Barack who? Democrats turn their backs on 'pariah' Obama
Al Gore, the former US vice-president, has become the most prominent Democrat to campaign ahead of next month's mid-term elections without mentioning President Barack Obama, the man who so inspired the party in 2008.
Kendrick Meek, the Democratic candidate for the US Senate, also neglected to let Mr Obama's name pass his lips during an appearance with Mr Gore in a union hall in Florida.
Instead, the congressman lauded "President Gore" -- a reference to the 2000 election, when hanging chads in Florida and the Supreme Court cost the Democrat the White House.
With their party facing a possible landslide defeat in next month's elections, Democratic candidates are running away from Mr Obama and his record. Polls indicate the Democrats will lose control of the House of Representatives and perhaps the Senate, a result that could cripple the Obama presidency.
In Tampa, neither Mr Gore nor Mr Meek made direct reference to Mr Obama's historic health-care legislation or the financial bailout. Both are unpopular with all but hardcore Democratic supporters.
Two years ago, every Democrat in the country was invoking Mr Obama's name as they hoped to ride on his coat-tails to electoral victory. This year, he is a near-pariah, with many doing everything they can to distance themselves from him. Whether the tactic will work is unclear.
Florida is a key battleground state, most famously in 2000 when George W Bush prevailed over Mr Gore by 537 votes. But this year, Mr Meek is trailing badly in a three-horse race. Marco Rubio, the Republican candidate, has a seemingly unassailable 13-point lead, according to a Quinnipiac University poll. Governor Charlie Crist, a centrist, is on 33 points, with Mr Meek at just 18.
Sidestepping the current occupant of the Oval Office, Mr Meek hailed Mr Gore and former president Bill Clinton as "stellar" figures.
The only hope Mr Meek has of winning is to persuade Democrats that Mr Crist can't win, prompting them to move to him. It is a tall order in the space of a month when national party cash is being funnelled into races that are much closer. (© Daily Telegraph, London)