National

Obama stays at home on Election Day

The White House in Washington, D.C.
The White House in Washington, D.C. McClatchy

President Barack Obama -- who raised millions but was a rare presence on the 2014 campaign trail -- spent Election Day at the White House, meeting with his Ebola response team and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Press Secretary Josh Earnest defended Obama’s low key approach to an election that could go south on Democrats, noting Obama was working on “core American priorities.” He said Obama had already “aggressively made the case for Democrats.”

Obama, in a radio interview, blamed this year’s map for making it difficult for Democrats.

“This is probably the worst possible group of states for Democrats since Dwight Eisenhower," Obama said in a call with a Connecticut radio station. "There are a lot of states that being contested where they just tend to tilt Republican and Democrats are competitive, but (the states) tend to tilt that way."

Many Senate Democrats in vulnerable races had sought to distance themselves from Obama and Earnest made it clear that decision was up to the campaigns.

“It's the White House's view that it is the prerogative of anybody who is going to put their name on the ballot that they should get to determine their campaign strategy,” Earnest said.

Earnest noted that a number of robo-calls Obama made in support of Democratic candidates were to be aired on Election Day and Obama called into a Hartford radio station to tout Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy and urge voters who had been turned away because of problems with voting lists at the polling places to go back and vote.

"If people were planning to vote before going to work, and they weren't able to do it, that's frustrating," Obama said. "I want to encourage everyone who is listening not to be deterred by what was obviously an inconvenience."

Obama, who voted last month on a campaign trip to Chicago, planned to watch election returns in the White House residence and is likely to get updated by his Office of Political Strategy and Outreach, Earnest said.

“He'll be monitoring the results, like many Americans tonight,” Earnest said.

Vice President Joe Biden predicted Tuesday that Democrats would hold the Senate with 52 seats. He predicted Democratic victories in Alaska, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Georgia and Louisiana, though he noted Louisiana could advance to a runoff.

He also said there’s a “chance” for Kansas independent Greg Orman to beat Republican Sen. Pat Roberts and that Orman “will be with us" -- though Orman hasn’t said whether he’d caucus with Republicans or Democrats.

Biden’s remarks came on the " Chaz and AJ" radio show, which airs on Connecticut stations WPLR, WDRC and WFOX.

Obama hasn’t endorsed in the Kansas race and Earnest said he was unaware that anyone in the administration had talked to Orman about which party he’d side with.

“I have not spoken to the vice president about it, so I don't know who he's talked to,” Earnest said.

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