Littwin: We’ll be right with you, Mr. President

Littwin: We’ll be right with you, Mr. President

IF it’s true that 90 percent of life is showing up, then Mark Udall, John Hickenlooper and Andrew Romanoff have a problem.

Sometimes, there are just too many places to be.

As you may have heard, the president is coming to town. Barack Obama is giving a speech in Cheesman Park Wednesday morning before headlining a Udall fundraiser. I’ll be at Cheesman because when presidents from either party come to town, I try to stop by just in case something important actually happens.

But Udall won’t be attending the speech. And Hickenlooper won’t be attending the speech. And Romanoff won’t be attending the speech.

Does anyone really think that Obama, who twice carried Colorado, is going to hurt Udall simply by crossing the state line? What’s the logic — that undecided voters might have forgotten that Obama and Udall are both Democrats?

You know why.

Yes, they all have apparent scheduling conflicts. (What, you thought it was politics?) These scheduling problems happen to me all the time, but, as it turns out, I don’t have a scheduler. These guys do, but still their calendars are all full. If only Obama had given them sufficient warning, right?

Udall can’t get here in time from Washington for the speech because he’ll be up late the night before doing the hard work of the Senate. That’s what his spokesperson said.

Udall will be at the fundraiser, though, because the funds being raised are basically going to his campaign. It would be a little awkward for him not to be there. But the fundraiser is closed to the press — fundraisers always are — and there is no word of any photo-op, although (note to Hickenlooper) don’t you think there will be pictures taken anyway?

Hickenlooper won’t be at the speech or the fundraiser — after all, it’s not his fundraiser – although his spokesperson did say the governor may try to get in a chat with the president sometime. No mention of a joint public appearance, though, because … scheduling? Yes, he’s booked all day Tuesday and Wednesday.

I’m not sure of Romanoff’s plans. I am told (OK, I read it in the Post) his schedule doesn’t include Cheesman.

I know the cynical interpretation of all this, the one that can’t be missed – that it’s really about Obama’s approval ratings being underwater. And then there was that Udall quote a while back in which he couldn’t quite bring himself to commit to having the president campaign for him.

And now that Obama is coming, Udall is making news by looking like he’s not willing to fully commit himself again. Which is strange on at least two levels.

One, I hope this doesn’t surprise anyone, but Republicans already have photos of Udall with Obama. I’ve seen them. Hell, everyone has seen them. What’s Udall s going to say – that it’s a mixup and they’re really photos of Tom Udall?

And, two, does anyone really think that Obama, who twice carried Colorado, is going to hurt Udall simply by crossing the state line? What’s the logic — that undecided voters might have forgotten that Obama and Udall are both Democrats?

Whether or not Udall has his photo taken with Obama, Cory Gardner and his fellow Republicans will still say exactly the same thing. They don’t have much on Udall, who’s a likable guy with a famous name and a moderately liberal voting record. At this point, Republicans are reduced to jumping on him for procedural votes made against the Keystone XL pipeline, which isn’t going to cost him much support.

What they do have is Obama’s low approval ratings and Obamacare’s low approval ratings and Udall’s ties to both. You may have heard something along these lines before. I’m pretty sure you’ll hear them again, although here’s a bet: Obama’s numbers will be better in November than they are now. Of course, they’d pretty much have to be.

Which is why, if I were advising Udall — surprisingly he hasn’t asked — I’d tell him to cross everyone up and be there Wednesday morning. That’s how you make a headline.

Obama is going to talk about the new jobs report and the falling unemployment rate and any other good economic news for which he can take credit. Udall can take credit, too. Sure, he didn’t have anything to do with the improvement, but he didn’t have anything to do with the recession either.

Obama is going to talk about how Obamacare is actually working and how it isn’t the job killer that Republicans warned about. Or maybe he won’t talk about it. In any case, millions of people who didn’t have insurance now do. Those whose policies were “canceled” somehow seem to have gotten insurance. If you know of anyone who hasn’t, the Koch brothers want to hear from you.

Obama definitely will talk about Republican obstructionism on immigration reform and the effects of the shadow economy on the real economy. Doesn’t Udall want to jump on that poll-friendly issue?

OK, maybe this is not the perfect political moment for him, but what’s Udall’s message in not being there for the speech? It’s an unforced error that plays exactly into the Republican narrative. And it’s so easy to change.

All Udall has to do is get a new scheduler. Or, I know, maybe just catch an earlier flight.

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About the Author

Mike Littwin

He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow. | Twitter @mike_littwin

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