Missouri Democratic Senate candidate Claire McCaskill waved to the crowd yesterday as she stood with Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., during a rally in St. Louis.
Candidates get in their final pitches
WASHINGTON » With House control at stake, President Bush campaigned yesterday in endangered Republican districts across GOP-friendly middle America. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, hoping to become the first female speaker, stumped for Democratic challengers in the left-leaning Northeast.
"Here's the way I see it," the president told a crowd inside an auditorium in Grand Island, Neb. "If the Democrats are so good about being the party of the opposition, let's just keep them in the opposition." Republicans are hoping their party's acclaimed get-out-the-vote operation can prevent a Democratic rout in a campaign marked by voter fury over the Iraq war.
Pelosi, D-Calif., was cautiously optimistic about her party's chances in tomorrow's midterm election. "We are thankful for where we are today, to be poised for success," she said in Colchester, Conn. "But we have two Mount Everests we have to climb. They are called Monday and Tuesday."
Her party appears increasingly confident it can ride a wave of public disenchantment with the Bush administration and Congress to victory in the House and, possibly, the Senate.
Two days before the election, both parties focused on turning out voters. The number of ballots cast historically is low in nonpresidential year elections, with only about 40 percent of U.S. citizens of voting age population going to the polls.
Republicans and Democrats have sent thousands of volunteers to states with the most contested races to work phone banks and canvass neighborhoods. Both parties also have assembled legal teams for possible challengers in case of voting problems.
U.S. Rep. Nancy Johnson, who is seeking re-election, marched yesterday in the Connecticut Veterans Day Parade in Hartford, Conn.
Candidates made their final pitches in the campaign's final weekend. Republicans repeated their assertion that Democrats would raise taxes and prematurely pull out of Iraq if they controlled Congress. Democrats pressed their case for change, arguing that Republicans on Capitol Hill blindly have followed Bush's "failed policy."
"I will not vote to raise taxes for working men and women," vowed Democrat Jim Webb before 200 cheering supporters in mountainous Grundy, Va. He's trying to oust first-term GOP Sen. George Allen in one of the three most hotly contested Senate contests.
Allen courted Virginia voters in Landover, Md., outside FedEx Field, the home of the Washington Redskins. The senator's late father, George Allen, once coached the team.
Iraq has dominated the campaign season, and Republicans and Democrats sparred over the war again yesterday.
"To pull out, to withdraw from this war is losing. The Democrats appear to be content with losing," said Sen. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, who leads the Senate GOP's campaign efforts.
Infuriated, Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, the Democrat in charge of the party's House campaign, shot back, "We want to win and we want a new direction to Iraq."
In his sixth year in office, the president faces the likelihood of losing GOP seats in both the House and the Senate, as well as fewer GOP governors.
Voters are agitating for change. They give both the president and GOP-controlled Congress low job performance ratings; they do not like the direction the country is headed; and they are particularly frustrated with the war as costs and casualties mount.
"It may not be popular with the public. It doesn't matter, in the sense that we have to continue the mission and do what we think is right," Vice President Dick Cheney said, adding that the administration would continue "full speed ahead" with its Iraq strategy.
That drew a sardonic response from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y. "It's full speed ahead over a cliff!" she told supporters at a campaign rally yesterday in Union Vale, N.Y. She is on track to easily win a second term.
Darcy Burner, Democratic congressional candidate in Washington's 8th District, spoke to supporters yesterday during a rally at her campaign headquarters in Bellevue, Wash. Burner is facing Rep. Dave Reichert in tomorrow's election.
Issues across the nation
Some noteworthy state ballot items facing voters in tomorrow's general election:
Abortion: South Dakotans will vote to uphold or quash a law that would ban virtually all abortions. Measures in California and Oregon would require parental notification before minors could have an abortion.
Affirmative action: A Michigan measure would scrap affirmative-action programs in university admissions and government hiring.
Alternative energy: A California measure would tax oil producers to pay for alternative-energy programs. A Washington measure would require large utility companies to increase renewable-energy sources.
Illegal immigrants: Four measures in Arizona would deny bail to illegal immigrants charged with a serious felony, make English the state's official language, bar illegal immigrants from receiving punitive damages in lawsuits, and prohibit them from receiving certain government services and benefits.
Marijuana: Colorado and Nevada voters could legalize possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana; South Dakotans vote on whether to legalize medical marijuana.
Political reform: A Colorado measure would ban gifts from lobbyists to public officials. A California measure would implement public financing of campaigns. Rhode Islanders decide whether to restore voting rights to felons on probation and parole.
Property rights: In Arizona, California, Idaho and Washington, voters could require state and local authorities to compensate property owners if land-use regulations lower their property's value. Voters in 11 states could bar the government from taking private property for another private use.
Same-sex marriage: Voters in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin will consider proposed state constitutional amendments that would ban same-sex marriage. Colorado voters decide on a rival measure that would legalize domestic partnerships even if the marriage ban passes.
Spending limits: Voters in Maine, Nebraska and Oregon will decide whether to cap state spending.
Stem cell research: A Missouri measure would guarantee that all federally allowed stem cell research, including on embryos, can occur in the state.