US President Barack Obama has warned that Republicans hoped to ride fear all the way to next month’s mid-term polls, ahead of a nine-state, 11 day tour designed to stem expected Democratic losses.
Obama also called on the Supreme Court to review a decision that unleashed a torrent of anonymous campaign funds boosting the conservative assault on his presidency, charging that the cash was “hijacking” US democracy.
In a flurry of rallies, webcasts and fundraising events, Obama hopes to lift Democratic voters demoralized by ebbing support for his administration and fearing the loss of one or both chambers of Congress in November.
“The question, once again, is going to be whether hope overcomes fear,” Obama said at a webcast event meant to buck up young supporters who helped him to victory two years ago, but who are less enthused by mid-term polls.
“Essentially, what the other side has decided is that they are going to try to ride fear and anxiety all the way to the ballot box on November 2,” he said, at the event organized by the Democratic National Committee.
“November 2 matters,” Obama said. “If you were excited in 2008, that was the beginning of the journey, not the end, of the journey,” Obama said at an event seen by supporters at watch parties nationwide.
Republicans reject charges they are peddling fear, insisting that with unemployment at 9.6 percent, and growth sluggish, Obama’s economic policies have failed. They also vow to overturn his historic health reform law.
In a first, the president fielded a question in Washington from a supporter in Chicago on the online communications platform Skype. He also faced friendly probes via Twitter, email and in person from invited supporters.
At one point, even Obama admitted one question was a “softball.”
In three weeks, all of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives and just over a third of 100 seats in the Senate are up for grabs.
Polls show Republicans on course to take back the House and challenge for control of the Senate in a scenario which could enable them to stall Obama’s ambitious reform agenda for the next two years.
Obama said he understood why Americans were anxious yet insisted he had staved off a depression and put the country on the right track.
He also slammed groups with benign sounding names like “Americans for Prosperity” for blitzing the airwaves with negative ads funded by undisclosed donors he said might be oil firms, banks or even foreign sources.
US elections are always awash in cash — but the Supreme Court decision on free speech grounds allowed corporations to shield their donations behind such groups which are free to mount attacks on the candidates of their choice.
Obama has vigorously criticized the judgment and took another swipe at it on Tuesday.
“I hope that the Supreme Court at some point looks at the evidence that has accumulated over the last several months and says this is really hijacking our democracy. This is not a healthy thing,” Obama said.
Earlier, the White House said Obama will visit at least nine states in 11 days starting on Friday in a bid to drive up Democratic turnout, amid an apparent enthusiasm gap between his party and Republicans.
Obama will also make his first appearances on the campaign trail with his wife Michelle Obama since his 2008 presidential run, as the couple stump at the weekend in midwestern Ohio, a bellwether state ravaged by the recession.
The president, fresh from trips to Philadelphia and Florida, will visit Delaware, Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington state, California, Nevada, Ohio, Minnesota and Rhode Island.
Another campaign swing is expected in the final days before the election.