Final week of campaigning before key US vote

Democrats insist they can hold on to Congress in upcoming elections.

Washington: US President Barack Obama`s Democrats were in the final full week of campaigning on Monday, insisting they can hold on to Congress in upcoming elections, but Republicans vowed to wrest control of the House and Senate.

Heavyweights and insiders from the two political parties argue that both chambers of Congress can be won come November 02.

Many experts and analysts predict an outcome in between, with Republicans winning a majority in the House and Democrats holding on to the Senate.

Conservatives have claimed that this year`s momentum -- propelled by continued voter anxiety over a sluggish economic recovery and
mounting frustration with Washington -- has swung in their favour, while both parties readily admit Obama has failed to articulate his successes to Americans.

But the Democratic leadership was trying to assert it could still carry election day.

"I think it`s going to be close," Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman Tim Kaine said about retaining control of the House.

"We`ve got work to do, but we think we can do it," he told ABC`s ‘This Week’.

Representative Chris Van Hollen, who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said on CBS show `Face the Nation` that he was "confident the Democrats are going to retain their majority”.

But non-partisan tracker RealClearPolitics said average national polling data favoured Republican candidates by a 7.7-percent spread, and put the battle for the House at 222 safely Republican seats versus 177 safely Democratic seats, with 36 toss-ups.

In the 100-seat Senate, Republicans need a 10-seat swing, a result that may be beyond them after several races tightened in favour of Democrats in recent days, and a scenario of six or seven seats changing hands seems more likely.

But Kaine`s Republican counterpart Michael Steele said Republicans were riding an "unprecedented wave" of anti-Obama, anti-incumbent anger that would lead to a surprise sweep of both chambers.

"The voters are tired of the fact that the federal government has not listened to them over the past two years, has moved in its own direction, at its own rhythm, and they want to pull back on that," he told NBC`s `Meet the Press`.

Conservative advisor Karl Rove, the former top strategist to president George W Bush and credited with being the architect of the Republican election triumphs in 2000 and 2004, said his party was on the verge of a similar outcome, thanks to an army of grassroots groups "who want to do something to save America”.

Republicans, he told CBS, could take as many as 69 seats in the House and eight or nine seats in the Senate.

The parties` late sales pitches come amid a renewed flurry of campaigning by the president for his troubled Democrats, who stand accused of failing to articulate the successes of Obama`s administration to the American people.

In widely reported recent comments, former DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe said former president Bill Clinton was "baffled and bewildered" about the lack of a coherent Democratic message going into the campaign`s home stretch, and wondered "why we allowed ourselves to become human pinatas" at the mercy of aggressive Republican charges of wasteful spending and mishandling of the economy.

Kaine insisted Democrats have been "out campaigning vigorously on accomplishments”.

"We saved the auto industry. We saved the financial sector... and have done historic health care reform," he said. "People understand that."

In recent campaign appearances before large crowds, Obama branded Republicans as radical and reactionary, but he also took responsibility for not touting administration policies that he said have brought the economy back from the brink.

"Our attitude was, we just had to get the policy right, and we didn`t always think about making sure we were advertising properly what was going on," Obama said.

Bureau Report