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Obama works to block Republican mid-term gains

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(Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama is revving up his campaign fundraising in a bid to block Republican gains in the November House and Senate midterm elections that could frustrate the rest of his presidency.

Obama, who some Democrats have complained hasn’t done enough to help the party’s candidates, has committed to appear at 18 fundraising events for the Democratic National Committee over the next five months. In addition, he’ll attend 12 events through June to benefit Democratic House, Senate and gubernatorial candidates, according to an administration official, who asked for anonymity to discuss political strategy.

The Democratic Party’s national committees for the Senate and House of Representatives together out-raised their Republican counterparts last year by about $31 million, according to Federal Election Commission reports.

However, the Republican National Committee’s 2013 receipts topped those of the Democratic National Committee by almost $16 million. At the end of January, the DNC still owed about $16 million from Obama’s re-election had $5.7 million cash on hand, compared to the debt-free RNC’s $9.8 million.

The president plans to share his strategy and campaign themes at a closed-door winter meeting of the Democratic National Committee, and at a separate fundraising event, in Washington later today.

 “The Republican Party can keep telling the country what they’re against -- whether it’s the Affordable Care Act, or the minimum wage, or equal pay laws, or commonsense immigration reform, or the very existence of climate change,” Obama will say, according to an excerpt released by the White House. “But Democrats will keep telling America what we’re for -- from giving America a raise to getting America covered.”

Republican leaders are laying out their election themes, as well. House Speaker John Boehner said yesterday there are “two really big issues” for the November congressional elections, and they are the economy and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

“The president’s policies are getting in the way of our economic recovery,” the Ohio Republican told reporters at the Capitol. “So I think it’s important for Republicans to have our, what I would call, better solutions. Better solutions on Obamacare. Better solutions on getting our economy growing.”

More fundraising

Obama, 52, who won re-election in 2012, showed last year that he is more committed to the mid-term elections than he was during his first term. He headlined at least 38 fundraising events for the major Democratic Party committees in 2013, twice as many as in 2009.

Historically, the president’s party loses seats in mid-term elections.

Democrats now control the Senate 55-45. There are more Democratic senators than Republicans up for re-election. Four of those races are in Republican-leaning states -- Alaska, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Arkansas -- and as many as eight others may be competitive.

Republicans have a chance to seize between four and seven seats in November, opening the way to a shift in control, independent political analyst Stuart Rothenberg, publisher of the Washington-based Rothenberg Political Report, said Feb. 20.

“The map, the math and the mood is kind of working in our favor,” Ohio Senator Rob Portman, vice chairman for finance of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said Feb. 20 on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program.

Republicans hold the majority in the House 232 to 199, with four vacancies. They have thwarted Obama’s agenda since they won control of the chamber in the 2010 elections.

Political chances

Democrats would need to win 17 seats to gain control of the House. “The consensus of analysts who follow House races is that Democrats almost certainly cannot regain control this November; in fact, they may lose a few more seats,” said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

Millions of Obama supporters in his presidential campaign network will be tapped to rally supporters in races for Congress and governor. The national Democrats also begin “Project Ivy” this week, an effort to make available digital technology used in 2012 to state parties and candidates, Michael Czin, a DNC spokesman, said in an e-mail.

“Project Ivy will help build the next generation of tools and technology to empower state parties, campaigns and voters to engage in elections at all levels and move our country forward,” Czin said.

Joel Benenson, Obama’s pollster and political strategist, said in a memo to supporters that Obama’s campaign message will be “opportunity for all vs. opportunity for a few,” using such issues as minimum wage, equal pay and college affordability to illustrate the theme.

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