YONKERS, N.Y., Nov 6 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden warned that a Republican victory in Tuesday’s midterm elections could weaken American democracy, while former President Donald Trump hinted at another run for the White House, two days before votes in which Republicans could win control of both houses of Congress.
The comments, made at dueling rallies in New York and Florida, highlighted the bleak prospects facing Biden’s Democrats despite making good on promises to boost clean energy incentives and rebuild collapsed roads and bridges.
Republicans have slammed Biden for high inflation and a rise in crime in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and nonpartisan forecasters favor him to win control of the House, and possibly the Senate. Early Democratic leads in Senate races in Georgia, Pennsylvania and Nevada have evaporated.
Control of even one chamber would allow Republicans to stymie Democrat Biden’s legislative agenda and launch potentially damaging investigations.
Biden warned that many Republican candidates are threatening Democratic norms by echoing Trump’s false claims about a stolen election in 2020.
“Democracy is literally on the ballot,” he told students at Sarah Lawrence College in northern New York City. “You can’t just love the country when you win.”
Meanwhile, at a Trump rally in Miami, the former president recycled many of his baseless complaints about the 2020 election and hinted that he may soon announce another presidential bid.
“I’ll probably have to do it again, but stay tuned,” he said, chastising the Biden administration for everything from violent crime to dirty airports.
Trump advisers say an announcement about the 2024 presidential election could come sometime this month.
Despite Biden’s warnings about democracy, many of his fellow Democrats have emphasized more practical issues, such as his work to lower prescription drug prices and defend Social Security. While many have campaigned for abortion rights, opinion polls show it has faded as a top concern among voters.
Republicans have questioned Democrats’ support for law enforcement and seized on concerns about crime, which has emerged as a major election issue after homicide rates spiked during the COVID pandemic.
“Two years from now, don’t you feel the pain?” Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker said at a rally in Georgia. “This is under his guard.”
Democrats have been hurt by Biden’s unpopularity, which has forced him to refrain from campaigning in competitive states. Only 40% of Americans approve of his job performance, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll completed on Tuesday.
Biden spoke in normally safe Democratic territory outside New York City, where Republicans are threatening to make gains.
Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul faces an unexpectedly stiff challenge from Republican Lee Zeldin, while Democratic House incumbents are locked in tight battles across the state.
Vice President Kamala Harris visited Chicago, another Democratic stronghold, where she said Democrats could pass national abortion rights legislation if their margins in the Senate widen. “If we pick up two more senators, the president can sign it into law,” he said.
First lady Jill Biden visited Texas, a Republican-dominated state that has a handful of competitive races. “Choosing who leads our community is a way to live out our faith,” he told worshipers at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church in Houston.
Additional reporting by Nathan Layne in Georgia, Tyler Clifford in New York and Gram Slattery in Washington; Written by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Deepa Babington and Kenneth Maxwell
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