ROSEMONT, Illinois: President Joe Biden has said he was feeling “really good’’ about Democrats’ chances in the midterm elections.
“Folks, I’m not buying the notion that we’re in trouble,’’ he told the crowd at a political reception.
“I feel really good about our chances,’’ he told reporters as he boarded Air Force One for Illinois from Southern California. “I think we’re going to keep the Senate and pick up a seat, and I think we have a chance of winning the House. So, I feel optimistic.’’
Biden on Friday hailed an increase in US employment but acknowledged that inflation remains his administration’s “top economic challenge” four days out from midterm elections that will determine control of Congress.
US job gains in October beat estimates in data reported Friday, with nonfarm payrolls rising by 261,000. September gains were also revised upward. Wages rose 4.7 per cent from a year prior, though they are not keeping pace with inflation.
Biden said the data shows “that our jobs recovery remains strong” The report underscores a resilient US job market that is a pillar of Biden’s economic message on the stump ahead of the November 8 midterms.
Still, polls show Democrats likely to lose at least one chamber of Congress and voters rank inflation and the economy as their most pressing concerns.
“Inflation is our top economic challenge, and I know that American families are feeling squeezed,” Biden said. He argued inflation would grow worse under Republican plans for the economy.
The biggest names in Democratic and Republican politics — Biden, Barack Obama and Donald Trump — meanwhile, headed to Pennsylvania hoping to tip the balance in a closely contested midterm race that could determine control of the US Senate.
Former President Obama caps a five-state tour aimed at stemming his party’s losses in Tuesday’s congressional elections with appearances in Pittsburgh alongside Democratic Senate nominee John Fetterman before heading to Philadelphia, where he will take the stage at Temple University with President Biden.
Former President Trump, meanwhile, will be ginning up support for his hand-picked Republican Senate nominee, celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz, and Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano at a rally in Latrobe, southeast of Pittsburgh.
As he has in a steady stream of rallies since leaving office, Trump is also working to maintain his own profile as he contemplates launching a third run for the White House after the midterms, according to advisers.
That could set the stage for a Biden-Trump rematch, though some Democrats say heavy losses for Biden’s party on Tuesday could increase pressure on the president to step aside and let someone else carry the party’s mantle in 2024.
The Fetterman-Oz Senate race is one of three critical contests, along with Georgia and Nevada, that will determine whether Democrats hold onto their razor-thin majority in the Senate, and with it the power to confirm Biden’s nominees to posts ranging from his Cabinet to the Supreme Court.
Nonpartisan election forecasters and polls show Republicans are heavy favourites to win control of the House of Representatives, with the Senate a toss-up. Control of even one of those chambers would give Republicans the power to block Biden’s legislative agenda and launch potentially damaging investigations.
Both parties have lavished attention on Pennsylvania both because of the strategic importance of the race and because of its voters’ history of swinging from one party to the other in the past four presidential elections.
Volunteers are also out across the state.
Susan Mast, a 62-year-old teacher from Lancaster, has spent several hours each day for the last four weeks knocking on doors trying to recruit voters for Fetterman and other Democratic candidates.
“Democracy is at stake. Women’s rights are at stake,” Mast said.