Obama kiss of death: Not every candidate thrilled to have that supposedly prized Obama endorsement
On Monday, President Obama trotted out his highly awaited endorsement list of more than 100 Democrat down-ballot candidates, and based on the media's reaction, it's the holy grail for those Democrats.
Fox News has a story here. Here's Obama's tweet:
I’m proud to endorse this diverse and hopeful collection of thoughtful, empathetic, and highly qualified Democrats. If you’re in one of their districts or states, make sure you vote for them this fall. And if you can, vote early—by mail or in person. https://t.co/PSm3Rf3wkF pic.twitter.com/7RXrJriBz8— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 3, 2020
Much of the attention has been on Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an openly socialist protege of Bernie Sanders who didn't get one, but that wasn't surprising, given the trouble she's given to the Democrat establishment.
No, amid all this gushing about getting the Obama imprimatur, the news is that at least one candidate views Obama's unsolicited endorsement as the kiss of death.
Here's the Times of San Diego:
In an East and North County district where Republicans outnumber Democrats 40% to 30% in registered voters (with 23.4% declining to state), the former president may not be a help.
"Far left progressives Elizabeth Warren, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders and now Barack Obama have endorsed Ammar Campa-Najjar," said the campaign of GOP opponent Darrell Issa, the former 49th District congressman. "And he wants us to believe he's a conservative?"
(Campa-Najjar doesn't list endorsements by Warren, Ocasio-Cortez or Sanders on his campaign site.)
Contacted for comment on the Issa team remark, Campa-Najjar didn't take the bait.
He said: "I'll let the DC politicians fight each other. I'm focused on fighting for the people of this district. I've been endorsed by Republicans, independents and Democrats — anyone who's interested in helping me lift the voices of CA50 is welcome."
Campa-Najjar said he didn't solicit Obama's endorsement.
When asked if he welcomed Obama's backing, he didn't respond. Neither did the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, contacted for comment.
Earlier, Campa-Najjar texted Times of San Diego: "Biden and Trump are tied in this race, but Obama isn't on the ballot."
Look at all the evidence in his statement:
He didn't solicit the endorsement.
He refused to say if he welcomed it.
He tried to dilute it by claiming that people of all parties have endorsed him.
He tried to say Obama isn't important in any case, because he is "not on the ballot."
Sound like a guy who's happy to have that holy grail Obama endorsement?
Obviously, he considers that Obama endorsement the kiss of death. And sure enough, his Republican rival is using it as a weapon to dissuade voters from voting for him. So much for the Obama endorsement meaning something.
Why would that be? Let's unpack this.
First, Campa-Najjar is running to fill disgraced Rep. Duncan Hunter, Jr.'s seat in the last or one of the last red bastions of San Diego County, the back boonies where some people ride horses to work and conservatives are still a majority. In other words, Reagan Country. He's in a battle with former rep. Darrell Issa for the seat, and according to the most recent polls (which aren't that recent), they're running neck and neck.
He'd run earlier against Hunter himself two years ago and lost to the then-indicted congressman. After that, he changed his packaging to that of a Democratic moderate who owns a gun and doesn't think the government should be picking and choosing which businesses to shut down for COVID. It never helped that his grandpa, Muhammad Youssef al-Najjar, was one of the masterminds of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre and eventually got rubbed out by Israeli commandos. Campa-Najjar now claims he renounces old gramps's "violence," emphasizes his Latino other roots, and says he is a now a Christian. But he certainly was treated like a celebrity on his youthful visits to Gaza, and has called the terrorist chieftain "a legend" on a bulletin board in the past. He also lied about all those years he went to mosque in San Diego, same mosque the 9/11 hijackers frequented. Hard to say if he's really now a moderate, but he's paddling as fast as he can as that to get the votes.
That would explain a little, at least, as to why he doesn't sound too happy about that prized Obama endorsement, something his fellow Democratic candidate, Sara Jacobs, running in the 53rd District, didn't get. The 30-year-old Qualcomm heiress stresses her supposed status as a former "adviser" to the Obama administration in her microscopic work experience, never having held a job for more than a few months. She'd have loved that Obama endorsement, but like Ocasio-Cortez, she got nothing. It would have been easy for him to give it, too, given that her rival is another Democrat (California puts the top two vote-getters on the ballot, which shuts out Republicans) who is tight with the public employee unions and the Bernie Sanders crowd, and she is likely to win.
Instead, the only candidate in the San Diego area who got that Obama endorsement was Campa-Najjar, who didn't want it.
Sound like a Democratic Party that knows what it's doing? You'd think one of them would have told Obama not to endorse this guy, given that he's viewed as an extremist in San Diego's back country. But Obama was convinced he's adored in the district Campa-Najjar is running to take, and, well, the Campa-Najjar reaction tells a different story.
Obama is famous for endorsing hopeless candidacies that sink. One can only hope that, true to form, the Obama imprimatur here will knock out Campa-Najjar for good in those parts.
Image credit: ABC10 YouTube screen shot.