WORLD Control of Congress in US still undecided


Control of Congress in US still undecided

China Daily

12:26, November 10, 2022

US President Joe Biden says during a post-election news conference Wednesday at the White House that he intends to run a second term "regardless of what the outcome of this election was". (Photo: China Daily)

US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that he would not change course in the remaining two years of his term despite voter concerns and that he intended to run for re-election.

In his first public comments on the outcome of the midterm elections, where control of Congress had not been determined as of Wednesday night, Biden said the administration knew that voters "spoke clearly about their concerns" about record inflation, crime, public safety and other issues.

"The voters were also clear that they're still frustrated," he said at the White House. "I get it."

A Politico-Morning Consult poll, conducted in advance of Tuesday's midterm election, revealed that 70 percent of voters say the country is on the wrong track.

Still, Biden told reporters he had little interest in changing his agenda in the next two years.

"I'm not going to change anything in any fundamental way," Biden said, adding that the benefit of his policies, such as infrastructure projects and cutting prescription drug costs, "takes time to be recognized".

On inflation, he conceded that, "I can't guarantee that we're going to be able to get rid of inflation, but I do think we can."

The Democratic president said his party had a "strong night" in the midterms, noting that a "giant red wave," as predicted by the media and pundits, didn't happen.

In the run-up to the elections, there were many polls and analyses pointing to Republicans sweeping Congress.

"Regardless of what the final tally of these elections show, and there's still some counting going on, I'm prepared to work with my Republican colleagues," Biden said.

Asked about concerns that if Republicans they take control of the House, they will investigate his administration and family, Biden said, "I think the American people will look at all that for what it is, almost comedy."

Joking that first lady Jill Biden, who was at the news conference, was "a lot more popular" than him in the Democratic Party, Biden said it's "ultimately a family decision" about whether to run for a second term.

"Our intention is to run again. That's been our intention, regardless of what the outcome of this election was," Biden said.

The president, whose 80th birthday is Nov 20, said he doesn't "feel any hurry one way or another" about making an announcement, which could come early next year.

Asked whether he would prefer to face former president Donald Trump or Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Biden said: "It'll be fun watching them take on each other."

Senate races in Nevada, Arizona and Georgia could determine which party controls the chamber. Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia, a Democrat, and his Republican challenger, Herschel Walker, are headed for a Dec 6 runoff, so the Senate might not be decided for a few weeks.

Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California and the minority leader, on Wednesday announced he was running for speaker even before it was clear his party would control the House. In a letter to his Republican colleagues, McCarthy expressed confidence that the GOP would win control of the chamber, even with several competitive races that could determine the majority still undecided.

The red wave "definitely" didn't happen, South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Tuesday, "that's for darn sure".

What happened was Democrats apparently defied history — that the sitting president loses both houses of Congress most of the time — and expectations with a surprisingly strong performance Tuesday.

They won hotly contested contests for governor in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Maine, New Mexico and New York.

While Republicans cited high inflation, high prices and crime as top voting issues, Democrats said they were more motivated by abortion rights and gun violence, exit polls showed.

Trump was betting Republican wins on Tuesday would serve as a launchpad for his 2024 presidential campaign, which he is expected to announce next week. But he didn't get the victories he had hoped his endorsements would produce.

Candidates who embraced Trump's MAGA agenda, in part to win his endorsement, underperformed in some of the most high-profile races, although The Washington Post estimated that at least 159 Republicans who had denied the 2020 election results had won their races on Tuesday.

In one of the country's most high-profile races, Trump's handpicked Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, Dr Mehmet Oz, lost to Democratic Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman. The result cost the GOP a Senate seat.

In Michigan, Trump-endorsed Republican Tudor Dixon lost the governor's race to Democratic incumbent Gretchen Widmer, while Kristina Karamo, who also doubted the 2020 election results, lost her Trump-backed bid for secretary of state.

In Arizona, Kari Lake, a former newscaster turned gubernatorial candidate who is one of Trump's most high-profile proteges, was in a race with Democrat Katie Hobbs that was too close to call.

Perhaps the biggest Republican victory came from Trump's most likely rival for the GOP nomination in the 2024 GOP presidential race: DeSantis. He won re-election by nearly 20 percentage points.

He was first elected governor after receiving an endorsement from then-president Trump. But Trump declined to endorse him this time around, however, Trump, a Florida resident, told reporters that he voted for the incumbent on Tuesday.

Days earlier, Trump called him "Ron DeSanctimonious" at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania. On Tuesday, Trump told reporters DeSantis shouldn't consider entering the presidential race. If he does, Trump said, "I would tell you things about him that won't be very flattering — I know more about him than anybody — other than, perhaps, his wife."

Trump did have some big wins on Tuesday. In Ohio, Republican US Senate candidate J.D. Vance defeated Tim Ryan, a Democratic US congressman, to win one of the country's most hotly contested seats.

In North Carolina, Trump-backed Republican Senate candidate Ted Budd defeated Democrat Cheri Beasley. In deep-red Alabama, the heavily favored Republican, Katie Britt, also won her Senate seat.

Red-leaning states that Trump won in 2020 like Ohio, Florida and North Carolina still went Republican on Tuesday. And many of Trump's preferred candidates weren't overwhelmingly rejected by voters, instead losing by a small margin.

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