WASHINGTON – With early voting under way in many states across the nation, President Barack Obama concluded a multistate campaign swing Saturday urging voters to the polls, while Sarah Palin rallied the Republican faithful in the final dash to the midterm elections.
Republicans have the wind at their back heading into this last week before the Nov. 2 election, but Democrats appear to be narrowing the enthusiasm gap in some areas as Obama campaigns furiously to reignite the movement that propelled him to office.
“Two years ago, I told you change is not easy,” Obama told a large crowd at the University of Minnesota.
With his shirt-sleeves rolled up and voice straining at times, he added, “I need you to keep fighting. I need you to keep working. I need you to keep believing.”
Once lofty, hope-filled speeches from the president now include stark warnings of the GOP’s intent to roll back hard-fought policies if Republicans gain control of the House, as experts say is likely, or the Senate.
Before touching down in Minneapolis, Obama warned in his weekly radio address that Republicans aim to undo the Wall Street reforms that are designed to prevent another financial sector crisis. He signed the bill into law this year.
“Top Republicans in Congress are now beating the drum to repeal all of these reforms and consumer protections,” Obama said. “That’s why I think it’s so important that we not take this country backward – that we don’t go back to the broken system we had before.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., struck a similar tone when she warned Friday that Republicans, and the secret donors funding their campaigns, want to “get their hands on granny’s Social Security check.” Some GOP proposals would allow younger workers to divert part of their payroll taxes to private investment accounts as part of Social Security reforms.
Republicans countered that the failed policies of the Obama administration and a Democrat-run Congress have prolonged the economic slump by impeding job growth.
Republicans are seeking to mobilize their own voters to the polls and court tea party activists.
“How about we make Nov. 2 freedom day and we take it back for the little guy?” asked Palin to cheers at a Republican rally in Orlando, Fla.
Sen. John Thune of South Dakota took aim directly at Obama’s recent stump speeches in delivering the Republican weekly address.
“The president likes to say that when you want to drive forward you put your car in D, and when you want to go in reverse you put it in R,” Thune said. “It’s a clever line, but when you’re speeding toward a cliff, you don’t want to keep the car in drive.”