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Strategy for some Democrats ahead of midterm: Target President Obama

Usually it’s Republicans who are assailing President Obama.

But some Democrats vying for U.S. Senate in states that traditionally vote Republican have followed suit, making Obama the subject of negative advertising less than two months before election day.

In a TV ad released Monday, Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes proclaims she’s “not President Obama” -- as she is shown skeet-shooting in a lush pasture.

“I disagree with him on guns, coal and the EPA,” says Grimes, who is vying to unseat Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

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It’s a message she’s had to repeat often in an effort to distance herself from a president whose approval rating in the Bluegrass State is 31%, according to a recent NBC/Marist poll. Obama lost the state by double digits in 2012 to Republican Mitt Romney, and McConnell has tried mightily to tie the Democratic candidate to her party’s president.

Like Lundergan Grimes, first-term Democratic Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska is also trying to avoid the albatross of the president. In a television ad unveiled Monday, Begich emphasized areas where he has challenged the president, including pressing the Obama administration to allow drilling in the Arctic.

The decision to seek distance from an unpopular standard-bearer is time-honored. In Obama’s case, the 2010 midterm election featured West Virginia Senate candidate Joe Manchin using his rifle to shoot a copy of the 2009 cap-and-trade bill supported by Obama.

“I sued EPA and I’ll take dead aim at the cap-and-trade bill,” said Manchin, a Democrat, before firing a single shot through the manuscript. (Manchin won.)

Still, for all the discontent with Obama from party candidates in competitive races, the Democratic National Committee announced Monday that Obama will speak in several radio ads targeting minority voters, who are among the president’s most loyal backers.

“The ads don’t focus on specific candidates but remind voters who would likely vote Democratic that there is an election in November,” DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz told the Associated Press. Female, Latino and African American voters are among the party’s biggest targets as November approaches, since their voting rates typically fall dramatically during midterm elections.

Follow @kurtisalee and email kurtis.lee@latimes.com


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