Republicans Call For Midterms "Referendum" On Obama

Tuesday's midterm elections in the US are for seats in Congress, not the White House, but Republicans are calling it a referendum on Barack Obama, with Sarah Palin predicting a "political earthquake".

Tuesday's midterm elections in the US are for seats in Congress, not the White House, but Republicans are calling it a referendum on Barack Obama, with Sarah Palin predicting a "political earthquake".


President Obama's Democrat party are set to lose control of the House of Representatives in Tuesday's elections and have its majority in the Senate reduced, according to the polls.

In the House of Representatives, where all 435 seats are up for election on Tuesday, at least 65 - most held by Democrats - are at risk of changing political hands. Republicans need 39 to win back control of the House.

In the Senate, Republicans need to net 10 of the 37 seats up for election.

The President has been facing rising complaints from those who supported him in the 2008 election, that he has not done enough for their causes during his time in office, such as ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, closing the Guantanamo military prison and reforming the immigration system.

President Barack Obama at a rally at the Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, Connecticut, ahead of the Midterm Elections. He was heckled by AIDS activists (credit:Reuters)

Barack Obama finished the weekend as he began it, rallying his supporters to fight to maintain the course set when he won the election in 2008 at events on on YouTube. He needs to draw enough voters to save the Democratic majority in the Senate, even if the House is lost.

He used the Connecticut speech to urged his supporters to re-discover their excitement from the 2008 presidential election. He is urging voters not to use the elections as a referendum on his time in office.

But he was heckled by student activists from a global AIDS pressure group, who interrupted the speech for several minutes.

The group, made up of public health, law and medical students from Harvard and Yale, demanded that the US keep its promise to fund global AIDS initiatives. The protest was eventually drowned out by chants of "Obama" and escorted out of the arena.

President Obama told them: "What we would suggest, I think it would make a lot more sense, for you guys to go to the folks who aren't interested in funding global AIDS and chant at that rally because we're trying to focus on figuring how to finance the things that you want financed."

President Obama also travelled to Philadelphia and Chicago on Saturday.

"Unless each and every one of you turn out and get your friends to turn out and get your families to turn out then we could fall short and all the progress that we've made over the last couple of years can be rolled back," Obama told volunteers in Philadelphia.

In Chicago he told supporters: "We've got a lot of work to do, not only to move the country forward but to make sure that the progress we've made continues."

A midterm loss does not necessarily mean a one-term presidency. Both Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan were less popular at the same stage than Barack Obama is now and both went on to serve second terms.

But a massively reduced Democratic majority must similarly reduce Barack Obama's ability to deliver on the promises that made him president.


Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

Tens of thousands of people turned out for the "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear" in Washington, organised by comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert ahead of the elections.

The rally was called in reaction to the right wing Rally to Restore Honor two months ago, which was organised by conservative talk show host Glenn Beck.

The Comedy Central hosts avoided referring to the battle between Democrats and Republicans for control of Congress in Tuesday's elections.

But Stewart took on a left-leaning persona advocating a "return to sanity," while Colbert called for a "return to fear".