Sticking to his knitting?

The Hill - Some Hill Dems won't endorse Obama - The presidential race may be topic A, B and C in Washington these days, but some people are just too busy to think about it — particularly, it seems, centrist Democrats from conservative districts, who aren’t exactly eager to align themselves with Sen. Barack Obama. Rep. Travis Childers, elected just weeks ago in a Mississippi special election, hasn’t endorsed anyone in the presidential race yet. “We have had our head down at work, trying to get our feet on the ground up here,” said Childers’ chief of staff, Brad Morris. “The presidential politics just has not been on our mind.”

Capitol Hill Blue - Some Dems hesitant about Obama - Nothing personal, Sen. Obama, but our re-election comes first. Barack Obama, for all his attention and primary successes, does not go over so well in a fair number of Democratic lawmakers' home districts. So it seems there is little chance that some will endorse him for president.

Some are counting on Republican votes in their re-election bids. Some are newly minted and in rematches with 2006 opponents. Some may be wary of how their constituents will react to a black presidential candidate. Some, too, have made it a practice of distancing themselves from the national party, fearing the inevitable campaign ad that has their face morphing into Howard Dean, the party chairman, and Obama. "They are all scared to death about getting beat by a Republican," said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., one of Obama's most prominent supporters. "I don't think that if the good Lord himself had been nominated as a Democrat that some of those folks would have endorsed him. They are afraid of looking too much like a Democrat because of the kind of districts they're from."

Republican campaign strategists already have shown they want to link Democratic candidates with Obama and other national figures, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's former pastor. In special elections last month in Mississippi and Louisiana, Democratic candidates Travis Childers and Don Cazayoux faced television ads attempting to make those connections. But Childers and Cazayoux won surprise victories, raising questions about the strategy's effectiveness. Still, Childers is staying out of the presidential race, as is his fellow Mississippi Democrat Gene Taylor. Cazayoux recently announced he is backing Obama.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, a Democratic House leader who helped orchestrate the party's strategy for winning control of Congress in 2006, argues against reading too much into the holdouts. He said most of them always stay out of national politics and that the party is generally unified around Obama. "They're just going to stick to their knitting," he said. "It's not that they're anti-Obama."

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