WASHINGTON - The midterm elections are less than a month away, but President Obama is just starting to eye campaign events to help his fellow Democrats win in November.
The president has been an aggressive fundraiser for the party in recent months, and has a number of events on his schedule across the country this week. But he is careful to avoid appearances in any states where his low favorability rating could hurt Democrats' chances. The White House says he plans to start campaigning in person next week, but no events have been announced yet.
His first two fundraisers to benefit the Democratic Party are in New York Tuesday, followed by another in nearby Greenwich, Connecticut, to benefit Senate Democrats.
On Thursday, he heads to California for a three-day fundraising swing to support the party committees working to help Democratic senators, representatives and governors.
The events are private, meaning the candidates won't run the risk of appearing in a photo with the president that could end up as Republican campaign ad fodder. A CBS News poll from mid-September puts the president's approval rating at just 40 percent - five points lower than it was during the 2010 midterms when Republicans won huge gains and took control of the House of Representatives.
Despite a pledge to do all he could to help Democrats, the president's public campaign events have been pushed off by a series of crises requiring his attention like the advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Middle East and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Still, he will hold a few rallies outside of Washington this month, aides said, and ramp up efforts in the final days before the Nov. 4 elections. He'll also record a series of radio ads, robo-calls and digital advertising to aimed at turning out minorities and young voters who helped Mr. Obama win his 2008 and 2012 elections.
"We've got our work cut out for us. Most of our Democratic voters aren't aware there's even an election on Nov. 4," Mr. Obama said in a video for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Because of the heavy opposition to the president in conservative-leaning states like Arkansas and Alaska where Democratic senators face tough re-election battles, Mr. Obama will focus on just a handful of states where he can potentially help. He will spend more time on gubernatorial races, and he is expected to campaign in Florida, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, to name a few. He will spend little time on individual House races.
Even as the president holds back, however, other top Democrats are crisscrossing the country to help candidates.
Vice President Joe Biden began a four-day, six-city campaign tour Monday with a visit to Los Angeles, where he raised money for Rep. Bruce Braley, the Democrat running for Senate in Iowa. On Tuesday, Biden is set to attend rallies in California on behalf of House, mayoral and statewide candidates, before head to Portland Wednesday for a rally with Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon. On Thursday, he travels to Seattle to boost to Sen. Maria Cantwell's re-election bid. And next week, Biden will head to Florida to rally support for former Gov. Charlie Crist in his fight to reclaim his old office (as a Democrat this time).
First lady Michelle Obama has kept up a heavy campaign schedule, with stops Monday in Massachusetts and Maine and visits this week to Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Iowa to help with Senate and gubernatorial races. Former President Bill Clinton has appeared on behalf of Senate candidates including Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky and Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, who is fighting to keep his seat in Arkansas. And Hillary Rodham Clinton has announced plans to campaign for Democratic candidates in at least 10 key states before Election Day.