President Obama is intensifying his political activity for Democratic candidates in the closing weeks of the campaign season, starring in series of television and radio commercials for congressional and gubernatorial candidates from coast to coast as he travels the country on behalf of Hillary Clinton.
Obama this week started appearing in a TV ad for former Florida governor Charlie Crist, the Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat who is running for a Tampa-area House seat and is expected to win.
“As governor, he worked with both parties to get things done. And I know you can trust Charlie to do the same in Congress,” Obama says in the ad.
Across the country, from Upstate New York to Minnesota, California and Oregon, voters will see or hear the president delivering similar messages for Democratic candidates.
On Oregon's airwaves, Obama is calling Democratic Gov. Kate Brown “my friend” and credits her for boosting the state's minimum wage. In Chicago, viewers may see Obama touting former Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), who is trying to win back a suburban seat, and his support for stricter gun laws.
Obama's embrace of Democrats down the ballot is a stark contrast to his first eight years in the national political spotlight.
Congressional Democrats have long complained, mostly in private and sometimes in public, about the president's lack of genuine relationships and bonding with them. One of the beneficiaries of the recent Obama ads is Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), who is one of just three Democrats in the House to have played golf with the president.
More importantly, Democrats have griped about the president's passive approach to campaigning for them, particularly House Democrats, who have more often been given the services of Vice President Biden for campaign appearances and ads. During the 2008 campaign Obama did just one advertisement for congressional Democrats. In 2012, Democrats felt neglected down the ballot even on small matters such as getting the presidential team's field staff to hand out literature for their campaigns as they canvassed for votes.
Of course, the president's top advisers have often noted that congressional Democrats abandoned him when he was down, during the 2010 and 2014 midterms when they lost by huge margins as the liberal base of support did not turn out in large enough numbers.
Buoyed by stronger approval ratings, Obama is eagerly using his bully pulpit to attack Republicans other than presidential candidate Donald Trump.
On Thursday he used a stop in Miami to attack Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the former presidential candidate who is seeking reelection. Rubio spent most of his failed presidential bid mocking the ineffectiveness of the Senate and frequently called eventual GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump a “con artist.”
“How can you call him a con artist and dangerous and object to all the controversial things he says and say I am still going to vote for him?” Obama asked of Rubio. “C’mon, man. You know what that is. It is the height of cynicism.”
On the airwaves, Obama is also set to star in TV ads for Bryan Caforio, who is trying to win a House seat from northern Los Angeles County; Terri Bonoff, running in a suburban Minneapolis district; and Colleen Deacon, a former Senate aide hoping to pick up a Syracuse, N.Y.-area seat, according to senior Democratic officials, who asked for anonymity to sketch out the president's political work.
Among Senate candidates, Obama will appear in TV spots for Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.), who hopes to unseat Rubio; California's Kamala Harris; North Carolina's Deborah Ross; Pennsylvania's Katie McGinty; and Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), who is trying to defeat Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who holds Obama's former Senate seat.
On the radio, Obama cut ads for Vermont Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sue Minter and North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, who is challenging incumbent Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. He's also on the radio for Ross and McGinty and Senate candidates Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada, and Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire.
On the House side, Obama is on the radio for Yarmuth; Tom O'Halleran, who hopes to keep Arizona's 1st Congressional District in Democratic hands; Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) -- seen as a rising party star; and Ruben Kihuen and Jacky Rosen, who are running to snatch away from Republicans a pair of Las Vegas-area districts.
Then there's money.
Obama has headlined a combined 21 fundraising events for the Democratic House, Senate and gubernatorial campaign committees, according to those Democratic officials. He has also headlined individual fundraising events for Cortez Masto; Duckworth; Democratic Washington Gov. Jay Inslee; Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.); and former Ohio governor Ted Strickland, who is running an uphill battle to defeat Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), according to Democrats, who couldn't immediately provide a total sum he has helped raise.
“I will not be on the ballot, but everything we’ve done is going to be on the ballot,” Obama said last week at an event for Strickland.
Greg Jaffe contributed to this report.