Battling to prevent Republican losses, President George W. Bush said Saturday that Democrats are determined to raise taxes and would damage the economy if they gain control of Congress. Democrats, meanwhile, kept up their assault on the president's Iraq policy.
In a partisan pre-election message, Bush said, "The choice you make on Tuesday will have a direct impact on our economy, on the small businesses that are creating jobs and on the workers who depend on them.
"The last thing American families and small businesses need now is a higher tax bill," Bush said in his weekly radio address, delivered live from a coffee shop in suburban Denver. "And that is what you'll get if the Democrats take control of the Congress."
Democrat Lois Murphy, who is fighting for the right to represent Pennsylvania in the House, gave the Democratic radio response but focused on the war.
"No matter how bad Iraq gets or how many respected Americans say that our strategy is not working ... our president and his Republican Congress have promised not to change a thing if they are returned to power," Murphy said.
Murphy, a lawyer, is challenging Republican Rep. Jim Gerlach, a two-term incumbent from suburban Philadelphia whom she nearly beat in 2004. Their rematch is considered one of the nation's most competitive races.
Murphy has said the Iraq war has made America less safe and Congress should demand that President Bush present a comprehensive plan for success. Gerlach has accused her of being inconsistent in her support for U.S. troops in Iraq.
In other news from the campaign trail:
In Maryland, U.S. Rep. Ben Cardin and Republican Lt. Gov. Michael Steele are locked in a very tight and racially charged race to succeed retiring Democratic Senator Paul Sarbanes.
Conservatives support for the war in Iraq continues to fade. Richard Perle – a leading neo-conservative proponent of the U.S.-led invasion – now says U.S. policy there has failed. The Army Times and other military-oriented periodicals will publish editorials calling for Mr. Bush to fire Donald Rumsfeld.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, whose job entails promoting U.S. aims abroad, is doing her part for the Republican party on the home front. Rice, the most popular member of President Bush's cabinet, is selling the administration line on Iran, North Korea and Iraq in a string of interviews with conservative radio and television hosts. Rice did 12 interviews in 11 days through Friday, an unusually busy schedule when she is not traveling.
Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio, who pleaded guilty last month in the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling investigation, resigned from Congress on Friday. House Republicans had threatened to expel Ney if he didn't quit by the time lawmakers returned to Washington after Tuesday's elections. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Ney's resignation four days before the elections was late.
Long locked out of power, Democrats appear poised to win control of the House and possibly the Senate in midterm elections this week amid a national clamor for change after four years of war in Iraq.
Democrats also are on track to replace Republican governors in several states, New York, Ohio and Massachusetts among them. Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger seems safely on his way to a first full term in California, the most populous state.