Vice President Joe Biden has been warning Democratic supporters this week that his party could lose control of the Senate next year -- and if Democrats lose the Senate, they may lose the White House as well.
At a set of fundraisers on Wednesday for Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, Biden made clear that the administration's fate is tied to Nelson's.
"As goes Bill Nelson in Florida, go Barack Obama and Joe Biden in Florida," Biden said in Orlando.
Earlier in the week, Biden signed an email the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sent to its supporters, pointing out that Democrats are defending 23 Senate seats in 2012, five of which are open. Republicans only need to pick up four to take control of the Senate.
"I am writing to you today because at a moment when the stakes are highest, Democrats in the Senate face the toughest electoral climate we've seen in a long time," Biden said in the email.
Florida is not the only state where the administration's success in 2012 will likely correspond to the success Democrats have in defending their Senate seats. First-term Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri is currently thein the Senate. Republican Presidential candidate John McCain just barely came out on top in Missouri over Mr. Obama in 2008.
Other Democrats defending their seats in swing states (though not necessarily the most vulnerable Democrats) include Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. A new Quinnipiac poll shows Brown in decent shape as he heads into 2012, but the National Republican Senatorial Committee released a statement this morning saying, "It's striking that after more than four years in the U.S. Senate and without even a Republican opponent yet in the race, 55 percent of Ohio voters are not supporting Sherrod Brown for re-election."
The NRSC has taken aim at Brown and Stabenow over the last month after the National Journal ranked them as the Senate's "most liberal" members -- a label Biden on Wednesday seemingly wanted to disassociate with Nelson.
"Every election time opponents (of Nelson) trot out the same tired slogan: 'he's a liberal,'" Biden said in Tampa with Nelson at his side, according to pool reports. "You know why it never works? Because this guy, more than almost anybody I've ever worked with is about common sense and common ground."
While shunning the "liberal" label, Biden did draw a clear distinction between the Obama administration's interest in using government spending to make investments for the future -- such as the high speed rail project Florida's Republican governor nixed -- and the Republican philosophy of cutting spending.
In Tampa, Biden criticized Republicans for wanting to "cut our way out of a recession."
"It's never happened before," he said. "These guys remind me of the Know Nothing Party of the 19th century. Then it was about religion, now it's about the economy."