Politico referred to Barack Obama as "the closer" in its Thursday edition of "Playbook" as the former president prepares to hit the campaign trail for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam (D.).
Obama will headline a rally in Richmond, Va. next Thursday on behalf of Virginia's lieutenant governor, who's locked in a battle with former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie.
The nickname is a curious one given the heavy losses the Democratic Party sustained during his presidency, however.
BRINGING IN THE CLOSER — "Former President Barack Obama to campaign for Ralph Northam in Richmond," by Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Andrew Cain: "Obama will return to the campaign trail next Thursday to stump for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ralph Northam at a rally in Richmond. … Northam tweeted ‘Fired up, ready to go!’ and provided a link through his campaign website where supporters can R.S.V.P. for a ticket at RalphNortham.com/Obama."
When he was elected to the presidency in 2008, Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress, 59 percent of state legislatures and 29 governorships. By the end of Obama's two terms, however, the Democrats lost the House, Senate and the White House, held just 31 percent of state legislatures and held only 16 governorships.
Obama hit the campaign trail hard for Hillary Clinton in 2016, arguing passionately that Donald Trump was manifestly unfit for office and Clinton had to win to continue the progress made under his administration.
Michelle Obama was also coined "The Closer" in a Nov. 5 article about her campaign trail assistance to Clinton.
"Reluctant at first to engage in partisan politics, and conflicted when her husband decided to seek the presidency, Mrs. Obama has, almost in spite of herself, evolved into a powerful presence on the campaign trail," the Times wrote.
Trump defeated Clinton three days later, and the GOP retained the control of the House and Senate it wrestled from the Democrats in 2010 and 2014. Obama held high approval ratings at the end of his presidency, but struggled to elevate the rest of his party.
Northam has held a consistent polling lead over Gillespie in the bid to replace Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D.), who cannot run for re-election as an incumbent per state term limit rules.
However, Democratic sources told The Daily Beast that Northam's internal polling places the race within the margin of error, and there has been a lack of national enthusiasm for the lieutenant governor in the crucial race.
Virginia is the only southern state Clinton won in 2016.