Bush hits GOP outposts, Dems optimistic
AP - Democrats were starting to taste what they hope will be victory in one if not both chambers of Congress. Republicans, meanwhile, were playing down indications that many of their incumbents were in trouble.
With congressional elections four days away, campaign officials for the Democratic Party were feeling optimistic that they would retake the House with a 15-seat gain and had a chance of netting six seats for a majority in the Senate.
House Democrats have expanded their advertising efforts into numerous races once thought safe for Republicans. Strategists in both parties said nearly 20 Republican-held seats could tip either way in a belt of states stretching from Connecticut through New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana.
Republican strategists have written off the re-election prospects of incumbent Sens. Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania and Mike DeWine in Ohio, as well as six or more seats in GOP hands in the House. Dozens more Republican lawmakers were struggling to survive.
Prominent among the GOP's positive thinkers was President Bush, who was undertaking a get-out-the-vote drive via Air Force One.
"We've been through this before," Bush said Thursday while visiting Billings, Mont., on behalf of Sen. Conrad Burns (news, bio, voting record). "We will win the Senate and we will win the House."
Democrats said they were ahead in many races because of the public's growing dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq. Polls show that a clear majority of Americans see the war as a mistake and far fewer support the president's handling of it.
Bush, undeterred, continued to argue that Democrats had no plan to win the war.
"The White House seems to be playing into our hands," Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-Ill., told reporters as he offered a positive preview of his party's prospects. "In an effort to strengthen their base, they keep reminding the public that there's not going to be any change in Iraq."
Despite the undeniable trouble they confronted, some Republicans said they had made gains in recent days in at least some races that had earlier looked lost.
Burns' race was one. Once far behind Democratic challenger Jon Tester in public and private polls, he appeared to have closed the gap. Democrats said they were not worried, but Bush's visit, combined with a late infusion of cash by the GOP senatorial committee, suggested Republicans had not given up.
GOP strategists said their prospects appeared relatively bright for a seat in Texas that former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay once held. The Republican candidate, Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, is running as a write-in contender after the party lost a court fight to replace DeLay's name on the ballot, which complicated GOP efforts to hold a seat in a strongly Republican district.
Last edited by motivez; 11-03-2006 at 04:21 AM..