Politics

Mission To Midterms: Obama Uses Apollo 11 Team As Campaign Prop

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

Forty-five years after landing on the Moon, Apollo 11 has landed again, right in the middle of President Barack Obama’s partisan 2014 campaign.

Apollo 11 was dragged down by the gravity of Obama’s political peril, because polls shows the Senate is likely to flip into Republican control.

Apollo’s reappearance came one day after Obama’s deputies imposed a media blackout on a brief Oval Office visit by two of the three moon-landing astronauts, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.

The third astronaut who landed on the moon in 1969, Neil Armstrong, died in 2012, and was represented by his wife at the private meeting Tuesday with Obama.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest refused to explain or apologize for the media’s exclusion from the newsworthy event.

Obama ultimately used the visit to help him woo Democratic donors ahead of the 2014 midterms.

“Sometimes when you’re watching the news… it can get depressing, right? It can feel as if, oh, nothing is working and everything is a crisis,” Obama told his donors at a fundraiser in Seattle, Washington Wednesday.

But Americans must overcome their cynicism about politics, and renew their optimism, Obama said.

“Because of this extraordinary impulse in all of us to imagine and dream something better, and then work for it and not give up, and be persistent and pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off after setbacks, and being willing to endure skeptics and naysayers — because of that spirit, we’ve been able to make enormous changes,” he said.

So that’s when Obama pulled out the Apollo 11 card.

“This week was the 45th anniversary of man landing on the moon [and] I had Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins and the wife of Neil Armstrong into the White House yesterday,” Obama said.

“And I thought about how when I was six, seven, eight years old, sitting on my grandfather’s shoulder in Hawaii as the capsules were brought back from the Apollo launches, nobody went to the moon because they were skeptics.  Naysayers didn’t send anybody to the moon.  That singular moment in human history, that happened because of that spirit.  And that spirit has to translate in our politics as well,” he said.

“That’s why you’re here [at the fundraiser].  That’s why we’ve got to get to work.  That’s why I ran for president.  And if we allow that spirit to live, nothing can stop us,” Obama said.

“Thank you, everybody.  Appreciate you. (Applause.),” says the official transcript.

In February 1969, shortly before Apollo landed, a huge Soviet moon-rocket blew up on the launch pad.

Follow Neil on Twitter