Democratic dissatisfaction with President Barack Obama is growing on Capitol Hill.
It reached a boiling point recently when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid cut short a private lunch of Democratic Senators after one stood up to say how much he missed the “good old days” when Bill Clinton was President.
“This is not going to continue,” Reid declared as he cut the lunch short, warning his colleagues that Obama is the leader of their party and will not be disrespected during his watch.
But Reid, by and large, stands alone as a staunch supporter of Obama. Democratic Senators facing touch re-election campaigns have told the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) that they don’t want the President campaigning for them because he ranks lower in the polls than them.
And Democrats don’t always hide their displeasure. Responding to a question on a poll that shows his approval numbers higher than the president, Montana Democratic Senator Jon Tester laughed and said “that means Montanans have good taste. I’m a nicer guy and they know that.”
Reid faces a tough job keeping recalcitrant Democrats in line.
“Harry Reid is an old-fashioned loyalist,” says former Democratic Capitol Hill staffer Arnold Block. “He will be the last man standing when everybody jumps off the good ship Obama.”
Political field operatives for the DSCC are telling incumbents to keep their races local and stay away — as much as they can — from Obama. But that will be difficult when the independent 501 political groups pump millions into campaigns linking Democratic House and Senate incumbents with Obama and his policies.
Some members of the Senate owe their seats to Obama and his landslide election in 2008 and while they don’t face re-election until 2014 they see their colleagues now struggling because of the President’s unpopularity.
“Barack Obama is no longer the savior of the Democratic Party,” says strategist Don Owens. “He’s the albatross around any Democratic incumbent’s neck.”