Obama Heckled on Immigration Reform During Campaign StopToluse Olorunnipa
President Barack Obama wrapped up his campaigning in the 2014 elections by encouraging Democrats to cast ballots in governors’ races in Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
Obama was interrupted multiple times by protesters upset over deportations of undocumented immigrants at a rally yesterday for Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy in Bridgeport. He then stumped for Tom Wolf, the Democrat running for governor in Pennsylvania.
The president worked to highlight the U.S. economic recovery and to cast Republicans as obstructionists.
“The biggest corporations, they don’t need another champion. The wealthiest Americans don’t need another champion. You do,” Obama said to a crowd of 1,900 at a Bridgeport, Connecticut high school. “But none of that happens unless you go vote.”
Obama’s appearances capped a two-week sprint in which the president, whose approval ratings in polls have been around 42 percent, steered clear of the competitive U.S. Senate contests that could give Republicans control of that chamber and shape his final two years in office.
Obama has concentrated his limited campaign appearances on governor’s races in states he won in 2008 and 2012.
Malloy faces a tough challenge from businessman Tom Foley, a Republican he narrowly defeated in 2010. In the past week, Obama has also campaigned with Democrats running for governor in Maine, Michigan, Wisconsin and Rhode Island.
In Connecticut, Obama urged Democrats -- who typically vote at a lower rate in midterms than during presidential elections - - to get their friends and family members to the polls. Malloy, 59, is in a dead heat with Foley, 62, according to an average of recent polls by RealClearPolitics.com.
“In America, we have an obligation to make sure that everyone shares in our success,” Malloy said at the rally. “Not just the wealthy or those who have made their own wealth.”
Obama focused on middle-class issues, casting Republicans as advocates for the wealthy -- a theme Malloy and other Democrats have used this year. In ads, Malloy has featured Foley’s 116-foot yacht, calling the private-equity firm founder out-of-touch with ordinary citizens.
Obama had to stop his speech at least five times as protesters upset about deportations and a lack of immigration legislation held signs and shouted at the president.
“I am sympathetic to those who are concerned about immigration,” Obama said after one of the protesters was ushered out of the high school gym. “That’s why we fought for immigration reform. It’s the other party that’s blocked it.”
While Obama has pressed for a new U.S. immigration law that would provide a path to citizenship for some of those in the country illegally and deferred deportations for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, his administration has stepped up deporting undocumented immigrants. Deportations averaged 1,000 a day last year, more than under any other president.
Immigration advocates are pressing Obama to keep his promise to use executive authority on immigration and expand the number of people eligible for deferred deportations.
In Pennsylvania, Obama stumped with Wolf, a businessman who has spent $10 million of his own money on his campaign. Wolf gives Democrats their best chance to oust a Republican governor, as incumbent Tom Corbett trails in polls.
Wolf “has a different vision for what this country should look like,” Obama told a crowd of about 5,500 at a rally at Temple University in Philadelphia. “Tom wants to grow Pennsylvania’s economy from the middle-class out.”
The Democrats’ 55-45 control of the Senate is in jeopardy, polls indicate. Democratic candidates are trailing in Montana, West Virginia and South Dakota and incumbents in varying degrees of trouble in Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, North Carolina and New Hampshire.
Democrats are vying to win Republican-held seats in Kentucky and Georgia, and independent candidate Greg Orman is running close to Kansas Republican Pat Roberts.
For his flight home to Washington from Philadelphia last night, Obama switched to a backup Air Force jet because of a mechanical malfunction. Deputy press secretary Eric Schultz described it as a “minor mechanical problem with one of the aircraft’s flaps.” Obama’s schedule wasn’t affected.