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GOP Senate Candidate Latches Onto Obama

By Jonathan Weisman
Just last month, Democratic Mississippi House candidate Travis Childers was trying to wriggle out from behind Barack Obama's coattails, under which the national Republican Party was trying to smother him.

Now look who's riding those coat tails: Embattled Republican Sen. Gordon Smith (Ore.) released a television advertisement yesterday seeking to link himself with the presumptive Democratic nominee for the presidency.

"Who says Gordon Smith helped lead the fight for better gas mileage and a cleaner environment?" a female narrator asks. "Barack Obama."

The ad flashes to an image of Obama's face and the Illinois senator's website.

The ad is all the more striking since recent polling from Oregon suggests that, while Obama may have a lead, the race in Oregon is competitive relative to the other west coast states, California and Washington.

And tomorrow in New Hampshire, Democratic senatorial candidate Jeanne Shaheen will be campaigning with Michelle Obama, whom Republicans have been trying to brand a political radical and a Democratic liability.

At least for the moment, and in some parts of the country, Obama does not appear to be the downticket drag Republicans were counting on. Indeed, if anything, now it's Obama who is trying to shake his coattail grabbers.

"Barack Obama has a long record of bipartisan accomplishment and we appreciate that it is respected by his Democratic and Republican colleagues in the Senate," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said after Smith's ad was released. "But in this race, Oregonians should know that Barack Obama supports Jeff Merkley for Senate. Merkley will help Obama bring about the fundamental change we need in Washington."

By Web Politics Editor  |  June 25, 2008; 11:19 AM ET
Categories:  Battlegrounds  
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