Obama may have more to say about N.Y. mayoral race
By Anne E. Kornblut
When President Obama appears in New York on Tuesday, look for him to weigh in on the city's mayoral race - in which his administration recently made the somewhat unexpected move of endorsing City Comptroller William C. Thompson against the sitting mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg (I).
Ostensibly, Obama will be in town raising money for the Democratic National Committee and Bill Owens, the Democratic candidate for the House seat from New York's 23rd Congressional District.
But a senior White House official teased on Monday that "folks should keep their antennae up to see whether the president weighs in a little further than Gibbs did on the New York mayor's race."
That would be Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, who earlier this month disclosed that Obama was backing the Democratic nominee - a long-shot candidate running an uphill race to unseat Bloomberg, who is not affiliated with a party but is running on the Republican and Independence party lines.
"The president is the leader of the Democratic Party, and as that would support the Democratic nominee," Gibbs said Oct. 9, to the surprise of the underdog nominee himself, who according to the New York Times rushed to his campaign headquarters to hold a celebratory news conference.
It was only a pseudo-endorsement for Thompson, and it was followed by words of praise for Bloomberg, a moderate who has won endorsements from some close Obama allies - including John Podesta, who ran the president's transition team. Gibbs said that Obama "obviously has had a chance to, throughout campaigning and in his time both as a candidate and as a president, to meet, know and work with Mayor Bloomberg, and obviously has a tremendous amount of respect for what he's done as well."
Bloomberg has been polling well ahead of Thompson - around 10 percentage points.
Obama's New York stop launches two weeks of intense political activity for the president in the first election season since his own.
On Friday, Obama will campaign for the 2010 reelection of Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), attempting to help Dodd "rebrand himself" by focusing on consumer protections and credit card regulations, an administration official said. Dodd has been plagued by doubts at home for a variety of reasons, including his long stint away to campaign for president in 2008 and a controversy involving his efforts to protect the insurance giant AIG from new federal restrictions on bonuses.
The president will also campaign for Gov. Jon S. Corzine (D-N.J.) on Wednesday and Gov. Deval L. Patrick (D-Mass.) on Friday.
Next Tuesday, Obama will visit Virginia to campaign for Creigh Deeds - even though administration officials have concluded that the Democratic gubernatorial candidate has little chance of making up his nine-point deficit against Republican Bob McDonnell.
Perhaps of greatest interest to the White House is Owens's race: the special House election in Upstate New York.
The seat, long held by Republicans, opened up when Obama tapped Rep. John M. McHugh (R) to serve as his secretary of the Army. Now the race is close, with Owens appearing to hold a narrow lead over the Republican in the three-way race. Administration officials are hopeful that if Owens wins, it will signal continued strength for Obama in moderate and Republican areas - and counterbalance the elections in Virginia and New Jersey, where the Democratic contenders have been struggling.
Posted at 5:00 AM ET on Oct 20, 2009
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