Obama makes final campaign rounds for Democrats

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					Obama makes final campaign rounds for Democrats

President Obama sought to drum up some last-minute enthusiasm from
Democratic voters during campaign stops in Ohio and Illinois on Sunday as
candidates in dozens of competitive races across the country began a
final push for votes before Tuesday's midterm elections.
The president's four-state swing, which included events in Pennsylvania
and Connecticut over the weekend, was intended to blunt Republican
momentum that has put control of the House of Representatives, along with
a half dozen Senate seats, well within the GOP's reach.

"You have the chance to set the direction of this country and this state
for many years to come," Obama said at Cleveland State University,
relying on many of the same themes that propelled him and his party to
victory two years ago. "Just like you did in 2008, you can defy the
conventional wisdom."

Leaders of both parties predicted the sluggish economy and 9.6% national
unemployment rate will weigh heavily on voters. Obama cast the election
as a choice between "policies that got us into this mess and the policies
that are leading us out."

But former 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin said during an
appearance on Fox News Sunday that blame for the economy lay with the
Obama administration. "We gave you the two years to fulfill your promise
of making sure that our economy starts roaring back to life again," she

Obama made a surprise campaign stop at a Chicago cafeteria with Illinois
Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, who is running for the president's former
Senate seat in tossup race against Republican Rep. Mark Kirk. "Obviously
the other side is enthusiastic," Obama said. "We've got to make sure our
side is, too."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., meanwhile, shook hands at a
parade in Carson City while his conservative Republican opponent, former
state lawmaker Sharron Angle, flipped pancakes at a packed GOP breakfast
in the governor's mansion.

In Florida, Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek, the underdog in the state's
Senate race, was preparing for a non-stop, 24-hour campaign tour.
Pennsylvania Senate Republican nominee Pat Toomey spoke at rallies in the
vote-rich suburbs of Philadelphia.

New polls showed some races tightening. Toomey, a former congressman, is
tied with Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak in the race to replace Democratic
Sen. Arlen Specter, according to a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review survey
released Sunday.

In Alaska, a local GOP pollster, Dittman Research & Communications, found
GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski's write-in campaign ahead by 10 points over Joe
Miller, a Republican backed by the anti-tax Tea Party movement. Earlier
polls had suggested a much closer race.

It doesn't appear that weather will play a factor in turnout, at least.
Except for parts of the South, where thunderstorms are predicted along
the Gulf Coast, the USA should see "great" weather on Tuesday, said
Weather Channel meteorologist Mark Ressler. "The bulk of the nation will
be nice," he said.

As they worked to energize supporters on the ground, Democrats in
Washington attempted to downplay the potential for loss. Democratic Sen.
Robert Menendez, who heads the party's Senate campaign efforts, predicted
Democrats would not endure an election like the one in 1994, when the GOP
gained 54 seats in the House and eight in the Senate.

"This is not 1994," Menendez said on ABC's This Week. "No. 1, in 1994,
the Republican brand, its image was much better than it is today. In
every poll, Democrats as a brand fare much better."

Republicans must win 39 seats held by Democrats to capture control of the
House. More than 100 seats are potentially up for grabs, according to the
non-partisan Cook Political Report. In the Senate, Republicans would have
to win virtually every competitive race and take 10 seats now in
Democratic hands.

Even if Republicans don't capture the Senate, a new crop of conservative
Republicans, many of whom are front-runners in their races, will alter
the landscape in a chamber where any lawmaker can require a controversial
bill to have 60 votes to pass instead of a simple majority.

"You're dealing with Republican Senate leadership that brings 100
filibusters to the floor in a given year, and now you will have more
Republicans," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said on CNN's State of the Union.
"It's going to be difficult to do anything."

Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who leads his party's campaign efforts in the
Senate, told ABC he disagrees: "I don't think gridlock is going to be
acceptable when it comes to runaway spending and unsustainable debt and
9.6% unemployment."

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