President Obama on Sunday made his final appeal to voters not to vote for Republicans on Tuesday, capping off a two-day four-state campaign swing that was limited to Democratic strongholds because of how unpopular his policies have proven in many battleground races.
Obama gave his standard stump speech to a crowd estimated at 8,000 people in Cleveland, focusing on the difference between his policies over the last 22 months and those of Republicans over the previous eight years.
“You hear them now talking about how they’re going to cut debt and deficits. These are the folks who ran up the deficit,” Obama said. “We have tried what they are selling and we are not going back.”
The president, in noting that Republican leaders have indicated an unwillingness to work with him, made one offhand remark about the GOP’s confidence heading into midterm elections where they are expected to take back control of the House and greatly reduce the Democratic majority in the Senate.
“I guess they’re feeling cocky,” Obama said.
Obama was introduced by Vice President Joe Biden, and appeared on stage after his speech with Gov. Ted Strickland, who is running for reelection and looks like he may fend off a strong challenge from Republican John Kasich, and with Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, who is being trounced in the polls by Republican Rob Portman in the state’s U.S. Senate race.
The president himself indicated the reason why Democrats are set for big losses, by alluding, perhaps unintentionally, to the gap in enthusiasm between conservative and liberal voters.
“If everyone who fought for change in 2008 shows up to vote in 2010, we will win this election,” the president said. But poll after poll has noted a clear lack of intensity among Democratic voters, while Republicans and independents are highly motivated to cast a vote against the direction Obama has taken the country over the last two years.
Democrats have denied such a gap exists.
“This enthusiasm gap has not materialized,” Mitch Stewart, the director of Organizing for America, an offshoot of Obama’s presidential campaign structure, said on Saturday.
But even at the president’s rally inside Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center, there were 5,000 empty seats inside the auditorium with a capacity of 13,000.
The Democratic National Committee said that almost 250,000 people have attended rallies with Obama “in the past several weeks.”
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who has emerged as one of Obama’s most vociferous critics on the right, and is unquestionably now one of the Republican Party’s leaders, took a turn Sunday in giving a counterpoint to the president’s message.
Palin, in an interview on Fox News Sunday, predicted a “political earthquake” on Tuesday.
Voters, Palin said, are “going to say you blew it, President Obama. We gave you the two years to fulfill your promise of making sure that our economy starts roaring back to life again, and instead, I believe things are getting worse.”