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Obama to campaign for Coakley


The White House was trying to avoid this, it seemed. They didn't want the risk of campaigning for Martha Coakley in Massachusetts and losing the seat anyway. But that's not as bad as not campaigning for Martha Coakley and losing health-care reform. So Obama heads to the Bay State on Sunday. But this is about more than just Obama's presence. If you look at the rationale Mike Allen is getting from the administration, Obama is heading down there because Coakley can be "saved." Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod "called around," apparently.

My hunch is that Obama's visit is as much about changing the narrative as energizing the Bay State base. By taking the risk of going down to Massachusetts, the White House is signaling that they think Coakley will be able to win -- or else why would they dare go? And that's important for tripping up Brown's momentum, as the media narrative was shifting towards something closer to anointment. It also nationalizes the election a bit. Now it's a fight between Obama and the Republicans, not just Coakley and Brown.

But boy, has Coakley been a mess of a candidate. That's one campaign you'll never see on an ambitious staffer's resume. Unless, of course, that ambitious staffer is a Republican.

By Ezra Klein  |  January 15, 2010; 5:10 PM ET
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Hopefully, a condition of Obama's flying up there to bail Coakley out is that she quit politics in 2012.

Posted by: crazymoloch | January 15, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Potentially we are looking at a 'political earthquake' next week. There are no words to put around the drama, bizarre situation which is going on.

It does not amuse me anything, being an Obama supporter that it was last Sunday when I rendered this unbelievable scenario for this presidency (

I guess there will be time to apportion the blame if this political calamity realizes - Congress, Sen. Reid, Republicans, President, bloggers like Ezra and citizens like me. Because it is clear this is going for the History books.

Choice for the President is to be ugly and pass the bill even though MA people would have spoken against it; or respect that wish and play straight bat - let go HCR. (What Ezra is talking here does not make any sense and that is not what it is.) In the former choice President will have to be ready for extremely protracted Political battle for many, many years and potentially violent reactions in short term. In the later case potentially it will be political glory but from concrete achievement point of view, the President and Dems would come a cropper (they had a year, but could not deliver HCR....)

No matter, Peggy Noonan seems prescient - HCR will be the Pyrrhic victory.

So much for the wisdom of Ezra and Obama's nerd gurus...

May be I will be wrong and the President will win the political battle on Tuesday. We will see.

Posted by: umesh409 | January 15, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, this is really making me sick to my stomach. What do your sources seriously suggest they're going to do if Brown wins?

Voting for reform before he's seated MAY be a possibility, but I'm a little skeptical, especially because I could see several wavering Senate Dems bail.

What, seriously, are the options. Do you think Senate Dems might consider the nuclear option? Or would they have the House pass the Senate bill and pass modifications through reconciliation?

I don't think Democrats have the option of abandoning HCR if she loses, but the math becomes close-to-impossible. What are they going to do?

Posted by: Isa8686 | January 15, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

"But boy, has Coakley bee a mess of a candidate. "

Yes, she has been.

Posted by: rmgregory | January 15, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Obama campaigning for Coakley is a no-brainer. Their fates are inextricably linked already.

Posted by: bmull | January 15, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse

I think the real conclusion here by WH is, they will not be able to 'close and zip HCR' by Monday 18 no matter what when it is needed to go to CBO so by Jan 26 they get it back, it is open for 72 hours and by Jan 28 the Senate process starts for the final voting by Jan 30 or 31; right before Brown swears in.

If Brown wins, I cannot see how swearing of him can be delayed beyond 10 days i.e. Jan 29; otherwise there can be riots in MA.

So if you cannot zip it by Monday (President has no more planned meetings over the weekend, new issue of Medicade is there and then there is abortion); you are not making at anyways. So then way bother seems to be the reaction of WH.

I do not think it is as simple as Ezra makes out that WH thinks Coakly can win and hence President decided to campaign.

WH assessment is unless they get Coakly, HCR is not flying. This all point to a realistic chance of failure of HCR. Since Dems are not rushing to finish by Monday and if Brown wins, HCR is dead since none of the things which Ezra talks will happen (House accepting Senate bill or reconciliation etc.).

Complacency by Dems is amazing here unless I am a dumb who is reading 'too much' and missing some magic which President will pull.

Posted by: umesh409 | January 15, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Why is everyone so surprised?

Obama ran as a moderate and told any lie it took to get elected and now, with a trail of broken promises and a far left agenda, the people are reacting....even in a deep red state.

It's as if the Dems' Chicago-Style hardball tactics of lies, smokey room closed-door negotiations, and bribes to every group that opposes shouldn't matter to the voters.

Memo to Dems: It matters

Posted by: WrongfulDeath | January 16, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Should be 'deep blue state'.

Posted by: WrongfulDeath | January 16, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Memo to liberal bloggers, Klein, Kos and no not you firedoglake you made your bed with Hamsher: THere's a slave revolt cooking up in Massachusettes (tm: Coakley!) and we intend to quell it. We never thought this challenge would come from the northern end of the empire, but in Massachusettes (tm: Coakley) they still have the memory of liberty and standing up for freedom, I guess. They took the death of the satrap Kennedy as a signal for an uprising. Not so fast, my Bay province friends! Stand by for instructions how to spin this. Can you say: white house superbowl party invite! communications gang.

Posted by: truck1 | January 17, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

I'm wondering if it would be a good thing for Obama and Progressives in general if he loses a battle. The biggest weakness I see in Obama's political strategy is a tendency to pick fights to carefully so as to avoid any chance of loss(and assumedly prevent loss of political capital, turn in the national narrative, etc...). If Obama lost a fight, maybe he'd start picking fights for the right reasons, maybe he'd worry less about losing.

Posted by: zosima | January 18, 2010 2:34 AM | Report abuse

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