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Archive for Sunday, October 31, 2010

Obama warns of progress reversal if GOP wins

October 31, 2010

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— President Barack Obama made a final-weekend plea to his hometown supporters to defy expectations and tamp down a Republican tide that many people expect to crest in Tuesday’s elections.

“Chicago, it’s up to you to let them know that we have not forgotten, we don't have amnesia,” the president told a large outdoor crowd near his home, referring to the economic recession that hit during George W. Bush’s presidency. “This election is a choice between policies that got us into this mess and the policies that are starting to lead us out of this mess.”

But going back to greater GOP control would be just fine, said Rep. John Boehner, in line to become the new speaker if Republicans take the House, as expected. He declared, “Americans are demanding a new way forward in Washington.”

Embarking on a four-state weekend campaign dash, Obama acknowledged the difficulties Democrats face — the distinct chance of losing their comfortable majority in the House and possibly the Senate, as well as several governors’ seats.

All four weekend stops are in states Obama carried in 2008 — Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Illinois and Ohio. But Democratic candidates for the Senate, House and governorships are struggling in these places and elsewhere, and Obama is making a last-ditch plea for the party’s core supporters not to abandon them.

“It is difficult here in Pennsylvania, it is difficult all across the country,” Obama told several hundred campaign volunteers at Temple University in Philadelphia, a Democratic-leaning city he has visited often.

The weekend tour marks the president’s last campaign swing of the election season. His sagging popularity has limited his ability to save Democratic candidates, and his legislative agenda may be deeply complicated if the GOP takes over the House and/or Senate.

Unless Democratic voters turn out in big numbers, Obama said in a seven-minute talk at Temple, all the progress made in the past two years “can be rolled back.”

Several of Pennsylvania’s U.S. House Democrats are battling for survival, as is the Senate nominee, Joe Sestak.

Republicans expect to win the governor’s seat, as two-term Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell is term-limited.

Democratic prospects appear somewhat better in Connecticut, Obama’s second stop. The party has high hopes for Senate nominee Richard Blumenthal and gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy, although neither race is considered in the bag.

But freshman Rep. Jim Himes faces a tough challenge from Republican Dan Debicella, and organizers allowed Himes to introduce Obama to loud applause from more than 9,000 people at the Bridgeport Arena.

Obama urged Democrats to “defy the conventional wisdom” that foresees huge GOP wins.

He did not mention the thwarted mail bomb plot or the arrest in Yemen of a woman suspected of sending two mail bombs.

Obama is to headline a final rally today in Cleveland before returning to Washington for Halloween with his family.

Candidates were everywhere on Saturday, making last-weekend pitches for support.

Party stars were out in force, too.

Former President Bill Clinton, campaigning for Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland’s re-election, called the Republican pledge “a joke.” He said, “Their deal sounds good but it doesn’t work. ... Our ideas work better than theirs.”

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