Democrats turn to centrists in final hours as GOP bolsters base

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As Republican candidates make their final call in key states, they’re tapping into some of their party’s most polarizing figures and turning to messages that center cultural division and sometimes push racial discord.

Events included Sunday night dueling campaign rallies in Florida with former President Donald Trump and state Governor Ron DeSantis. And some have come forward with harsh rhetoric, including former UN ambassador Nikki Haley suggesting during a campaign stop in Georgia on Sunday that Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D-Ga.), who is a U.S. citizen, should be expelled.

At the same time, many Democrats are scrambling to highlight more moderate themes, neglecting their party’s far left and tapping surrogates who appeal to voters in between, including former President Bill Clinton, Secretary to Transports Pete Buttigieg and Sen Amy Klobuchar (Minn.)

On Sunday in Pennsylvania — one of the nation’s most crucial Senate contests — Democrats veered so centrally that they hosted an event with a former Republican congressman.

Key races in Tuesday’s election remain extremely close, with agents on both sides hedging their predictions. The posts and messengers that campaigns highlight in the final days typically reveal where strategists think they can get additional votes.

The approaches reflect divergent strategies in how candidates from both parties envision their path to victory. For the most part, Republicans want their base. Democrats are trying to portray themselves as moderates who will bring the temperature down.

During these appearances, Democrats address issues such as crime and the economy more forcefully, acknowledging voter concerns and highlighting how party leaders are addressing them.

Clinton, making an appearance in Brooklyn on Saturday for New York Governor Kathy Hochul (D), told a crowd that inflation was “disturbing” and acknowledged “some high-profile crimes.”

The former president has sought to portray Republicans as extremists. He said Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin had “issue after issue, he took the most extreme position.” Clinton added, “And if you think New York should be the most extreme state in the country, go for it.”

At a rally for Hochul at Sarah Lawrence College on Sunday evening, President Biden said the country was at “an inflection point.” He said the election was about choosing between two “fundamentally different” visions for the country.

He boasted of creating millions of new jobs, low unemployment and investing billions in infrastructure. He credited Hochul with repairing roads, expanding high-speed internet access, and improving water systems. “She’s helping New York to lead — to lead the way in getting things done in America,” Biden said.

Sunday night, Clinton was also scheduled to appear at an event for Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).

Haley made inflammatory comments about immigration during a Sunday campaign stop in support of Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker, saying Warnock should be kicked out of the country.

“The only person we need to make sure we kick out is Warnock,” Haley said, prompting loud cheers and applause from the crowd. Moments earlier, she spoke about being the daughter of Indian immigrants and said her parents were “offended by what is happening at this border”.

“Legal immigrants are more patriotic than leftists these days,” she told a crowd of hundreds of Walker supporters. “They love America and they want the laws to be followed in America.”

Senator Josh Hawley (R) of Missouri, who raised his fist in the air to signal his support for the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, has also sparked crowds in Ohio and Arizona in recent days with messages aimed squarely at the party’s pro-Donald Trump base.

Speaking at a hotel in Columbus on Saturday night, Hawley said: ‘They say our United States is built on slavery and corruption. Here’s what we’re saying: There’s nothing wrong with the United States of America. There is something wrong with them. We don’t need to change country. We must change the direction of the country.

Some of the controversial GOP rhetoric worries Democrats and civil rights leaders who are increasingly worried about tensions surrounding Tuesday’s election. Critics say they are particularly concerned about the increase in overt political violence, from the Jan. 6 attack to the violent assault on Paul Pelosi, husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

“They openly — in many areas blatantly — appeal to people’s racial biases to get them to vote ‘us against them,’” Reverend Al Sharpton said in an interview with The Washington Post. Sharpton said he had just spoken with Biden, who he said recorded a message raising concerns about racism and anti-Semitism for his radio show.

