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Biden and Trump in latest effort to bolster support ahead of midterms

US President Joe Biden will address a rally in New York, and former President Donald Trump will speak in Florida to cheer up Americans two days before a contested midterm election that Republicans are pushing to change both houses of Congress.

Democratic leaders have stepped up their efforts to galvanize support, shifting their message days before the crucial election that will decide the fate of Biden’s legislative agenda for the next two years.

Biden’s Democrats have struggled to persuade voters on tabletop issues like four-decade high inflation.

Also working against the party is Biden’s unpopularity, which led him to refrain from campaigning in some swing states. Only 40 percent of Americans approve of his job performance, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll completed on Tuesday.

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For Democrats, Sunday’s rallies in traditionally pro-party areas are a last-minute opportunity to minimize Tuesday’s losses.

Biden will appear in Westchester County, normally safe Democratic territory but where Republicans threaten to make gains, thanks in part to unrelenting messaging that paints his opponents as soft on crime and inflation.

The president travels to New York to support Governor Kathy Hochul, who is facing an unexpectedly strong Republican challenge.

The US president joined forces with Democratic superstar Barack Obama in the battleground state of Pennsylvania a day earlier, campaigning alongside Senate hopeful John Fetterman and gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro.

Speaking before thousands at a Philadelphia stadium, Biden cited Trump supporters’ growing belief in conspiracy theories to highlight the stakes.

“Democracy is literally on the ballot. This is a defining moment for the nation,” Biden warned as he sought to lead his party to the finish line.

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‘The Democrats have changed the messages’

Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher, reporting from Washington, said Democrats changed their campaign message last week after what they had been emphasizing failed to move voters, who instead focused on the country’s economic situation.

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“For so long, Joe Biden has been talking about the threat to democracy … but that hasn’t resonated with voters,” he said, adding that voters have been more responsive to economic problems.

“So he started talking more about the economy and how he thinks it has helped the middle class in America,” Fischer said.

The change comes late in the game. Nearly 40 million Americans have already cast their ballots in early voting.

Republicans are confident of Tuesday’s victories, but Democrats have balked at the narrative of an inevitable Republican takeover of Congress.

“We’re going to keep this majority,” Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, who heads the campaign arm of the Democratic Congress, told NBC television’s Meet the Press.

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Maloney, who is facing a close race, described the election as “very close” and implicitly questioned the Republicans’ commitment to democracy.

“We have all kinds of things that we can do better, but we are responsible adults who believe in this democracy,” Maloney said of his fellow Democrats.

bullish republicans

Republicans promised on Sunday to make a “wake-up call” to Biden and retake Congress.

The latest polls have put Democrats on the defensive, with Sen. Rick Scott, chairman of the Republican National Senatorial Committee, summing up his party’s mood by predicting “a great night” in both houses of Congress.

Fellow Republican Glenn Youngkin, the governor of Virginia, told the ABC News This Week talk show that his field was one that “offered common-sense solutions” to pressing problems like high inflation and crime.

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“This will be a wake-up call for President Biden,” Youngkin said.

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Republican figurehead Trump has doubled down on voting conspiracy theories as he spoke at a rally on Saturday to boost Fetterman’s opponent, famed TV doctor Mehmet Oz.

In a rambling speech, Trump defended his attempts to overturn the 2020 election, urged Americans to “vote Republican in a giant red wave” and mocked a possible 2024 White House bid.

“I promise you that in the next, very, very, very short period of time, you will be very happy,” Trump told supporters.

Trump will appear in Miami alongside the state’s two US senators and several US representatives. Florida has flipped from one party to another for years, but it has recently gone Republican and is not considered a major battleground in this election.

Trump’s frequent rallies keep his profile high as he considers launching a third White House bid after the midterm elections, aides said. Florida could be a battleground in any nominating contest because strategists see its Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, as a formidable contender for the GOP nomination, should he jump into the fray.

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Trump’s support is credited with helping DeSantis win the gubernatorial race in 2018, but the two men are now rivals. That has made DeSantis a target for Trump, who called the governor “Ron DeSanctimonious” on Saturday night.

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