Monday, January 22, 2018
News Roundup

President Barack Obama stumps for Hillary Clinton in Orlando

ORLANDO — President Barack Obama had a warning Friday for Democrats in battleground Florida who may be slightly too confident that Hillary Clinton will win the election: Even if she does, it's not enough.

As he paid his second visit to Florida in as many weeks, Obama rattled through a list of fellow Democrats he pleaded with voters to support: Rep. Patrick Murphy, the Senate candidate, and House candidates Stephanie Murphy and Charlie Crist, to name a few.

"It's not enough just to elect her and then have a Republican Congress that is already talking about not being willing to cooperate with her on anything," Obama told a crowd of 9,000 whose screams reached rock-concert volumes. "What we're going to see is more gridlock and more obstruction and more threats to shut down the government."

It took eight years, but Democrats have finally gotten the enthusiastic cheerleader for the Democratic Party they say they've wanted. Gone is the old Obama, who approached campaigning for other Democrats as a chore. The new Obama is throwing himself into rebuilding his party in his final months in the White House and vowing to keep at it once he's left.

With his popularity higher than it's been in years, Obama has been campaigning for Hillary Clinton with gusto, and White House officials said he'll be traveling to help the Democrat nearly every day until Election Day.

And he's putting a similar emphasis on the party's other candidates, cutting nearly two dozen TV and radio ads for House and Senate candidates and holding a similar number of fundraisers.

So as Obama campaigned for Clinton in Orlando, Democrats were also using the visit to boost Democrats in two Orlando-area state House races and one state Senate race that they see as pivotal toward retaking control of Florida's Legislature by 2020. Like most states, Florida gives the power to redraw its maps to state lawmakers.

David Simas, the White House political director, called the 150 state legislative races where Obama is endorsing candidates this year a "preview of coming attractions."

"It's clear these races are going to become much, much more important," Simas said. "As a reaction to that reality, he's been very clear with us, not only this year, to expect this is something he's going to take a personal interest in."

Obama's bid to restore balance in redistricting speaks to the biggest obstacle of his presidency, and one he was never able to fully overcome: a Congress occupied largely by politicians from districts that lean so heavily Republican or Democratic that they have little incentive to compromise with the other side.

In a packed university arena in Orlando, Obama urged his supporters to "vote up and down the ticket" for Democrats, and he took particular aim at Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Miami. Obama mocked the Republican for lacking the courage to sufficiently rebuke Donald Trump and took a few jabs at Trump himself.

"We shouldn't let our kids think that politics is about pitching a new hotel or a new golf course or a TV contract," Obama said.

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