President Barack Obama was barely out of the Capitol after delivering his State of the Union address Tuesday before members of his own party began distancing themselves from the president.
In an interview with CNN after the speech, Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, one of the most vulnerable Democrats up for reelection this year, took aim at Obama’s focus on using executive actions to go around Congress. “I’ll be anxious to see what these executive orders are,” he said. “But if they go too far you’ll clearly hear push back from me. There’s no question about it.”
Begich also criticized Obama on energy, objecting to his calls to end oil and gas tax incentives and opposition to opening up more of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. He added that he has no interest in campaigning with Obama, but is open to showing Obama why his policies are wrong.
“When I ran and won was the same year he ran for his first election for the presidency, he lost Alaska by 22 points,” Begich said. “I still won my election. If he wants to come up, I’m not really interested in campaigning. What I’d like him to do is see why his policies are wrong on ANWR for example. He opposes oil and gas development. I’d like to show him why it’s the right move to move that forward to create jobs in oil and gas.”
Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor said in a statement that he was disappointed with Obama for not striking a bipartisan tone.
“Overall, I’m disappointed with the President’s State of the Union address because he was heavy on rhetoric, but light on specifics about how we can move our country forward,” he said. “…I’ve always said that I’ll work with the President when I think he’s right, but oppose him when I think he’s wrong. That’s why I’ve opposed his policies on gun control, the Keystone Pipeline, military action in Syria, regulatory overreach on our farms—to name a few—and why I’ll continue to oppose his agenda when it’s bad for Arkansas and our country.”
Even before Obama’s speech, Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu blasted the White House’s opposition to delaying an increase in flood insurance premiums.
Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, in a separate interview with CNN after Obama’s remarks, repeatedly refused to say whether he would campaign with the president this year. “We’ll see what the president’s schedule is,” he said. “We’ll see what my schedule is. But Coloradans are going to reelect me based on my record, not on the president’s record.”
Obama’s post-speech roadshow conspicuously excludes any state where vulnerable Democratic incumbents are up for reelection. And in Wisconsin, where Democrat Mary Burke is trying to unseat Gov. Scott Walker this fall, the candidate is avoiding Obama’s scheduled appearance on Thursday. Earlier this month, North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan avoided an appearance with Obama in her home state.