x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Obama rallies voters for Senate leader in key race

Barack Obama closes a four-day campaign swing that sought to bolster the fortunes of Democratic candidates ahead of the November 2 elections with a spirited rally imploring supporters to defeat the conventional wisdom that Democrats face steep losses.

U.S. President Barack Obama receives applause from gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton (R) during a campaign rally  in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
U.S. President Barack Obama receives applause from gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton (R) during a campaign rally in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

MINNEAPOLIS // President Barack Obama has told voters that the choice on election day was between the economic policies "that got us into this mess" and the policies leading the nation out.

Mr Obama closed a four-day campaign swing yesterday that sought to bolster the fortunes of Democratic candidates ahead of the November 2 elections with a spirited rally imploring supporters to defeat the conventional wisdom that Democrats face steep losses.

"All they've got is the same old stuff that they were peddling over the last decade," he said of Republicans. "I just don't want to relive the past." He said: "The other side is betting on amnesia. It is up to you to show them that you have not forgotten."

Mr Obama made his comments at a Minneapolis rally for gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton. The former US senator is facing a challenge from Republican Tom Emmer.

Mr Obama is not on the ballot in these mid-term elections but much is at stake because Republican gains - including a possible takeover of the House of Representatives - could slow progress on the remainder of Mr Obama's agenda.

The White House naturally doesn't want that to happen, so Mr Obama has been campaigning in Democratic-leaning states where key congressional allies, such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, are fighting hard to emerge victorious from close races that became that way, in part, because of voter angst and anger over the economy, unemployment and other issues.

Republicans have made Mr Reid their top target in the election. The minority party needs to gain 10 seats to wrest control of the Senate from the Democrats, and unseating the most powerful Senate Democrat would deal a major blow to Mr Obama, who reminded supporters of Republican opposition to his agenda.

Mr Reid, of Nevada, is tied in the polls with relative unknown Republican Sharron Angle in a race that has attracted millions of dollars from across the nation.

Mr Obama's visit on Friday to the US gambling capital was meant to give a boost to Mr Reid, who hopes to avoid the fate of former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle who lost by a narrow margin in South Dakota in 2004.

Like incumbent Democrats everywhere - and more than most - it's not only a Republican rival that Mr Reid is combatting. It's the troubled economy, in the state with the nation's highest rates of unemployment (14.4 per cent) and home foreclosures, where the recession has taken a big bite out of Nevada's main tourism industry.

Republican candidate Mrs Angle has urged Mr Reid to "man up" and accept his share of blame for the state's economic woes.

Mr Reid has responded to such attacks by saying Mrs Angle like other tea party-backed candidates is too extreme for Nevada voters. He has called her an ally of the special interests and advocate for jettisoning government agencies and privatising programmes for the elderly and veterans that millions of Nevadans rely on.