White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was unable to say Thursday whether President Obama would make a campaign appearance with lesbian U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin to assist in her bid to become the first openly gay person elected to the U.S. Senate.
Carney said he had “no campaign announcements” when asked by the Washington Blade whether Obama would travel to Wisconsin to campaign with Baldwin, who’s running against Republican candidate Tommy Thompson to replace retiring Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.).
“I have no campaign announcements, scheduling announcements to make on behalf of the president,” Carney said. “The president himself has an election as you know in a few short months. But I have no campaign announcements to make.”
Under further questioning, Carney acknowledged that Baldwin’s campaign is significant in terms of the expertise the seven-term congresswoman would bring to the U.S. Senate.
“I think it’s very significant,” Carney said. “I think what is most significant is that someone qualified like Ms. Baldwin is running for that office and would make an excellent senator if elected.”
Baldwin appears to be facing an tough battle in her race against Thompson because recent polls give him a considerable lead. A poll from Marquette University Law School published Wednesday found Thompson leading Baldwin 50-41, while a Public Policy Poll published the same day gave Thompson a 49-44 lead.
It’s not unprecedented for Obama to campaign with Democratic candidates who are in tight races. In 2010, among the Democratic incumbents with whom Obama campaigned was former Rep. Tom Perriello, who had voted for health care reform legislation even though he represented a conservative district in Virginia. Perriello ultimately lost the election, but only by a margin of four points against Republican Robert Hurt. Perriello now serves as president of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
On the same day as Carney’s remarks, the lesbian political action committee LPAC announced it had donated $112,000 to Baldwin’s effort through the “WISCONSIN WOMEN VOTE!” independent expenditure campaign, which will assist in buying air time for a TV ad depicting Thompson as a D.C. insider. LPAC had previously announced its own initiative in which it would match donations up to $50,000 to Baldwin’s campaign.
“Tammy Baldwin embodies everything LPAC stands for,” said LPAC Chair Sarah Schmidt. “She has a history of protecting women’s rights and expanding issues of social justice. Rep. Baldwin is a staunch advocate for reproductive rights and wrote bills to expand both breast cancer screenings and hate crime laws, as well as measures to eliminate workplace discrimination.”