Obama to young vot­ers: ‘Change is al­ways hard’

The pres­i­dent be­gins a cam­paign swing in an ef­fort to in­vig­o­rate Democrats.

Los Angeles Times - - The Nation - Michael A. Me­moli re­port­ing from washington Peter Ni­cholas re­port­ing from al­bu­querque michael.me­moli@latimes.com peter.ni­cholas @latimes.com

Pres­i­dent Obama on Mon­day be­gan a high-stakes ef­fort to reen­er­gize Democrats be­fore the midterm elec­tion, be­gin­ning with a trip that White House strate­gists hope will sum­mon im­ages from his 2008 vic­tory.

Obama will speak Tues­day at a rally in Madi­son, Wis., where he drew a ca­pac­ity crowd of 17,000 two years ago. Democrats have been work­ing hard to turn out sup­port­ers in the lib­eral city, es­pe­cially the first-time and col­lege-age vot­ers who were cen­tral to the 2008 ef­fort. Demo­cratic an­a­lysts fear young adults are go­ing to sit out the elec­tion.

To help spur them, Obama spoke to col­lege jour­nal­ists on a con­fer­ence call Mon­day, say­ing he wanted to re­mind young vot­ers that “change is al­ways hard.”

“You can’t sit it out,” he added. “You can’t sud­denly just check in once ev­ery 10 years or so, on an ex­cit­ing pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, and then not pay at­ten­tion dur­ing big midterm elec­tions where we’ve got a real big choice be­tween Democrats and Repub­li­cans.”

Repub­li­cans say Obama’s visit will only fur­ther gal­va­nize their sup­port­ers. Reince Priebus, chair­man of the Wis­con­sin Repub­li­can Party, said the en­thu­si­asm gap be­tween Democrats and Repub­li­cans in the Badger State is the widest in the coun­try.

“So part of their strat­egy here is to try to wake up the liv­ing dead in Madi­son, but it’s not go­ing to hap­pen be­cause peo­ple are alive and they’re think­ing straight, and they know that Obama’s poli­cies are bad for this coun­try,” he said in an in­ter­view.

Wis­con­sin has emerged as a lead­ing bell­wether for Democrats, with bat­tles for gover­nor and Se­nate. Tom Bar­rett, the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee for gover­nor, will join Obama in Madi­son.

But Sen. Rus­sell D. Fein­gold (D-Wis.) will be ab­sent, as he was when Obama came to the state on La­bor Day. Fein­gold is stay­ing in Washington, where the Se­nate on Tues­day faces an­other in a se­ries of show­down votes, this one on a Demo­cratic bill to of­fer pay­roll tax breaks.

Polls show Fein­gold as among the most en­dan­gered of Se­nate Democrats, trail­ing busi­ness­man Ron John­son by at least 6 per­cent­age points.

Obama will hold three more “Mov­ing Amer­ica For­ward” ral­lies — in Penn­syl­va­nia, Ohio and Ne­vada — in com­ing weeks. He also plans a tele­cast town hall meet­ing Oct. 12.

Dur­ing this week’s trip, Obama will make a more per­sonal ap­peal by meet­ing with fam­i­lies in Al­bu­querque, Des Moines and Rich­mond, Va.

The itin­er­ary speaks to the po­lit­i­cal chal­lenges Democrats face this fall. In New Mex­ico, two Demo­cratic law­mak­ers face tough re­elec­tion chal­lenges, and the party is bat­tling to hold the gov­er­nor­ship.

In Iowa, Gov. Chet Cul­ver trails a Repub­li­can op­po­nent by dou­ble dig­its in his bid for a sec­ond term. Two of the GOP’s lead­ing con­gres­sional tar­gets are in Vir­ginia, though Obama’s event there is in nei­ther district.

Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den, Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee Chair­man Tim Kaine and sev­eral Cabi­net sec­re­taries will hold events Tues­day in Penn­syl­va­nia, Delaware, Cal­i­for­nia, Mary­land and North Carolina.

Brief­ing re­porters Mon­day, a se­nior White House aide said the trip was a con­tin­u­a­tion of the small meet­ings Obama has been hav­ing with fam­i­lies hit by the re­ces­sion. But there will be a clear par­ti­san mes­sage as well.

“Let’s be clear: If you like deficits, you will love the Repub­li­can plan,” said Dan Pfeif­fer, White House com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor, point­ing to GOP pro­pos­als to ex­tend Ge­orge W. Bush-era tax cuts to the wealth­i­est Amer­i­cans. “The pres­i­dent will high­light these things.”

Rick Bowmer

THAT WAS THEN: In 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama greeted sup­port­ers in Madi­son, Wis. He will re­turn to the city to try to re­cap­ture the en­thu­si­asm.

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