Saturday 10 December 2016

Obama's last-ditch bid to stop Republican landslide

Toby Harnden in Chicago

Published 01/11/2010 | 05:00

President Barack Obama jokes with a reporter wearing a Halloween mask on Air Force One yesterday. He was returning from
Cleveland to Washington, where thousands gathered at the weekend for the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear led by comedians
Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert (top left). REUTERS
President Barack Obama jokes with a reporter wearing a Halloween mask on Air Force One yesterday. He was returning from Cleveland to Washington, where thousands gathered at the weekend for the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear led by comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert (top left). REUTERS

US President Barack Obama made a desperate bid to stave off a Republican landslide in tomorrow's mid-term elections by attempting to invoke the magic of the night he won the White House.

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He implored voters to "keep on believing" as he returned to Chicago at the weekend, where 200,000 people in Grant Park, cheered his historic victory on a balmy night two years earlier.

The president told a crowd of 20,000 at Midway Plaisance Park they needed to "keep on fighting" despite all the setbacks.

Democrats are almost certain to lose control of the House of Representatives and to suffer a string of defeats in Senate contests. Even Mr Obama's old Senate seat in Illinois is gravely threatened.

Negative

In a 33-minute speech, Mr Obama said: "I know that good feeling starts slipping away.

"And you talk to your friends who are out of work, you see somebody lose their home, and it gets you discouraged.

"And everything just feels negative. And maybe some of you, maybe you stop believing."

Democrats currently hold a 39-seat majority in the 435-member House of Representatives and a 10-seat majority in the 100-member Senate.

But polls indicate that the party will lose more than 50 seats in the House and at least six in the Senate.

Mr Obama was reduced to spending a valuable day on the campaign trail defending Democratic turf in his home state of Illinois, the third stop on a four-state tour before returning to Washington last night.

Alex Giannoulias, the Democratic candidate for the Senate, is narrowly behind Mr Kirk, a congressman.

Democrats might also lose the Illinois governorship. Given that Illinois is a long-time Democratic state, the loss of either race would be a significant symbolic blow to Mr Obama. Democrats are all but resigned to losing Senate seats in North Dakota, Indiana, Arkansas and Wisconsin, while failing to pick up seats in Ohio, New Hampshire, Missouri and Kentucky that once seemed within their grasp.

In addition, Mr Obama's party could well lose seats in Nevada, Colorado, Illinois and Pennsylvania.

If the Republican wave becomes an electoral tsunami exceeding that of 1994, when they gained 54 House seats during president Bill Clinton's tenure, then even Washington state and California could fall.

A weekend poll for CNN found that Republicans had a 10-point national lead over Democrats, higher than the seven-point advantage they enjoyed in 1994 when they captured both houses of Congress.

Much of the Republican enthusiasm is generated by small-government, anti-tax Tea Party candidates -- often critical of their own party establishment.

Even more disturbing for Mr Obama was a weekend ABC poll that found that 47pc of Democrats believed he should face a primary challenge in 2012, compared to 51pc who felt he should not.

Some supporters of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic favourite Mr Obama defeated in 2008, believe she should seek the party nomination in 2012.

Democratic leaders sought to portray the mid-terms as always delivering a defeat for the party that holds the White House and argued that big losses would not be an indictment of Mr Obama. (©Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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