HEAVY-HANDED - AT 8:48 P.M. ET: New York is an Obama stronghold. He could probably be elected king here. The academics fawn over him, the intellectuals hang on his words, the minorities all claim him.
Maybe that's why the president thought he could get away with a stunt that is raising Democratic eyebrows even New York. He has interfered with an upcoming election to the U.S. Senate, something presidents just don't do. From Fox News:
If President Obama didn't have enough on his plate already, he's now thrust himself into the middle of a statewide race that has sparked growing resentment among some New York Democrats.
Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) asked Obama to implore Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) against challenging New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in the Democratic primary next year, FOX News has learned.
Israel was poised to announce his candidacy until the president intervened with a Friday afternoon phone call in an effort to clear the field for Gillibrand, a source told FOX News, calling the move "messy."
It's rare for a president to inject himself into statewide politics. And a host of New York political insiders with ties to several House Democrats say they're angry that the president even got involved.
"What? You can't have a primary? It's decided in backroom deals?" asked a source who spoke to FOX News on the condition of anonymity. "What if someone told Obama he couldn't have a primary and Hillary (Clinton) would just be the nominee? Where would he be? It's an outrage."
"I can't imagine why (Obama) would do this," said one source, referring to the president's request to Israel to step aside. "I am sure that it will upset many (New York) delegation members."
COMMENT: This is heavy-handed stuff, and the fact is that Obama didn't ask other potential contenders to stay out. The whole incident is shrouded in mystery. We have an enterprising reporter in New York named Fred Dicker, who works for the New York Post. I suspect he'll get to the root of the story. But the palpable anger toward Obama in the New York delegation is startling.
Why is Gillibrand that important? Most people in New York don't even know her, even though she was appointed to the Senate to replace Hillary Clinton. Does she know something? Was some deal made?
We'll follow this. Presidents don't normally call congressmen, asking them not to run for another office.
May 16, 2009