US President Joe Biden speaks during a rally for gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore and the Democratic Party on the eve of the US midterm elections, at Bowie State University in Bowie, Maryland, on November 7, 2022. Photographer: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
“I think it’s going to be tough but I think we can. I think we’ll win the Senate. I think the House is tougher,” Biden told reporters Monday at the White House, after he was asked if Democrats would win the House.
“I’m optimistic. But I’m always optimistic,” he added.
Biden’s downbeat assessment of his party’s chances in the House followed a rally in Maryland for gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore. The president delivered his closing pitch to voters and urged supporters to turn out, warning Republicans would roll back Americans’ economic gains if they took Congress.
“For all the progress, we know a lot of families are still struggling,” Biden said at the rally, arguing his policies had put money in the pockets of American families. “We’re in a position to help families, working families, middle class families caught in a global crossfire of a pandemic and Putin’s aggressive war in Ukraine.”
The White House said about 1,700 people were in attendance.
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Biden cited the Inflation Reduction Act — Democrats’ climate, health and tax measure — and the reduction of the US deficit, and said Republicans would bring cuts to entitlement programs.
“We’re the ones bringing down the deficit allowing us to afford to provide ordinary hardworking Americans a little break,” he said.
Biden also delivered a jab at his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, calling him the “worst president since Herbert Hoover.” Trump was speaking Monday night to a few thousand people at the Dayton International Airport in Ohio. He’s repeatedly hinted that he will soon announce plans to run again in 2024.
At least three hecklers were removed from Biden’s event, with the crowd chanting “Let’s go Joe” to drown them out. Biden addressed one of the hecklers in the stands, telling them: “You look crazy enough to jump, don’t jump.”
Moore is expected to easily defeat Republican Dan Cox in his race, but the election night forecast for Democrats seeking to retain control of Congress is more daunting. Republicans are favored to take the House, while the battle for the Senate is a dead heat, according to an analysis by FiveThirtyEight.
Democrats already faced a tough path in the midterms, which are generally seen as a referendum on the president and challenging for the party in power. The party’s hopes were buoyed earlier this year when the Supreme Court ruling in June to overturn federal abortion rights and the Justice Department’s investigation into Trump’s handling of classified materials seemed to energize Democratic voters.
Republicans made gains by attacking Biden on the economy, with inflation running at levels not seen in four decades and Americans fearing a possible recession. Polls show voters rank high prices and the economy as their top concerns. Biden on the stump has touted his administration’s efforts to help curb prices but the White House has struggled with its inflation messaging.
Biden’s rally in Bowie, Maryland, marked the end of a six-state, five-day midterm blitz by the president that also took him to California, New Mexico, Illinois, Pennsylvania and New York in an effort to turn out Democratic voters.
Biden has been dragged down by low approval ratings which have made many Democrats in tough, competitive races reluctant to stump with the unpopular president and limited his campaign travel.
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The president has mostly campaigned in Democratic strongholds or appeared with candidates in safe seats, with Pennsylvania being one of the few exceptions. Biden’s visit to Pennsylvania on Saturday to stump for Senate candidate John Fetterman reunited him with former President Barack Obama at a raucous Philadelphia rally.
Fetterman’s contest against Trump-endorsed Republican Mehmet Oz is one of the races that could determine control of the Senate. But Biden has avoided many other states with closely contested Senate races including Georgia, Nevada and Arizona.
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The president, who turns 80 this month, has said he intends to run for re-election and will announce a final decision after the midterms. Biden will watch Tuesday’s election results with his advisers, according to a White House official.