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Biden makes final pitch to save incumbent Democrats

Analysis on final midterms push
Analysis on final midterms push and impact of Biden, Trump on campaign trail 06:18

President Biden took off on a personal final-days campaign sprint Thursday that reflects the Democrats' major concerns before next week's midterm elections. Mr. Biden's four-state, three-day trip includes California, Illinois and Pennsylvania.

In an urgent plea as his party faces the potential loss of House and Senate control, Mr. Biden asked voters Thursday night to go to the polls to support Democratic candidates, warning that a Republican Congress would reshape America by cutting back on health care and threatening abortion rights and retirement security.

Speaking in San Diego County, California, at an evening rally in support of endangered Democratic Rep. Mike Levin, the president said the outcome of the election would "determine the direction of the country for at least a decade or more."

"This is a choice ... between two fundamentally different versions of America," Mr. Biden said.

Mr. Biden will be joined by Levin for a visit to Carlsbad-headquartered Viasat as he looks to highlight the CHIPS and Science Act, a $280 billion legislative package, ahead of Tuesday's midterm elections. The bill is one of the Biden administration's most significant legislative achievements.

Levin, a two-term congressman representing a San Diego-area district that was once a GOP stronghold, is locked in a tight race with former San Juan Capistrano Mayor Brian Maryott. The president headlined a rally Thursday night in Oceanside, California, for Levin.

Coronavirus pandemic-era supply disruptions and a dearth of domestic chip manufacturing hampered Viasat, which relies on such components for services it provides to industrial customers and the U.S. military. Mr. Biden intends to use the event to highlight how the CHIPS act will help companies like Viasat reduce their reliance on overseas chip manufacturers, according to the White House.

Later Friday, the president will head to Chicago to participate in a political reception. Mr. Biden is heading to the Democratic stronghold amid signs that some House members representing suburban Chicago districts may be facing more competitive than expected reelection battles.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super political action committee, or super PAC, aligned with the GOP House leadership, this week announced a $1.8 million ad buy targeting Democratic Rep. Sean Casten, who represents a district that Biden won by about 11 percentage points in 2020. Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, the House minority leader, is due to campaign with GOP challenger Keith Pekau in the district Friday.

In New Mexico, Mr. Biden appealed to voters to defeat "reckless and irresponsible" Republicans and reelect Democratic New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

New Mexico is normally safe Democratic territory, but Lujan Grisham is facing a determined challenge from her Republican opponent, former television meteorologist Mark Ronchetti.

At a rally headlined by the president, she warned that Democrats in the state are "a little behind" but assured supporters "we catch up fast."

U.S. President Joe Biden campaigns ahead of midterm elections in New Mexico
U.S. President Joe Biden and Governor of New Mexico Michelle Lujan Grisham react at a Democratic Party of New Mexico campaign rally for Lujan Grisham, a Democratic candidate for reelection, and other New Mexico Democrats, at the Gallegos Community Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S., November 3, 2022. KEVIN LAMARQUE / REUTERS

In fact, the headwinds facing Lujan Grisham are indicative of the difficulties for Democrats in many parts of the country as Mr. Biden set off on a multistate campaign swing largely focused on shoring up support in usual party strongholds.

"Remember this is not a referendum. This is a choice," he said, pointing to the stakes come Tuesday.

The president said Republicans would follow through on proposals to slice healthcare and retirement benefits if they win control of Congress.

"They're just saying it," he said. "They're not even hiding it."

Mr. Biden's itinerary in the campaign's final days illustrates the limited political clout of a president who has been held at arm's length by some Democrats in tough races this cycle. It also suggests that the president, whose approval ratings remain underwater, has concluded that he can be most effective using the waning days before polls close to shore up support for Democratic candidates in areas that he easily won in 2020.

"Democrats are clearly on the defensive and that's bearing out as the campaign comes to a close," said Christopher Borick, director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion. "Their chances for gains don't look realistic, so now you look to what you can preserve."

A president's party typically faces significant losses during midterm elections. Since 1934, only Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934, Bill Clinton in 1998, and George W. Bush in 2002 saw their parties gain seats in the midterms.

The president on Saturday will head to Pennsylvania to campaign with Obama for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro and Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman.

Pennsylvania Democrats are trying to keep control of the governor's office, which is being vacated by Tom Wolf as he finishes his second term. Fetterman is locked in a tight race with Republican Mehmet Oz, vying for the seat being vacated by the retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.

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