By Julia O'Donoghue, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
on November 07, 2013 at 4:28 PM, updated November 07, 2013 at 4:30 PM
When President Barack Obama appears at the Port of New Orleans tomorrow, he won't be joined by Louisiana's only statewide elected Democrat, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
Landrieu will travel with Obama to New Orleans on the president's plane, Air Force One, but she doesn't plan to attend his speech about boosting exports. The U.S. Senator has a long-standing engagement in Lake Charles that takes place at the same time and she can't be in both places at once, staff said.
Her absence at Obama's public appearance in Louisiana this year could raise some questions. Landrieu is expected to face a tough re-election campaign in 2014, and some wonder whether she prefers not to stand side by side with a president who lost her home state by nearly 18 points in 2012. Obama's approval rating also dipped to just under 40 percent in a new poll released this week.
"I have a hard time seeing how her appearing with the President really helps her out enough to make it worth her while," said Geoff Skelley, with the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, which tracks congressional races around the country.
Others said Landrieu appearing with Obama could actually hurt her campaign. U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, who is running against Landrieu, would likely use any photo of the president and senator together in attack advertisements next year.
"I think any image of her with him would be used by Cassidy over and over and over again," said Kirby Goidel, director of the Public Policy Research Center at LSU. "If I were on the Cassidy team, I would try to turn her into Barack Obama."
"If the race can be nationalized, that is when she is at her most vulnerable," he said.