Obama concedes some Dems will avoid his campaign help
The candid self-appraisal came during a policy retreat with the Senate Democratic caucus at the Washington Nationals' stadium, part of a flurry of outreach efforts with congressional Democrats this week.
"He said he knew he is not popular in some of the states, so he would not be offended if he were not invited to visit them this year," said one senator who requested anonymity. "But he said he could be helpful in some parts of some states."
A day earlier, Obama met with House Democrats for two hours at the White House, with about 10 members of his cabinet joining the reception.
In the Senate, members in tough races have begun to distance themselves from Obama. Sen. Mark Begich (D., Alaska) said in an interview with CNN last week that he was "not really interested in campaigning" with the president and would like to see him alter some policies.
Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, another at-risk Democrat, said before Wednesday's meeting, "I think the president is more focused on running the country than helping me in my reelection."
Some Democrats have declined to attend events with Obama when he has visited their states. Landrieu did not join him at a November event on the economy at a New Orleans port, and Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina snubbed the president last month when he spoke at North Carolina State University.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday that Obama "will be doing everything he can to assist Democrats, as he already has." But Carney said Obama is more keenly focused on rallying Democrats to support the agenda he laid out in his State of the Union address last week.
Tensions within the party were apparent at times during the question-and-answer sessions between lawmakers and the president.
During the event with House members, Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D., N.H.) told Obama that someone should be fired for the health-care law's rollout, according to several people.
The moment was made more awkward because Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was among the cabinet members who mingled with the lawmakers.