In Delaware, Obama and Biden stump for Coons in Senate race against O'Donnell

Christine O'Donnell, a "tea party"-backed insurgent candidate, stunned the GOP establishment by beating nine-term Rep. Mike Castle for the Delaware Senate nomination.
By Nia-Malika Henderson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 15, 2010; 4:22 PM

In football, if a coach keeps the strongest players in during a blowout game, it's usually called piling on.

But Friday in Delaware, it was just politics when President Obama and Vice President Biden showed up to campaign for Democrat Chris Coons, who polls show has a nearly 20-point edge in his U.S. Senate race against Republican nominee and "tea party" favorite Christine O'Donnell.

Although the race is in one of the country's smallest states, it has drawn national attention in recent weeks, in part because of O'Donnell's colorful past - something neither Obama nor Biden alluded to in their remarks.

They didn't have to.

By simply showing up in Biden's home state of Delaware, Obama is attempting to do what he did to House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) a few weeks ago: elevate an opponent to draw a sharp contrast. Obama was also trying to link the tea party to the GOP.

Biden, who held the Senate seat for 36 years, described Coons, county executive for New Castle County, as "a man of incredible integrity."

"He knows why he has to win: It's about giving middle class folks a shot. . . . This guy understands the problems of struggling Americans," he said. "That's what this is all about. That's what this race is all about."

Obama said that the political environment for Democrats is tough, even in Delaware, and he urged against complacency in a race where the party seems poised for a runaway victory. He praised Coons's record of balancing the budget and making tough choices.

"Chris is the kind of leader that you want representing you in the United States Senate. He knows this state. He knows its values," he said. "Chris isn't looking to be a voice for special interests; he's looking to be a voice for Delaware."

O'Donnell took to her Twitter account to say that Obama and Biden's appearance indicates that she has momentum and tweeted that Coons was using the appearance to distract voters from his record.

"We shocked the establishment once, now let's do it again!" she tweeted.

O'Donnell has criticized the National Republican Senatorial Committee for not helping her campaign. In two debates this week, she tried to link Coons to Obama's policies.

The president will travel next week to Maryland, Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada and Minnesota. On Saturday, he will head to Boston, and Sunday he plans to appear with first lady Michelle Obama at a rally in Ohio.

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