White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a press briefing Wednesday that President Barack Obama is "committed to strongly supporting" Patrick Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign in Florida -- but the White House won't weigh in on how national Democratic groups should spend their money helping Murphy versus other U.S. Senate candidates.
Between early September and mid-October, the Senate Majority super PAC and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee pulled $16 million in planned TV ad spending the groups had reserved to fortify Murphy's campaign this fall against Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.
The decisions came as Murphy gained little, if any, ground on Rubio in September, causing the Democrats to re-direct their resources to other competitive -- and potentially more winnable -- Senate contests elsewhere.
But in the past two weeks, Murphy's campaign picked up steam again.
Recent polls show the race very close. And Murphy has gotten vocal praise from both Obama and Hillary Clinton during their recent visits to Florida, which has helped Murphy's name ID and his support among the Democratic base.
But the Democrats' money hasn't returned -- and if it did, the ad time would be vastly more expensive than before.
Some Democratic leaders are questioning the DSCC's earlier decision to withdraw from Florida and not more aggressively help Murphy unseat Rubio, according to a story by Politico on Tuesday.
When Earnest was asked Wednesday whether Obama had an opinion on if Democrats should do as much as they can to take out Rubio (and consequently help Murphy), Earnest said: "I can tell you that President Obama is traveling down to Florida because he believes that Congressman Murphy is the right person to represent the state of Florida in the United States Senate. And he will reiterate that case once again on Friday in Orlando."
"The president feels strongly about the race," Earnest added. "When it comes to the strategy that's implemented by the DSCC, those are decisions for them to make. But the president is -- is certainly committed to strongly supporting Congressman Murphy's campaign and is optimistic about his prospects."
McClatchy D.C. reporter Lesley Clark contributed to this report.
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