Midterms 2018: Trump and Obama make final plea to nation with opposing visions for America

Campaigning will continue to the very end

Andrew Buncombe
Washington DC
Monday 05 November 2018 17:16 GMT
Barack Obama: 'we have seen repeated attempts to divide us with rhetoric designed to make us angry and make us fearful'

Donald Trump and Barack Obama – the president and his predecessor – have hit the campaign trail in a final effort to energise and inspire their supporters, delivering very different visions of the nation on the eve of the midterm elections.

Having spent the weekend criss-crossing the country and exchanging barbs with Mr Trump, Mr Obama, 57, appeared at a small event at the offices of Democratic senator Tim Kaine in northern Virginia. Meanwhile, Mr Trump, 72, was holding hold rallies in Ohio, Indiana and Missouri, a final blitz of heartland appearances that echoed his tactics in 2016, when he won the White House.

Urging party workers and others listening to ensure they voted for the man who had been Hillary Clinton’s pick for her vice presidential candidate in 2016, Mr Obama said people had become disenchanted after his own 2008 win and found things did not “become perfect” overnight. He said that by electing people such as Mr Kaine and Jennifer Wexton, a Democratic candidate for congress, progress would be made.

“How we talk to each other gets better. Better is good. Better is a start,” he said. “When you do that everything is going to shine.”

Meanwhile, as Mr Trump left Washington for his rallies in the midwest, he told reporters: “I think we’re going to have a good day ... I think we’re gonna do very well.”

Shortly afterwards, speaking in Cleveland for the best part of an hour, the president stumped for Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine and said the Democratic candidate, Richard Cordray, was a “radical socialist ... [and] not a good person”.

He told the crowd when they cast their ballots, they should imagine him on the ticket. “In a sense, I am on the ticket, you’ve gotta go out to vote,” he said. “You have to protect your rights and your freedoms.”

Mr Trump then repeated a catchline he has made before, saying “Democrats produce mobs, Republicans produce jobs”, and telling the crowd: “If crying Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and the legendary Maxine Waters gain the majority, they will try to raise your taxes, restore job-killing regulations, shut down your coal mines and your steel mills ... take away your healthcare.”

There is a lot at stake on Tuesday. Most analysts predict that while Republicans will do enough to hold the Senate and may even add a seat two, there appears to be a consensus that the Democrats are in a strong enough position to flip the 23 seats they need to win the House.

It is the lower chamber of congress where any effort to impeach the president would start out, an issue that Democrats have for tactical reasons played down during the campaign season, but which would likely reemerge if they win.

Campaigning for Democrat Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Mr Obama said: “America is at a crossroads. In two days, you get to vote in what I believe will be the most important election of our lifetimes. I know politicians always say that, but this time it’s really true.

“Change is gonna happen. Hope is gonna happen. With each new step we take, hope will spread. Goodness will spread. And you will be the ones who will have done it. It starts with you. Let’s go vote. Let’s go make change. Let’s go make hope.”

US Midterms 2018: The five big questions

By contrast, Mr Trump told supporters that Mr Obama represented the past.

In remarks that drew attention to Mr Obama’s middle name, Hussein, a tactic that over the years many such as Mr Trump have used to suggest the 44th president was not born in the US, he said: “It’s no surprise that Joe Donnelly is holding a rally this weekend with Barack H Obama.”

CNN said the crowd at an Indianapolis high school booed as Mr Trump added: “We don’t want to go back to the Obama days.”

Mike Fraioli, a veteran Democratic strategist and fundraiser, told The Independent people were “holding tight” for the next 36 hours. Yet said he believed Democrats had done enough to win the house.

He said Mr Trump’s approval rating was very low, perhaps just “39 or 40 or 41”.

“Then you look at the generic vote – there is an advantage of between eight to 13 points. A lead that is in the high single digits or low double digits, is very good for Democrats,” he said.

Mr Trump’s approval rating has been historically low during his presidency, but has bumped up in recent weeks. CNN suggests the president’s approval rating stands at 41 points; others put it higher, while some polls place it even lower. Mr Obama’s was at around 45 per cent at this stage in 2010. In the 2010 midterms, the Democrats went on to lose both the House and the Senate.

The website Axios said strategists from both parties had predicted the Democrats would win up to 35 House seats. If so, that would be a better than history predicts for Mr Trump; presidents with approval ratings below 50 points for a midterm election, lose an average of 37 House seats, it said.

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