Obama Raises Money for Clinton, Boosts Down-Ballot Democrats

KEVIN FREKING, Associated Press

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Lobbing zingers at Donald Trump and congressional Republicans, President Barack Obama is raising money for Hillary Clinton on a western swing also intended to boost Democrats who could cut into GOP majorities in Congress.

Obama told some 60 donors paying $10,000 a person here Sunday that some of the greatest progress during his tenure came when Democrats controlled both chambers during his first two years. He said he’d been prepared to veto many bills when Republicans took over, but “they are not even organized enough to get their own stuff done.”

After another Clinton fundraiser Monday, Obama flies to Los Angeles for a taping of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”

The president’s western campaign swing included a boisterous rally Sunday in Las Vegas, where he told Nevadans they have a winning hand in Clinton and Senate candidate Catherine Cortez Masto.

“You’ve got blackjack,” Obama told 3,000 packed into a local high school, with another 2,100 in an exterior courtyard.

Obama said that for years, Republican politicians and far right media outlets have served up “all kinds of crazy stuff” about him, Clinton and Sen. Harry Reid, the Nevadan who leads Senate Democrats and who is retiring. Obama cited questions about whether he was born in the U.S. and claims that he aimed to take away everybody’s guns.

“Is it any wonder that they ended up nominating somebody like Donald Trump?” Obama said. Trump, he said “just did what he always did, which is slap his name on it, take credit for it and promote it.”

Democrats need to pick up five seats to gain the majority in the Senate, or four if they hang onto control of the White House. The vice president casts tie-breaking votes in the Senate.

Polls indicate that the presidential and Senate races in Nevada are extremely tight. Reid’s seat is considered the only one Republicans could reasonably flip to their side this election. Outside groups have spent tens of millions of dollars trying to influence the outcome.

The White House has said that Obama’s primary mission in the next two weeks will be helping Clinton, but he will also use his appearances at campaign events and in television ads to support Democratic candidates up and down the ballot, even in some state legislative races.

Obama also tried to make life difficult for Republican candidates who have recently sought to distance themselves from the GOP nominee, and on Sunday, it was Rep. Joe Heck’s turn. Heck and Cortez Masto are vying to replace Reid.

After a 2005 video emerged of Trump making vulgar remarks about women, Heck said he couldn’t support Trump. But Obama said GOP candidates were simply reacting to Trump’s slipping poll numbers.

“Too late. You don’t get credit for that,” Obama said.

In California, Obama took aim at Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, who is in the fight of his career against political newcomer Doug Applegate. Issa represents a congressional district in the San Diego area.

Obama recalled that Issa had called his administration perhaps the most corrupt in history. Now, Obama said he was using the president’s photo on one of his brochures about how they had worked together on some issues.

“That is the definition of chutzpah,” Obama said.

He added that Issa spent his time trying to obstruct and feed the same sentiments that resulted in Trump’s candidacy. He said he recalled someone telling him: “Darrell Issa was Trump before Trump,” Obama said.

On Monday, Issa said he was disappointed but not surprised by Obama’s comments, arguing that the president “continues to deny accountability for the serious scandals that happened under his watch where Americans died overseas and veterans have died here at home.”

The eight-term Republican said he had worked with the administration “on good legislation where it was possible, and called out wrongdoing wherever I saw it, and will continue to do so.”

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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