President Barack Obama may end up playing a rather hands-off role in this fall's elections, a surprising turn for a political phenomenon who excited millions of voters just two years ago.
Recent elections have tarnished Obama's luster a bit, and Democratic candidates are likely to be selective in seeking his help.
Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania became the fourth Democrat in seven months to lose a high-profile race despite the president's active involvement. Specter's career-ending loss raises questions of whether Obama can transfer even small portions of the political charm that catapulted him to the White House.
Campaign strategists said Wednesday that many congressional Democrats seeking re-election this year will probably tap Obama to raise money, record ads for black radio stations and perhaps highlight a key issue or two. But some, and perhaps many, will not seek presidential visits, and they will emphasize their own roles on issues such as job-creation.
Obama's poor endorsement record thus far could hurt his legislative agenda if Democratic lawmakers decide they need some distance from him as they seek re-election in an anti-incumbent, anti-establishment climate. Conversely, it might embolden Republican lawmakers and candidates who oppose him.