Washington (AP) - President Barack Obama heads to
Democrats know that Sestak's chances of winning depend heavily on the party's ability to ramp up voter turnout in cities like
"I need everybody here to go back to your neighborhoods, and your workplaces, to your churches, and barbershops, and beauty shops," Obama told a Congressional Black Caucus dinner Saturday night. "Tell them we have more work to do. Tell them we can't wait to organize. Tell them that the time for action is now."
The relationship between the White House and Sestak has been a rocky one. Obama backed longtime Republican-turned-Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter in the primary contest that Sestak won earlier this year. The White House had tried to get Sestak to drop his challenge to Specter by offering him an unpaid presidential advisory position, an offer Sestak rejected.
Obama carried Pennsylvania during his White House run, but two years later, voters are angry at the sluggish economic recovery and could take their frustrations out on Democrats in November's balloting. Democrats see the Pennsylvania Senate seat as one that could not only determine which party holds the Senate majority, but also which way the key swing state might lean in 2012.
Several polls suggest Republican Pat Toomey, a former congressman and ex-head of the conservative Club for Growth, has a lead over Sestak. Republicans need to capture 10 Senate seats to win a majority. As many as a dozen held by Democrats appear competitive -- the
Obama's trip to
National parties and outside groups are also pouring money into the race.
Estimates from the campaigns suggest that these groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Club for Growth and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, have already spent $6 million to $7 million on TV ads since July. The airwaves are blanketed with ads blaming Toomey for the economic meltdown or accusing Sestak of recklessly raising taxes and the national debt.
Before his fundraisers for Sestak, Obama will participate in a CNBC town-hall discussion of jobs at