, stating that he encourages vulnerable Senate Democrats running for re-election in 2014 to invite the President to campaign with them even in states where he is unpopular.
Reid's exclusive comments to CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash come just hours ahead of the President's State of the Union address on Tuesday night and months ahead the 2014 midterm elections, where Democrats will fight to keep the majority in the Senate.
"Barack Obama is personally a very popular guy. And people love this man. They love his family," Reid told Bash. "Of course, with what the Republicans have been doing, trying to denigrate him with what's happened with the rollout of Obamacare, but things, even this week, his numbers are going up again."
"So you would encourage some of your most vulnerable Senate Democratic candidates to invite President Obama to appear with them," Bash asked.
"Yes, and they will," Reid said.
Reid also revealed to Bash that he will travel to the White House next week to meet with the President and Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado -- the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee -- about how to best use the President in 2014.
Among those vulnerable Democrats are Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. Both have made news in the past few months by not appearing with Obama when the President's held an event in their state.
Earlier this month, Hagan did not attend a speech Obama delivered on the economy at North Carolina State University. At the time, a spokesman for Hagan confirmed to CNN that because the "Senate is in session," the Democratic senator would stay in Washington. In November 2013, Landrieu traveled with the President to Louisiana but did not attend a speech he delivered at the Port of New Orleans. Landrieu had other events in the state scheduled that day.
Republicans have seized on those absences as proof that Obama is toxic for vulnerable Democrats in reliably red states.
On Tuesday, Reid rejected that idea.
"Well, Barack Obama, he is a good person to campaign for anybody," Reid said. "The President understands government. But he also understands politics. And that's why he won two elections overwhelmingly, both of which for President of the United States and they said he didn't stand a chance."
Thirty-six seats in the Senate will be up for grabs on Election Day 2014. Although Democrats currently hold 55 seats (including two independents who caucus with them), the party is defending 21 seats in the legislative body, compared to the Republicans, who are defending 15.