More Democrats say they’re skipping the convention
It’s been an interesting several days for Democrats. Last week began an avalanche of elected officials declaring that they would not attend the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
A few West Virginia Democrats — Sen. Joe Manchin, Rep. Nick Rahall, and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin — recently kicked off the trend. Pennsylvania Rep. Mark Critz joined just a few days later. New York Reps. Bill Owens and Kathy Hochul joined the crowd the following day. And yesterday, three more joined Georgia Rep. John Barrow, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, and Montana Sen. Jon Tester announced that they would not attend the Democratic National Convention. Heidi Heitkamp, a Senate hopeful from North Dakota, also says she won’t be making the trip to Charlotte.
Nearly all of these Democrats are facing tough election battles this fall, and are no doubt trying to avoid being associated with Barack Obama, who will be renominated the the convention. That’s understandable from a political perspective. However, in the case of Sen. McCaskill, it’s rather humorous. Just four years ago, she was deemed to be the “most reliable surrogate” for then-candidate Obama’s campaign:
McCaskill was at first-lady-in-waiting Michelle Obama’s side at the second presidential debate. Behind the scenes, McCaskill conferred from time to time with the campaign brain trust, offered advice when asked and shared occasional e-mails with the candidate about how things were going.
She downplayed any special inner-circle status — “these guys didn’t need my advice” — but any list of Obama insiders who are said to have the ear of the president-elect has to include the freshman Democratic senator from Missouri.
“She was probably the most reliable surrogate, even in contentious settings like going on Fox News, even in times when the narrative wasn’t even great, like the Reverend Wright turmoil,” said Josh Earnest, an Obama campaign spokesman.
My how things have changed. Again, it’s not a surprise, especially given that ger three potential Republican challengers have leads in head-to-head matchups.
But it’s not just prominent elected officials running from the convention that have Democrats concerned. It appears that the convention itself if on shaky ground. They’ve shortened the convention from four days to three and moved the kickoff from Charlotte Motor Speedway to business district of the city. This has prompted questions as to whether the Democratic National Committee is having funding issues for the convention, though the party is denying that.
There have been questions surrounding the wisdom of holding the convention in North Carolina, a state that Obama won in 2008, for some time. While Obama is managing to stay within distance of Mitt Romney in the state, his approval rating is at 50%, according Public Policy Polling, and 54%, according to Rasmussen.