BOSTON (CBS) – The president is coming to town Wednesday to campaign for Senate candidate Ed Markey, and as always, he’ll encounter a friendly crowd in a state where his approval rating remains very high even as it slumps elsewhere.

And despite the claim of some pundits that the visit might actually backfire on Markey, I seriously doubt it. Consolidating and exciting the core Democratic vote is crucial for Markey, and Mr. Obama will surely provide that.

But as we saw three years ago, when the president came to Boston just two days before the Senate special to try to boost Martha Coakley, there are limits to how much he can do.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

Back then, Mr. Obama spent much of his speech ridiculing Scott Brown’s truck, urging voters to not be “fooled” by his everyman appeal, as if voters taken with the idea of electing a fresh face who they agreed with on some key issues were easily misled dupes.

The president will rally the faithful today, but for independents and the independent-minded, it’s always vaguely depressing to see him spouting partisan rah-rah at events like this. What so many liked about him from the start was his appeal to something higher than partisanship.

And whatever Ed Markey’s merits, it’s hard for anyone, including the president, to spin him as the face of the future.

If anything, I suspect many independents will see the president’s visit as another sour note in this campaign, just as Sen. John McCain’s visit last month in support of Gabriel Gomez didn’t exactly enhance Gomez’s preferred image as an anti-Washington outsider.

McCain is popular here, but in the end he’s just another Washington figure with little real connection to our concerns.

The president carries more cache, but not much more. The non-partisans among us want less partisanship, not more.

So while his audience Wednesday will no doubt be thrilled, for the rest of us, not so much.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.


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