Red State Dem senators rip Obama after SOTU

Editor Lifson has been chronicling the phenomenon of red state Democrats finding someplace else to be when the president visits their states.

Get a load of what some red state Democratic senators had to say about the president following his State of the Union speech.

The Hill:

Red state Democrats instead used the speech to take shots at Obama on issues close to their constituencies, a strategy the party looks to be embracing to hold on to its Senate majority.

Sen. Mary Landrieu blasted Obama for not mentioning the Keystone oil pipeline. "I'm disappointed," the Louisiana Democrat said.

Sen. Mark Pryor didn't mince words either. Perhaps the nation's most endangered Senate Democrat, he said Obama was "heavy on rhetoric but light on specifics about how we can move our country forward."

Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) was especially terse, calling out Obama for delivering "a lot of sound bites" when Alaskans needed to hear "a clear plan and commitment to economic growth."

Democratic strategists said drawing those contrasts with the president is smart politics, and exactly how the party won unlikely races in Montana and North Dakota last cycle.

"At the end of the day, red states are red states for a reason. They didn't vote for the president, and voters in those states want their members of Congress to be representing them, not the president," said Democratic pollster and Hill columnist Mark Mellman.

Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan (N.C.) was more cordial toward the president, but said she wanted more focus paid by the administration on trade deals that could affect Tar Heel state manufacturers and endanger those jobs.

"Specifically, I've called on the administration to protect textile manufacturers, ensure equal treatment for tobacco farmers and continue to provide incentive for North Carolina bioscience companies to develop potentially life-saving drugs," she said.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Tuesday let its candidates speak for themselves, and didn't put out a statement boosting Obama.

While the White House saw the State of the Union address as giving something for Democrats to run on, a DSCC spokesman argued its candidates had cultivated reputations apart from the president. 

"Democratic Senate candidates won in half the states that Mitt Romney won [in 2012]. Senate races are not 'live and die with the president,' " said DSCC spokesman Justin Barasky.

History has shown that criticizing your party's president doesn't help much in convincing people you're actually opposed to hm. Opposition ads are usually an effective counter to that. This will be especially true in this election cycle as Republican candidates will seek to remind the voter early and often who voted for Obamacare. Any pronouncements from red state Democrats will be meaningless.

The attitude of the DSCC is one of desperation. If they want to keep control of the senate, they are going to have to allow members broad leeway in how they paint their relationship with the president. Again, it is not likely to work as long as the GOP can keep the focus on Obamacare.

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