Top Democratic candidates a no-show at Obama's Atlanta arrival

A host of Democratic dignitaries, including Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, were on hand to greet President Barack Obama upon his arrival here this afternoon. Missing from the tarmac: His party's top contenders for higher office.

Gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter and Senate hopeful Michelle Nunn were elsewhere as the president landed to talk about his administration's new efforts to combat the spread of Ebola.

Both Democratic campaigns say they weren’t on hand because Obama’s visit was an official one - no politicking was on his agenda - and that only top officeholders, like Reed, were invited to greet the president.

A more cynical take would also suggest that neither want to be tied to the White House weeks before the election. Nunn and Carter both appeared at a voter registration drive this month with Michelle Obama, but her husband is considerably less popular in Georgia.

ExploreAn Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll

released last week has the president’s approval rating at 38 percent - and his disapproval at 52 percent.

Gov. Nathan Deal’s campaign highlighted tweets Carter sent in 2013 welcoming Obama to town, as well as the Facebook post you see to the right. His spokeswoman Jen Talaber noted that he “doesn’t seem quite as excited to have his longtime friend” arrive now.

Carter spokesman Bryan Thomas, in a fit of snark, tweeted the below response:

And Better Georgia, the left-leaning group that backs Carter's bid, pointed out that Deal, the state's top Republican, is also conspicuously absent.