WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will rally votes for the Democratic candidate for governor in Maine on Thursday, the latest in a burst of campaign appearances Obama is making before next week's midterm elections after months of sitting on the sidelines because of his low approval ratings and unpopularity in some states.
Obama is headlining a rally in Portland for Mike Michaud, a six-term congressman who hopes to unseat Republican Gov. Paul LePage in a neck-and-neck race. Independent candidate Eliot Cutler is running a distant third.
Democrats hope a visit by Obama so close to Tuesday's election will encourage Democrats to vote and put Michaud over the top.
Michaud picked up a pre-Obama boost Wednesday by earning the endorsement of Angus King, Maine's independent U.S. senator. King originally had endorsed Cutler but switched to Michaud after Cutler said anyone who doesn't believe he can win should vote for someone else.
Obama is the latest top Democrat to campaign for Michaud, following earlier appearances by Obama's wife, first lady Michelle Obama, and his former secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The president largely has avoided appearing in public with Democratic candidates. Many of them have not wanted to be seen with him because of his poor standing in the polls. Obama is also unpopular in a handful of states where competitive Senate races will help determine party control of Congress' upper chamber for the two years Obama has left in office. Democrats have the majority, but could lose it if Republicans gain six seats.
Instead, Obama has been aggressively raising money for Democratic candidates. Before the rally, he was attending a Democratic National Committee fundraiser with about 25 supporters who gave $16,200 and up to attend the round-table event at the Cape Elizabeth home of Michaud supporters Bob Monks and Bonnie Porta. The event is closed to media coverage.
Obama's appearance with Michaud follows the president's get-out-the-vote exhortation earlier this week in Milwaukee for Democrat Mary Burke. The former businesswoman is challenging Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who could advance a possible 2016 presidential bid by getting re-elected.
After the Maine events, Obama was traveling to Rhode Island to spend the night.
Obama's campaigning will extend into the weekend, the final one before the votes are counted nationwide.
He plans to campaign Saturday in Detroit with Michigan gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer and Gary Peters, the only Senate candidate Obama is scheduled to appear with before the elections. Two stops are on Sunday's schedule: Connecticut for Gov. Dannel Malloy, and Philadelphia for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf. Wolf is challenging Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.
Obama made his first campaign appearances of the year in mid-October with gubernatorial candidates in Maryland and Illinois.
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