“It used to be subtle,” Sharpton said of the racial divide. “They wouldn’t be explicit. It was implicit. Now they have gone where caution is thrown to the wind. It is explicit. »

On Sunday, Andrew Torba, CEO of right-wing social networking site Gab, urged voters to support Republican gubernatorial candidate in Pennsylvania Doug Mastriano, who has espoused Christian nationalist views, and highlighted his Jewish faith. opponent, Josh Shapiro, in anti-Semitic terms.

“When a Jew embraces his faith during the election campaign, it’s ‘beautiful and courageous,'” Torba wrote. “When a Christian does it, it’s ‘dangerous and extreme’. ”

And groups affiliated with former Trump adviser Stephen Miller have flooded voters with ads and flyers in recent days claiming the Democratic Party is “anti-white” for efforts to help black Americans. Other messages were directed at Asian American and Latino voters, arguing that they are wronged by Democrats.

“We’re in this last 72-hour window, and this last 72 hours is about grassroots activation,” said Kevin Madden, a former adviser to Mitt Romney during Romney’s 2012 GOP presidential campaign. “It’s all the red meat stuff. There is a class of political civilizations that will take place on election day.

Democrats, on the other hand, are mostly emphasizing centrist messages in the final days of the campaign.

“Given the states we’re talking about — New Hampshire, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada — it makes sense for campaigns to rely on surrogates with the broadest appeal,” said Lis Smith, a Democratic strategist. “They understand that to win this election they have to transform the base, yes, but they also have to talk to voters who are in the middle and on the fence.”

Smith added that former President Barack Obama, who has been on a major campaign tour in recent days, and figures such as Klobuchar and Buttigieg are helpful to Democrats because “they’re not going to alienate the swing voters that these candidates have need to overcome the finish line.”

Klobuchar, who raised his profile among Democratic voters with his 2020 presidential bid, has made campaign stops in 15 states, including marquee races in Arizona, Nevada, Georgia and Pennsylvania. His message focused on democratically lowering prescription drug prices and protecting Social Security and Medicare.

Buttigieg held 14 events over the weekend in Michigan, New Hampshire and Nevada. He spoke about the economy, calling this year’s midterm elections a “cost of living election.”

Democrats even looked across the aisle for help: Former Congressman Jim Greenwood, a Republican, appeared at a rally for Shapiro and Senate hopeful Jon Fetterman in Pennsylvania.

High-level party liberals such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) did not make appearances in major races. A spokesperson for Ocasio-Cortez noted that she appeared at a youth rally in California last month and openly expressed her support for Hochul.

Over the past few days, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has been a campaign-seeking surrogate, holding rallies in key states but, in most cases, not appearing with candidates on the ballot.

Sanders appeared at a rally in Madison, Wis., on Friday night after Democratic Senate candidate Mandela Barnes, who is seeking to unseat Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), staged a campaign stop in the liberal city. Sanders urged a crowd of around 1,000 to vote for Barnes, but did not mention Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat who is also in a close race. A Sanders aide said that because the events were funded by an outside group, candidates could not run under campaign finance laws.

At least one candidate takes a stand-alone approach.

When asked who in the Democratic Party he would like to nominate him in his Senate bid, Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio said he’s not campaigning with anyone. Musician Dave Matthews and former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar had been his go-to substitutes, he said.

“I want to be the face of this; I want to be on my own,” Ryan said. “I had the strength to assume my own party. I had the strength to agree with the Republicans when needed.

In Gahanna, Ohio on Sunday, Ryan pointed to a group of seven construction workers following his campaign bus on Harley-Davidson motorcycles and said, “I just don’t think Ohio is a place where they follow someone’s approval. We are a very independent state, which is why they want an independent senator.

Linskey and McGoogan reported from Ohio. Itkowitz reported from Pennsylvania. Ruby Cramer in New York, Sabrina Rodriguez in Hiram, Georgia, and Isaac Arnsdorf in Sioux City, Iowa contributed to this report.


Washington

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