President Joe Biden warned that a Republican victory in Tuesday’s midterm elections could weaken US democracy, while former President Donald Trump hinted at another White House bid two days before votes that could give Republicans control of the administration. both houses of Congress.
The comments, made at dueling rallies in New York and Florida, underscored the bleak prospects for Biden’s Democrats despite making good on promises to promote clean energy incentives and rebuild crumbling roads and bridges.
Republicans have blasted Biden for high inflation and rising crime following the COVID-19 pandemic, and nonpartisan forecasters favor him to win control of the House and possibly the Senate. Early Democratic advantages in Senate races in Georgia, Pennsylvania and Nevada have evaporated.
Control of even one chamber would allow Republicans to block Democrat Biden’s legislative agenda and launch potentially damaging investigations.
Biden warned that many Republican candidates are threatening democratic norms by repeating Trump’s false claims about a stolen election in 2020.
“Democracy is literally on the ballot,” he told students at Sarah Lawrence College north of New York. “You can’t love a country until you’re winning.”
Meanwhile, at a Trump rally in Miami, the former president recycled many of his baseless complaints about the 2020 election and hinted that he could soon announce another presidential run.
“I might have to do it again, but stay tuned,” he said, blasting the Biden administration for everything from violent crime to dirty airports.
Trump advisers say an announcement about the 2024 presidential election could come sometime this month.
Despite Biden’s warnings about democracy, many of his fellow Democrats have emphasized more practical issues, such as their work to lower prescription drug prices and defend Social Security. While many have campaigned for abortion rights, opinion polls show it has faded as a top voter issue.
Republicans have questioned Democrats’ support for law enforcement and seized on concerns about crime, which has become a major election issue after homicides spiked during the COVID pandemic.
“Have you no pain in two short years?” Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker said at a rally in Georgia. “It’s on their watch.”
Democrats have been troubled by Biden’s unpopularity, which has forced him to refrain from campaigning in competitive states. According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll completed on Tuesday, only 40% of Americans approve of his job performance.
Biden was speaking in normally safe Democratic territory outside New York, where Republicans are threatening to make gains.
New York’s Democratic Gov. Cathy Hochula faces an unexpectedly strong challenge from Republican Lee Zeldin, while Democratic House incumbents are locked in tight races across the state.
Vice President Kamal Harris visited Chicago, another Democratic stronghold, where she said Democrats could pass national abortion-rights legislation if they increased their margins in the Senate. “If we get two more senators in, the president can sign it into law,” she said.
First Lady Jill Biden visited Texas, a Republican-dominated state with few contests. “Choosing who leads our community is one way we can live out our faith,” she told worshipers at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church in Houston.
Additional reporting on Nathan Layne in Georgia, Tyler Clifford in New York and Gram Slattery in Washington; By Andy Sullivan; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Deepa Babington and Kenneth Maxwell
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