WASHINGTON — Loyalists, operatives, and leaders of the two major political parties will convene in Tampa and Charlotte, N.C., in the coming weeks for the biggest, most high-profile political events of the summer: the nominating conventions for their presidential candidates.
But for dozens of congressional candidates, both Republicans and Democrats, the smart political calculation is to stay away.
Some plead scheduling conflicts with their campaigns or their children. Others say the meetings are too time-consuming or too far.
The common thread tying the convention-skippers together is that each is locked in a tight race, and some distance from their parties, their nominees, and Congress may improve their chances of winning.
Among those staying away from the GOP’s gathering in Tampa is Virginia Senate candidate George Allen, who faces former governor Timothy Kaine in one of the nation’s most closely watched races.
‘‘Since we are locked in a close race and can’t be in two places at once, the focus will continue to be listening and meeting with Virginia families, veterans, and small business leaders,’’ said Allen spokeswoman Emily Davis.
A spokeswoman said Kaine plans to go to his party’s meeting in Charlotte.
But so far, more Democrats than Republicans are opting out of their convention, leading GOP officials to suggest that vulnerable Democrats are trying to avoid President Obama.
Paul Lindsay, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, joked in an e-mail that ‘‘more people were lined up to see today’s matinee of ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’” — a movie with lackluster ticket sales — ‘‘than the number of Democrats willing to be seen with President Obama in Charlotte.’’
Representative Nick Rahall of West Virginia is among those who faced a choice. ‘‘I’m a Democrat; I don’t forget from whence I come,’’ he said. ‘‘But I have made plans to campaign hard in my district starting Labor Day and right on through.’’
Rahall, who has voiced support for the president, faces a difficult campaign against Republican Rick Snuffer in a state where a Texas prison inmate got 41 percent of the vote in a Democratic primary challenge to Obama.
Among Senate candidates, the absence of Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, may be the most notable. She was an early Obama supporter in 2008, but her approval rating is stuck in the 40s, and she’s running dead even with potential GOP opponents, so she plans to campaign aboard an RV and avoid Charlotte.
On Monday, McCaskill told Missouri reporters that the president supports her decision to hit the trail instead of going to Charlotte: ‘‘He thinks it’s the right thing to do. The notion that I would be out hobnobbing with donors at cocktail parties after Labor Day rather than here in Missouri fighting — if the Republicans think I’m that dumb, they’ve got me confused with somebody else.’’
Service members become citizens at White House
WASHINGTON — President Obama marked the 236th birthday of the United States of America by welcoming 25 members of the military as they took the oath to become citizens.
“I could not be prouder to be among the first to greet you as ‘my fellow Americans,’” the president said at a naturalization ceremony at the White House. “It reminds us that we are a country that is bound together not simply by ethnicity or bloodlines, but by fidelity to a set of ideas.”
Members of the US military from 17 countries, all currently on active duty, took their citizenship oath in the East Room. The government permits noncitizens to enlist in the US armed forces and assists them in navigating the application process toward citizenship.
“All of you did something profound: You put on the uniform of a country that was not yet fully your own, in a time of war,” Obama said. “You displayed the values that we celebrate every Fourth of July: duty, responsibility, and patriotism.”
Four of the new Americans are from the Philippines; three from Russia; two each from El Salvador, Colombia, and Guatemala; and one each from Nigeria, China, Cape Verde Islands, Mexico, Bolivia, Honduras, Guinea, Cameroon, Ukraine, Palau, Ecuador, and Ghana.
Obama said immigrants signed their names to the Declaration of Independence, helped lay railroads and build cities, took up arms, pioneered industries, and helped fuel the Information Age.
“The story of immigrants in America isn’t a story of them; it’s a story of us,” he said. “It’s who we are. And now all of you get the write the next chapter.”