Though some Democrat candidates have been discreetly distancing themselves from the president, wary of losing independent voters, one contender took the split public today. Frank Caprio, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Rhode Island, lambasted Obama for declining to endorse Caprio's campaign — just hours before the president is due to arrive in Rhode Island to support other candidates. "[Obama] can take his endorsement and really shove it as far as I am concerned," Caprio told a Providence radio station. "I will take wear it as a badge of honor and a badge of courage that he doesn't want to endorse me as a Democrat." Is Caprio likely to benefit from his outburst? (Listen to Caprio's comments)
No. It will only fuel Caprio's opponent: Caprio is stuck in a close race with independent candidate Lincoln Chafee, who endorsed Obama in 2008 while he was a Republican senator, says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. You can see why Caprio's angry: "The Obama endorsement could have made a lot of difference in keeping Democrats in his corner." Instead, the president's "abstention" will seem like "support of Chafee." Obama had better hope Chafee wins, or "Rhode Island won't exactly be friendly territory in the 2012 campaign."
"Democrat tells Obama to 'take his endorsement and really shove it'"
This could be a smart tactical move: Caprio's statement could be a "calculated effort... to win the affections of center-right voters who are sour on Obama," says Ted Nesi at WPRI.com. Caprio "isn't known for spouting off" without thinking ahead. Whether such a gambit will work is uncertain — the president has a 70 percent approval rating in R.I. — but it has definitely drawn "attention away from Obama's visit" and made sure Caprio "was on offense in today's coverage, rather than defense."
"Why Caprio whacked Obama"
The real winner here is Republican congressional candidate, John Loughlin: While Obama pointedly did not endorse Caprio, says William A. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection, he did campaign for David Cicilline, the Democratic nominee for Rhode Island's congressional race. Independents view the unpopular Cicilline as a "real political inside player," so, as this shakes out and Cicilline absorbs some of the blame, the real benefactor could be Cicilline's GOP opponent, John Loughlin.
"Obama works the reverse-midas touch in Rhode Island"
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