Oregon isn't a presidential battleground state, which means it has been reduced, in the phrasing of The Oregonian's David Sarasohn, to the role of "campaign ATM."
President Obama made a pit stop in Portland today to appear at a pair of fundraisers. His plane's vapor trail lingered longer than he did. The national press corps was here long enough, though, to scarf down some VooDoo donuts.
Obama followed in the footsteps of Republican challenger Mitt Romney, who has visited Oregon twice to collect campaign cash. Romney stayed longer because he scheduled more fundraising events.
Neither candidate has staged a public event or submitted to an interview with local reporters to comment on issues of interest to Oregonians. Obama's visit was originally to include a grassroots event, but the shooting in Theater 9 in Colorado led to a schedule disruption. He did make a short stop at a breakfast place and visited with some veterans.
In previous election cycles, Oregon has been a state in play, attracting candidates from both major parties and often those from minor parties, such as the Green Party’s Ralph Nader. But the 2012 presidential election, so entertaining and unexpected in the GOP primary season, has turned into a predictable trench war targeting a shrinking number of undecided voters in a handful of battleground states.
The election may be a foregone conclusion before the major party nominating conventions officially select the candidates in late August and early September. Naturally, both nominating conventions are on the other side of the continent.
So far, Oregonians haven't complained much about the presidential political slight. One reason is they have been spared the annoyance and anger sparked by endless attack ads, many funded by shadowy groups with unknown donors.
It is true, the absence of presidential attention has meant our job-producing manufacturing sector has gone largely unnoticed at press conferences and photo opportunities, which could produce memory-making pictures for their company walls.
Political operatives are quick to assure Oregonians they haven't been forgotten or, for that matter, taken for granted. Our votes count, even if the political assumption is that they already have been cast.
While average citizens aren't pining for more presidential face-time, candidates and their campaign managers are busily trying to calculate what kind of campaign coat-tails they can count on between now and November. These days, those coat-tails take the tangible form of in-state staff, political coordination and efforts to activate the party faithful.
The biggest mark the Obama and Romney campaigns have left so far on Oregon is the traffic jams caused by their brief visits. Maybe somebody should suggest that the candidates skip further trips here and raise money on Facebook. We can catch what they say elsewhere on Twitter. That way we can avoid both the traffic jams and the attack ads. If we miss an important campaign episode, we can watch it later on YouTube.