Democrats hope to limit losses in last hours

Published 8:59 am Monday, November 1, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bracing for today’s final burst of campaigning, President Barack Obama implored voters to remember that GOP policies failed to prevent the recession, while top Republicans said the public will deliver a harsh verdict on his stewardship of an anemic recovery.

Alaska was shaping up as the most unsettled state in the midterm election’s closing act. Democrats said it’s conceivable they could score an upset Senate win there.

Desperate to minimize game-changing losses around the country, Democrats put their biggest weapons on the road Sunday.

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Obama and Vice President Joe Biden rallied about 8,000 supporters in Cleveland, urging them to keep Gov. Ted Strickland and a clutch of imperiled House Democrats from being ousted.

Former president Bill Clinton, still a popular and energetic campaigner, stumped for Democrats Sunday in Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

“I’m pleading with you,” Clinton told an audience in Nashua, N.H., “give John Lynch a massive victory.” Lynch, the three-term governor, faces a strong challenge from Republican John Stephen.

Republicans went to their own rallies and talk shows, almost giddy with the expectation of regaining the House majority, and not ruling out claiming the Senate against long odds.

Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, told “Fox News Sunday” that voters will say: “You blew it, President Obama. We gave you the two years to fulfill your promise of making sure that our economy starts roaring back to life again.”

Obama, ending a two-day, four-state campaign swing, flew home from Cleveland on Sunday in time to welcome trick-or-treaters to the White House. Aides said he planned no more campaign travel before Tuesday’s elections, but he might do radio interviews.

The president told the crowd at Cleveland State University that Republicans want voters to forget the economic recession that hit during a GOP presidency.

“It’s up to you to remember that this election is a choice between the policies that got us into this mess and the policies that are leading us out of this mess,” he said.

Democrats were hoping a late innings scramble in Alaska might help them head off chances of a GOP Senate takeover. With GOP nominee Joe Miller stumbling, and incumbent Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski making a rare write-in effort after losing the primary to Miller, little-noticed Democrat Scott McAdams might find a way to sneak through to victory. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has poured more than $160,000 into the once-ignored race.

“We believe that Scott McAdams actually has a real chance of winning this race,” committee chairman Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said Sunday.

Republican leaders said they had not abandoned Miller.

The Democratic National Committee was airing a new ad featuring Obama that warns of record cuts in education and rollbacks in financial accountability if Republicans take control of Congress.

Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele dismissed concerns of government gridlock if GOP lawmakers refuse to compromise with Democrats on issues such as deficit spending and taxation.

In many races, large numbers of voters have made their choices. In Ohio, where Democrats could lose up to six House seats, more than 721,000 votes have been cast. California officials already had in hand almost 2.5 million ballots, and Florida officials had almost 1.7 million.

More than 13.5 million votes have been cast early, either at ballot boxes or by mail. Four years ago, during the last congressional midterm election, some 19 million people voted before Election Day.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, chairman of the Senate GOP’s campaign efforts, said Republicans are “going to come back in a significant way” on Election Day. With respect to the Senate, where Democrats now hold a majority, he said, “I think we don’t get the majority back but we come awfully close and we finish the job in 2012.”

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, agreed that despite the expected close races, “the Democrats retain the majority in the Senate.”

He predicted that Sen. Harry Reid, the majority leader, will be re-elected. The embattled Reid faces a tough race in his home state of Nevada. Should he lose, Durbin would likely be among those seeking to be the next majority leader. But Durbin declined to speculate on such a scenario. “Harry Reid’s going to be the next majority leader,” he said.

Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association, agreed that it would be “a bit of a stretch” for Republicans to take control of the Senate.

And Party Chairman Michael Steele said he thinks Republicans will take the House. But he also acknowledged that voters are “skeptical” about both parties, and said that if the GOP gets the new power and doesn’t use it effectively, “then we’ll have a problem in two years.”