Trump touts econ­omy

While for­mer pres­i­dent Barack Obama cam­paigns for Democrats ahead of midterm elec­tions

CityPress - - News - – Reuters

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump touted eco­nomic growth and his na­tion­al­ist poli­cies as he ral­lied with Repub­li­can can­di­dates ahead of Tues­day’s con­gres­sional elec­tions as Demo­cratic for­mer vice-pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den urged vot­ers to re­ject divi­sion.

Con­trol of both houses of the US Con­gress, cur­rently dom­i­nated by Re­pub­li­cans, and 36 gover­nors’ of­fices will be at stake when Amer­i­cans vote in Tues­day’s elec­tions. In­ter­est has been unusu­ally high for a non-pres­i­den­tial elec­tion year, with early vot­ing run­ning well ahead of past cy­cles.

Opin­ion polls and non­par­ti­san fore­cast­ers gen­er­ally show Democrats with a strong chance of tak­ing the 23 ad­di­tional seats they would need for a ma­jor­ity in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, which they could use to launch in­ves­ti­ga­tions into Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion and block his leg­isla­tive agenda.

Re­pub­li­cans are favoured to re­tain con­trol of the Sen­ate, whose pow­ers in­clude con­firm­ing Trump’s nom­i­na­tions to life­time seats on the Supreme Court.

“Amer­ica is boom­ing. Re­pub­li­cans passed a mas­sive tax cut for work­ing fam­i­lies and we will soon fol­low it up with an­other 10 per­cent tax cut for the mid­dle class,” Trump said yes­ter­day, stand­ing in a Bel­grade, Mon­tana, air­field with Air Force One as a back­drop.

Last De­cem­ber, Trump signed into law the largest tax over­haul since the 1980s, which slashed the cor­po­rate rate to 21 per­cent from 35 per­cent and tem­po­rar­ily re­duced the tax bur­den for most in­di­vid­u­als as well.

The ap­pear­ance was in­tended to boost the cam­paign of Matt Rosendale, the Repub­li­can state au­di­tor chal­leng­ing Demo­cratic US Sen­a­tor Jon Tester. Trump called out Tester for his vote against his most re­cent Supreme Court nom­i­nee, say­ing “what he did was ter­ri­ble”.

Re­pub­li­cans in many com­pet­i­tive sub­ur­ban dis­tricts have tried to fo­cus their cam­paign mes­sages on the ro­bust eco­nomic growth, though in his cam­paign ap­pear­ances Trump has also fo­cused on his hard-line im­mi­gra­tion stance as he looks to stem the il­le­gal and le­gal flow of peo­ple into the US.

Bi­den cam­paigned in Ohio yes­ter­day in sup­port of Democrats US Sen­a­tor Sher­rod Brown and gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date Richard Cor­dray.

“We’re in a bat­tle for Amer­ica’s soul,” Bi­den, his voice faint and scratchy, told a crowd at a high school south of Cleve­land. “We Democrats have to make it clear who we are. We choose hope over fear, we choose unity over divi­sion, we choose our al­lies over our en­e­mies and we choose truth over lies.”

Con­gres­sional can­di­dates cam­paigned in a whirl­wind close across the coun­try: in Vir­ginia, Demo­crat Jen­nifer Wex­ton greeted vot­ers in the Manas­sas Vet­er­ans Day pa­rade; in New Jer­sey Repub­li­can Jay Web­ber met them in a diner, and in Min­nesota Repub­li­can Pete Stauber went door to door urg­ing peo­ple to vote.

Surge in early vot­ing

As of Fri­day night, al­most 32.4 mil­lion peo­ple had cast bal­lots early, ac­cord­ing to The Elec­tion Project at the Uni­ver­sity of Florida, which tracks turnout. That is up more than 50 per­cent from the 20.5 mil­lion early votes cast in all of 2014, the last fed­eral elec­tion when the White House was not at stake.

Trump on Fri­day ap­peared in West Vir­ginia with Pa­trick Mor­risey, who is seek­ing to un­seat Demo­cratic Sen­a­tor Joe Manchin. They marked his third cam­paign ap­pear­ance in West Vir­ginia and fourth in Mon­tana.

Some an­a­lysts said the pres­i­dent’s re­peated vis­its to states that he won in 2016 were a sig­nal Re­pub­li­cans were wor­ried about keep­ing con­trol of Con­gress.

“It’s not a good sign for Re­pub­li­cans if they have to spend all these re­sources for a seat they shouldn’t have to be fight­ing for,” said Si­mon Haeder, a pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal science at West Vir­ginia Uni­ver­sity, in a phone in­ter­view. “That should be a solid Repub­li­can seat.”

On Fri­day, for­mer US pres­i­dent Barack Obama warned against rhetoric he said was de­signed to sow fear as he cam­paigned in sup­port of Demo­cratic can­di­dates.

Obama hit on a com­mon theme of Demo­cratic cam­paigns – de­fend­ing the 2010 health­care law that was his sig­na­ture do­mes­tic achieve­ment, while urg­ing Amer­i­cans not to em­brace hos­til­ity and divi­sion in pol­i­tics.

“We have seen re­peated at­tempts to di­vide us with rhetoric de­signed to make us an­gry and make us fear­ful,” Obama said in Mi­ami. “But, in four days, Florida, you can be a check on that kind of be­hav­iour.”

Obama was flanked by gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date An­drew Gil­lum, who faces for­mer con­gress­man and strong Trump backer Ron DeSan­tis, and Sen­a­tor Bill Nel­son, who is be­ing chal­lenged by out­go­ing gov­er­nor Rick Scott.

Obama’s speech was re­peat­edly in­ter­rupted by heck­lers, prompt­ing him to say: “Why is it that the folks who won the last elec­tion are so mad all the time?”

Af­ter Mi­ami, Obama was headed to Ge­or­gia to cam­paign for Stacey Abrams, a for­mer state leg­is­la­tor aim­ing to be­come the US’s first black woman gov­er­nor.

That race, pit­ting Abrams against Repub­li­can Brian Kemp, the state’s top elec­tions over­seer, has be­come a flash­point for al­le­ga­tions of voter sup­pres­sion by Democrats due to the state’s strict voter iden­ti­fi­ca­tion law. Re­pub­li­cans con­tend the law is nec­es­sary to de­ter voter fraud.

A fed­eral judge on Fri­day or­dered the state to al­low about 3 000 re­cently nat­u­ralised cit­i­zens to vote af­ter their reg­is­tra­tions had been put on hold.

PHOTO: REUTERS / CAR­LOS BARRIA

RACIST RHETORIC US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump re­it­er­ates his hard­line anti-im­mi­gra­tion mes­sage dur­ing a cam­paign rally at South­port High School in In­di­anapo­lis, In­di­ana, on Fri­day

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