HIRAM, Georgia, Nov 6 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump headline rallies in New York and Florida, respectively, on Sunday to excite voters two days before a close midterm election during which Republicans are pushing to overthrow both houses of Congress.
Forecasts and nonpartisan polls show Republicans as the big favorites to take control of the House of Representatives, with the Senate in check. Single-chamber control would allow Republicans to thwart Democrat Biden’s legislative agenda and launch potentially damaging investigations.
In recent weeks, the momentum has shifted to Republicans, Democratic strategists acknowledge, as voter concerns about inflation and crime have overtaken those about abortion after the Supreme Court ended the national abortion rights in June. The Democratic lead in several Senate races, including in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Nevada, has shrunk or evaporated.
At a rally in Hiram, Georgia, Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker linked his opponent, Democratic Sen. Raphael Walker, to what Republicans have tried to paint as failures of the Biden administration — including the inflation and illegal immigration.
“In two little years, don’t you feel the pain?” he said. “It’s under their watch.”
Top Democrats highlighted their work to lower prescription drug prices and portrayed Republicans as a threat to Social Security and democracy itself.
Republicans questioned Democrats’ support for law enforcement and tapped into concerns about crime, which has emerged as a top concern for voters after murder rates spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic. 19.
“You turn on the television and that’s all you see,” Republican voter Marie Vlad, 66, said at the Walker rally.
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, head of the House Democrats’ fundraising arm which faces its own tight race, called the election a “razor sharp” and implicitly questioned Republicans’ commitment to the democracy.
“We have all kinds of things we can do better, but we’re responsible adults who believe in this democracy,” Maloney told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
For Democrats, Sunday’s rallies in traditionally pro-party areas are a last-minute chance to minimize Tuesday’s losses.
Biden will appear in Westchester County, normally safe Democratic territory outside of New York, where Republicans are threatening to make gains.
New York Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul faces an unexpected challenge from Republican Lee Zeldin, while Democratic incumbents in the US House of Representatives are locked in tight battles around the state.
Biden’s unpopularity also works against Democrats, which had led him to refrain from campaigning in some swing states. Only 40% of Americans approve of his professional performance, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted on Tuesday.
Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Chicago, another Democratic stronghold, where she said Democrats could pass nationwide abortion rights legislation if they boost their margins in the Senate. “If we choose two more senators, the president can sign it,” she said.
First Lady Jill Biden traveled to Texas, a Republican-dominated state with a handful of competitive races. “Choosing who leads our community is a way of living our faith,” she told congregants at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church in Houston.
Trump will appear in Miami alongside the state’s two U.S. senators and several U.S. representatives. For years, Florida has swung back and forth, but recently took on a Republican bent and isn’t seen as a major battleground for this election.
Trump’s frequent rallies keep his profile high as he plans to launch a third run for the White House after midterms, advisers say. Florida could be a battleground in any nominating contest because its Republican Governor, Ron DeSantis, is seen by strategists as a formidable contender for the Republican nomination, should he throw his hat in the ring.
That made DeSantis a target for Trump, who referred to the governor as “Ron DeSanctimonious” on Saturday night.
Additional reporting by Tyler Clifford in New York and Gram Slattery and Sarah Lynch in Washington; Written by Andy Sullivan, Gram Slattery and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Deepa Babington
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