President Barack Obama, doing his part to help keep a Democrat in charge of New Jersey, came to Hackensack, NJ, today to urge voters to re-elect Gov. Jon Corzine. Obama, who remains popular among New Jersey Democrats, spoke at a rally at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s campus in Hackensack. It’s his second campaign appearance in the Garden State for Corzine, the only incumbent governor facing re-election on Nov. 3.Recent polls show Corzine tied with Republican Chris Christie, who had enjoyed double-digit leads.
It’s Obama’s second political trip of the week as the 2009 campaign season draws to a close, part of a blitz by the president to help raise money and rally loyalists for the off-year elections.
Democrats face the prospect of losing hard-fought gubernatorial races in Virginia and perhaps New Jersey, two contests that, to a degree, are shaping up as a test of Obama’s political strength.
Obama took to the stump Monday night in New York City, helping raise as much as $3 million for the Democratic Party along with an unspecified sum for Bill Owens, the Democrat in a special congressional election in upstate New York. John McHugh, the Republican who had held the seat, stepped down to become Obama’s Army secretary.
On Friday, the president heads to New England to attend fundraisers for Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who is up for re-election in 2010, and Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, also seeking another term next year.
Next Tuesday, Obama is scheduled to stump in Norfolk, Va., for Democrat Creigh Deeds, who is trailing in the race for Virginia governor.
Obama’s appearance Wednesday in support of Corzine follows campaign visits to New Jersey this week by Vice President Joe Biden and former President Bill Clinton.
Corzine’s campaign said 3,500 people would be allowed inside the campus gymnasium for the rally.
Terence Kitchings, a church music director from Paterson, beamed at the prospect of seeing Obama in person for the first time.
“I know what he’s like on television; it’ll be magical to see him this close,” said Kitchings, who wore an Obama pin on his baseball cap and had staked out a position about 35 feet from the stage.
Obama last stumped for Corzine in July at a rally in Holmdel, N.J.