President Barack Obama has cut his first ad in support of Sen. Blanche Lincoln's re-election campaign, urging Arkansans to back the incumbent Senator for her work on two policy topics that have become focal points of her primary campaign.
In a personally-narrated radio spot, Obama paints Lincoln as a populist crusader who is "leading the fight to hold Wall Street accountable and make sure that Arkansas taxpayers are never again asked to bail out Wall Street bankers."
"On health care," Obama adds, "Blanche took on big insurance companies by voting to end discrimination against Arkansans with preexisting conditions and fought for tax credits that will help thousands of local small businesses provide insurance to their employees."
The ad represents a ramped-up effort on the part of the Democratic establishment to help pull Lincoln past the May 18 primary challenge by Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. On Monday, former President Bill Clinton cut an ad for Lincoln as well, in which he defended her vote for NAFTA and his 1993 stimulus plan.
In both spots the object seems to be shoring up an area considered Lincoln's weakness. Halter has repeatedly brought up Lincoln's vote in favor of TARP as evidence that she's got a soft spot for the financial industry. Her support of NAFTA has been mentioned frequently as well. Halter allies in the labor community, meanwhile, have pointed to the Senator's role in watering down health care reform as a reason to organized behind her ouster from office.
On Tuesday, one of those aggrieved groups -- the Progressive Change Campaign Committee -- announced that they had raised $100,000 for Halter's Democratic primary challenge.
Laura Chapin, a spokesperson for Halter, responded to the ads with the following statement:
"President Clinton endorsed before Lt. Governor Halter announced he was entering the race, and has said very nice things about Lt. Governor Halter, which he certainly appreciates."
And the White House traditionally endorses incumbents, so the endorsement of an incumbent Senator in this case is not a surprise.