Biden takes aim at GOP election deniers in the final stretch of campaign
By MJ Lee and Jeremy Diamond, CNNUpdated: Mon, 07 Nov 2022 11:23:56 GMTSource: CNNOn Election Day Eve, President Joe Biden will headline a political rally in Maryland where Democratic gubernatorial noBy MJ Lee and Jeremy Diamond, CNN
Updated: Mon, 07 Nov 2022 11:23:56 GMT
On Election Day Eve, President Joe Biden will headline a political rally in Maryland where Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wes Moore looks poised to become the state's first Black governor.
That final campaign swing before Election Day comes after Biden spent the weekend in New York stumping for Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul, and making yet another visit to Pennsylvania to prop up Democrats including gubernatorial nominee Josh Shapiro and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who is running for Senate in one of the country's most closely watched races.
All of those Democrats have one notable thing in common: they are all taking on Republican opponents who are known election deniers -- or, at the very least, have demonstrated skepticism about the results of the 2020 election.
On Monday, Biden will campaign for Moore, who is widely expected to defeat Republican nominee Dan Cox. Cox has denied the legitimacy of the 2020 election, pushed false conspiracies about the last presidential race, and chartered buses to take supporters to the "Stop the Steal" rally in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021.
GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin, who is running against Hochul in New York's gubernatorial race and is a loyal Donald Trump backer, voted against certifying Biden's election win -- something Hochul has consistently gone after Zeldin for in the race.
Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, Shapiro is running against one of the most well-known and extreme GOP election deniers who has openly spread Trump's lies about election fraud -- Doug Mastriano -- in the state's gubernatorial race. A state senator, Mastriano has pushed false claims about mass voter fraud and worked to try to reverse the results of the last presidential context.
Mehmet Oz, Fetterman's opponent in the Pennsylvania Senate race, has in the past raised questions about the results of the 2020 election, though he also said that he would not have objected to certifying those results were he a member of Congress.
Democratic officials say this underscores the political reality of just how many GOP election deniers there are on the ballot this cycle -- a dynamic that Biden has made a central theme of his political rallying cry in the final stretch before Tuesday.
He delivered a speech last week near Capitol Hill -- where a mob of election deniers breached the legislative building to try to prevent members of Congress from certifying the results of the 2020 election. He called out the numerous Republican candidates on the ballot this week who question the legitimacy of the last -- and possibly also this week's -- election.
"As I stand here today, there are candidates running for every level of office in America -- for governor, for Congress, for attorney general, for secretary of state who won't commit to accepting the results of the elections they're in," Biden said. "That is the path to chaos in America. It's unprecedented. It's unlawful. And it is un-American."
"We're going to have a bad night"
But with control of Congress hanging in the balance, some Democratic strategists have criticized the focus in the final stretch of the campaign on issues related to election integrity as a mistake, given that voters overwhelmingly consider the economy and inflation as their top concern.
Democratic strategist and CNN commentator Hilary Rosen predicted on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that Democrats would have a "bad night" on Tuesday -- in no small part because, she said, Democrats had failed to listen to voters.
"When voters tell you over and over and over again that they care mostly about the economy, listen to them. Stop talking about democracy being at stake," Rosen said. "Democracy is at stake because people are fighting so much about what elections mean. I mean, voters have told us what they wanted to hear and I don't think Democrats have really delivered this cycle."
In a recent CNN poll, 51% of likely voters said the economy and inflation would be most important to them in their congressional vote, far outpacing any other issue. In comparison, just 9% of likely voters, including 15% of Democrats, called "voting rights and election integrity" their top issue.
Biden's final stop before Election Day being in Maryland also marks as a final bookend to his season of midterms campaigning -- it is where he kicked off the midterms back in August.
It should also serve as a "bright spot" for Democrats, said one Democratic official familiar with campaign planning, given that the party feels confident that Moore will defeat Cox there, flipping the governor's mansion -- currently occupied by Republican Larry Hogan -- from red to blue.
Much of Biden's final campaign swing has also been targeted to areas where Democrats hope Biden can drive up enthusiasm and turnout among Democratic voters, rather than trying to persuade undecided voters.
That dynamic was on display Sunday when Biden campaigned in heavily Democratic Westchester County, the New York suburb where Biden captured more than two-thirds of the vote in 2020.
A Democratic official familiar with the planning said Biden's rally was designed to call attention to the closer-than-expected governor's race and help "infuse enthusiasm" into Hochul's campaign in the final days.
A similar dynamic played out as Biden stumped in districts he comfortably won in California and Illinois last week.