WASHINGTON (HPD) — An election year played out against the backdrop of economic turbulence, the elimination of federal abortion rights and widespread concerns about the future of democracy concludes with one last full day of campaigning as leaders of both parties will make urgent appeals to their supporters.
President Joe Biden will hold a rally Monday night in Maryland, where Democrats have one of their best chances to retake the governorship from Republicans. The appearance fits with Biden’s closing campaign strategy of sticking largely to Democratic strongholds rather than going into more contested territory, where control of Congress may ultimately be decided.
His predecessor, Donald Trump, will hold his last campaign rally in Ohio. That state holds special meaning for the former president as he prepares another run for the White House because it was one of the first places he was able to demonstrate his enduring power among Republican voters. Trump’s endorsement of JD Vance was crucial in helping the author and venture capitalist — and former Trump critic — secure the GOP nomination for a Senate seat.
With more than 41 million votes already cast, Monday’s focus will be on ensuring supporters meet early voting deadlines or make plans to show up in person on Tuesday. The results will have a powerful impact on the final two years of Biden’s presidency, shaping policy on everything from government spending to military support for Ukraine.
In the first national election since the violent uprising on January 6, the final days of the campaign focused on fundamental questions about the nation’s political values.
Campaigning in New York for Gov. Kathy Hochul on Sunday, Biden said Republicans were willing to condone last year’s assault on Capitol Hill and that, after the recent attack on Paul Pelosi, husband of House Speaker of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, some in that party “played it down” or were “making excuses.”
“There has never been a time in my career when we have glorified violence based on political preference,” the president said.
Meanwhile, at a Trump rally Sunday night in Miami, a reference to Nancy Pelosi prompted chants of “Lock her up!” — a stark reminder of the nation’s deep divide.
Trump was campaigning for the re-election of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, but he was also focused on his own political future. After telling a crowd in Iowa last week that he would “very, very, very likely” run for president again, he hinted at that possibility again on Sunday and encouraged his supporters to attend his rally in Ohio.
“I’ll probably have to do it again, but stay tuned,” Trump said, building interest for Monday’s event. “We have a great, great rally. Stay tuned for tomorrow night.”
The Miami event was not attended by Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is seeking re-election against Democrat Charlie Crist and is widely considered Trump’s most fearsome contender if he, too, were to seek the Republican White House nomination.
DeSantis held separate events of his own Sunday in other parts of the state where he stuck to the centerpieces of his re-election campaign, including railing against COVID-19 vaccine mandates. The governor’s counterpolitical programming avoided antagonizing Trump, thus missing out on the 2024 dueling events that could be in his and Trump’s near future.
Trump said on Sunday that Florida “will be re-electing Ron DeSantis as its governor.” But he was more belligerent during a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday, referring to the Florida governor as “Ron DeSanctimonious.”
It’s a rivalry that has been simmering for more than a year, as DeSantis has taken increasingly bold steps to boost his national profile and build a deep fundraising network, even as Trump remains unquestionably the most popular leader of the party.
For national Democrats, meanwhile, the focus is on their tight control of the House and Senate, which could evaporate after Tuesday.
Voters may rebuke the party that controls the White House and Congress amid rising inflation, crime concerns and pessimism about the country’s direction. History suggests that the party in power will suffer considerable losses in the midterm elections.
Biden has argued that the nation’s very democracy is on the ballot, and the first lady went to Texas on Sunday to sound a similar alarm.
“The stakes are high in this election,” Jill Biden said in Houston. “We must raise our voices in defense of justice and democracy.”
Traveling in Chicago, Vice President Kamala Harris said: “These attacks on our democracy will not only directly impact the people of our country, but possibly the entire world.”
Trump has long falsely claimed that he lost the 2020 election solely because Democrats cheated and has even begun raising the possibility of voter fraud this year. Federal intelligence agencies are warning of the possibility of political violence by far-right extremists.
Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, called Democrats “inflation deniers,” trying to evade the anti-democratic label opponents give her party for rejecting the results of the free and fair 2020 presidential election simply because Trump lost them.
“If we take back the House and the Senate, it’s the American people who are saying to Joe Biden, we want him to work on our behalf and we want him to work with the opposition to solve the problems that we’re dealing with,” McDaniel told CNN.