President Obama is spending Election Day as he’s spent much of the preceding weeks: at the White House and out of view of the cameras.
Obama’s schedule on Tuesday includes a closed press meeting with his national security and public health teams to review the Ebola response, as well as a summit with the managing director of the International Monetary Fund.
The president will also host a private lunch with Vice President Biden, and the pair is scheduled to meet with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in the late afternoon. But none of the events are scheduled to be open to reporters.
That means Obama won’t have appeared publicly for more than 48 hours before voters head to the polls, underscoring Democratic fears he’ll serve as a liability to vulnerable senators hoping to eek out a victory.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday the campaign had entered “a different phase of the election cycle.”
“This is when successful campaigns, at least, turn their attention from some of the broader arguments that are carried over the television waves and are focused on a ground campaign to make sure that their voters are turning out on Election Day,” Earnest said.
The White House spokesman said an effective turnout operation “can provide a 2 to 3 point margin that could eventually make up the difference” in a close election.
In total, the president appeared at just seven political rallies ahead of the midterm elections, with only one — an appearance Sunday for Michigan Senate candidate Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) — to benefit a candidate for national office.
Obama did three additional drop-bys at campaign offices, but his effort was far outpaced by other members of the White House team — including the first lady, who appeared at 16 campaign rallies this cycle.
White House officials insist the president doesn’t mind that it appears as though he’s been sidelined this election.
“The view that is shared I think by everybody at the White House is that we want to do everything that we can to support candidates up and down the ballot who are interested in advancing economic policies that are in the best interest of middle-class families,” Earnest said last week. “And there are a variety of ways in which the president himself and his broader campaign team, including those outside the White House, can assist other candidates.”
Obama does plan additional radio interviews and advertisements in the final hours of the campaign. Late Monday, Sen. Kay Hagan’s (D-N.C.) campaign released an advertisement featuring Obama encouraging voters to support her. The president also rallied Texas Democrats on a conference call Friday organized by gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis.
“I would anticipate that you’ll see more of — that you will see the president engaged in those kinds of activities,” Earnest said.