Obama, Biden ramp up fundraising push for Dems

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WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama and top Democrats are ramping up their 2014 fundraising push, hoping to give a boost to fellow Democrats competing in November's midterm elections.

Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and first lady Michelle Obama will all pitch in over the coming weeks, as candidates and party committees seek to stockpile as much cash as possible before major spending on campaign ads begins. For Obama, whose lackluster poll numbers make him a liability for many Democratic candidates, raising money is one of the most effective ways he can help his party in 2014.

Obama's first fundraiser of the year will come on Feb. 28, when he takes part in a round-table discussion in Washington. The next week, the president will travel to Boston, where he'll headline another round-table and a dinner.

Biden will travel to Minnesota on Feb. 19 for a fundraiser at a Minneapolis restaurant owned by the sons of Gov. Mark Dayton, D-Minn. The following day, Mrs. Obama will host her own fundraiser in New York.

All of the events will benefit the Democratic National Committee, which is still paying off more than $15 million in debt more than a year after helping Obama get re-elected. The DNC brought in close to $65 million in 2013, but was outraised by the Republican National Committee.

The fundraisers were described by Democratic officials who demanded anonymity because the events haven't been formally announced.

Preserving Democratic control of the Senate and gaining seats in the House is a major priority for Obama, whose prospects for moving his agenda forward during his final two years in office rest heavily on the results of November's election. Traditionally, a president's party loses seats during his sixth year in office, but Democrats are hoping to buck that trend.

"The president is going to assist Democrats in every way that he can," White House spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday.

In many cases, that assistance may not extend to presidential appearances on the campaign trail, which could do more harm than good for Democrats in conservative-leaning states where Obama is unpopular. "I don't need him campaigning for me," Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, said this week.

Democratic officials are still hashing out the details for what other campaign events Obama and other White House officials will hold this year, including fundraisers to benefit the committees that work to elect Democratic Senate and House candidates. But Biden has already committed to raising money next week in Florida for congressional candidate Alex Sink. That fundraiser will take place at the home of Michael Adler, a longtime Democratic donor who was finance chairman for Biden's 2008 presidential campaign.

Obama, Biden and the first lady held dozens of fundraisers last year in cities across the country, bringing in millions of dollars for the party. Obama and Biden also rallied supporters on the campaign trail ahead of key elections in Virginia, Massachusetts and New York.


Reach Josh Lederman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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