Saturday 21 September 2019

President targets vulnerable seats in last-ditch campaign blitz as Obama urges voters not to be 'hoodwinked'

On stage: President Donald Trump with his daughter Ivanka as she speaks during a campaign rally at the IX Centre, in Cleveland. Photo: AP
On stage: President Donald Trump with his daughter Ivanka as she speaks during a campaign rally at the IX Centre, in Cleveland. Photo: AP

Ben Riley-Smith

US President Donald Trump yesterday went on an election-eve campaign blitz, holding three rallies targeting vulnerable Democrats in a bid to help the Republican party cling on to its majority in the Senate.

With the US voting today for the first time since the 2016 election, the president scheduled campaign stops in Ohio, Indiana and Missouri in a last-minute push for votes.

All three have Democrat senators fighting for re-election in states that Mr Trump won two years ago, and his late interventions could tip the balance in his party's favour. A string of polls published before the midterm elections told a similar story - the Democrats look likely to win a majority in the House of Representatives while Republicans should keep their hold on the Senate.

Forecasters urged caution, citing the notoriously poor polling predictions of 2016, and noting that a string of extremely close races and the possibility of record turnouts all make the results difficult to call.

Mr Trump has thrown himself into the campaign, holding more events than his predecessors Barack Obama and George W Bush did while in office and urging voters to imagine his name was on the ballot. However, the decision to make himself the face of his party's national campaign comes with risks, not least the lack of someone else to blame if results do not go his way.

Speaking to reporters in the White House, Mr Trump struck an upbeat tone before embarking on his last day of campaigning. "There's a great electricity in the air like we haven't seen - in my opinion - since the 2016 election," Mr Trump said. "We'll see, but I think we're going to do very well."

The US president has turned up the dial on warnings about illegal immigration in recent weeks, believing that the issue motivates his base and will drive up turnout.

He has likened caravans of migrants walking to the US from Central America to an "invasion", and has deployed more than 5,000 US soldiers to the southern border, as well as suggesting he could temporarily shut the crossing entirely.

The tactic appears to have had an impact, with the number of Republicans saying immigration is one of the most important issues jumping from 14pc to 21pc in three weeks, according to a 'Washington Post'-ABC News poll.

However, some Republicans fear Mr Trump's hardline rhetoric could act as a deterrent to floating voters. Barack Obama, the former president, re-emerged to lead the Democrat charge, breaking with his largely observed silence on Mr Trump.

In a series of emotional speeches, he urged voters not to be "hoodwinked" by the Trump administration's migrant caravan warnings, saying: "While they are trying to distract you with all this stuff, they are robbing you blind."

As well as all House of Representative seats and a third of Senate seats being up for grabs, a string of statewide governorships and other offices are being contested.

The results will be announced overnight.

Telegraph.co.uk

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