WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is out to make sure his presence pays for Democrats, launching a three-day fundraising trip on Monday in which he will touch nearly every region of the nation and play up his economic agenda.
Obama will spend the heart of his Monday in Wisconsin, raising money for gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett and other Wisconsin Democrats. Barrett was an early supporter of Obama's once long-shot White House bid.
He will cap his day at a glitzy fundraiser in Los Angeles for congressional Democratic candidates.
With Congress gone and much of Washington in vacation mode, Obama is squeezing in a largely political trip that foreshadows how he will campaign in the fall — aggressively, in places where is he wanted. Over three days, Obama will be raising dollars for Democrats in five states, from the Midwest to the West, Northwest to Northeast, South and back home.
The presidential agenda each day will underline Obama's efforts, supported mostly by Democrats in Congress, to turn around a lumbering economy by investing long-term in a new foundation. On Monday in Milwaukee, the president will speak at ZBB Energy Corp., a company that makes batteries and fuel cells that use renewable sources of energy.
By pairing official events with political ones, the White House can bill taxpayers for most of the cost of the trip.
President to all but leader of the Democratic Party, Obama has a political job description that demands he help elect lawmakers and state chief executives who support his agenda. And that often means showing up to support their campaigns.
"The president takes that role seriously," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. "And we obviously are getting closer and closer to some very important elections."
In November, all 435 House seats, one-third of the Senate, and a majority of governor's and legislative jobs will be on the ballot. Democrats now control the House and Senate, but the ailing economy has turned voters against incumbents.
All together, Obama will visit Wisconsin, California, Washington, Ohio and Florida before returning to the nation's capital Wednesday night. Each stop involves tight races in states that could be vital to Obama himself in 2012.