IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Big guns push midterm campaigns into high gear

President Barack Obama warns against a return to the past while former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin invokes a past president Saturday as each lead midterm election rallies.
Image: Sarah Palin, Barack Obama
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin addresses a Republican rally in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, the same day President Barack Obama addresses a Democratic rally in Minneapolis, Minn.Reuters, AP
/ Source: NBC News and news services

President Barack Obama warned against a return to the past while former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin invoked a past president's name Saturday as each led midterm election rallies thousands of miles and millions of voters apart.

Obama closed a four-day campaign swing ahead of the Nov. 2 elections by imploring supporters to defeat the conventional wisdom that Democrats face steep losses. He cast the choice Election Day as one between the economic policies "that got us into this mess" and the policies leading the nation out.

Palin, at a Republican rally in Orlando, Fla., claimed Obama and other Democratic leaders created more debt instead of jobs by funding "shovel-ready" projects such as a $3 million Tallahasee turtle tunnel.

"We know what he's shoveling and it's not asphalt," Palin said.

Republicans rally in Orlando
"The momentum is with us but now is not the time to let up; now is the time to dig deep," Palin said with 10 days to go until the elections. Hundreds of Republicans with "Fire Pelosi" and "Listen to Me!" signs clapped, hooted and waved American flags in the ballroom of the Marriott World Center near Walt Disney World. The gathering was cast as a fundraising rally but had the feel of a county fair.

Palin said Obama needs to apologize to the 14.8 million people unemployed in the U.S.

"You know, the president is now telling us that we're not thinking straight because of all the fear and frustration," Palin said. "You know Mr. President, you have it right on one point there. We are afraid, knowing that your economic policies are driving us off a cliff."

Palin referred to the rally as a "Reagan crowd," and invoked late President Ronald Reagan's name several times, noting he was for "the little guy."

"What I love best is he didn't waste time looking back," Palin said.

She also praised Reagan's outlook on keeping the nation safe.

"Remember the national security policy back then, that was lived out by (former Florida Gov.) Jeb and (former President) G.W. Bush, of we win and they lose."

Palin said the nation needed to follow Reagan's philosophy on the government's economic policy.

"Before spending more or borrowing or printing, adopt the test of Reagan: Will it empower the individual and make us reach for the stars?"

Palin also suggested Floridians watch her upcoming "docu-series" reality show, "Sarah Palin's Alaska", which will debut next month and focus on the northern U.S. state's outdoor attractions.

In a joking reference, she predicted defeat for Obama in the 2012 presidential election, saying her TV show would be followed by a sequel called "Barack Obama's Golf Courses", which she said would start up "sometime November 2012".

Appearing with Palin were top GOP fundraisers, Republican national committee members and conservative activists such as anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist. The former Alaska governor also was joined by Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio.

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele thanked Tea Party supporters for their contributions to the Republican Party.

"They restored our faith in the Constitution," Steele said.

President in Minneapolis
"All they've got is the same old stuff that they were peddling over the last decade," Obama said of Republicans. "I just don't want to relive the past." He said: "The other side is betting on amnesia. It is up to you to show them that you have not forgotten."

Obama rallied in Minneapolis to help former senator Mark Dayton in his race for governor against Republican state legislator Tom Emmer and the Independence Party's Tom Horner, a public relations executive and political pundit. Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty's second term runs out in January.

"Mark Dayton has spent his life working for Minnesota and now I need all of you to fight for Mark Dayton," Obama told a crowd estimated at 11,000 by the University of Minnesota, where he spoke.

It's been a grueling four days of campaigning and fundraising by the president, who since Wednesday had touched down in Oregon, Washington state, California and Nevada. He has been helping congressional allies, such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, in tight races.

Cheered at large rallies at every stop, Obama begins his basic speech with some flattering talk about the local candidate. Then he launches into his message that voting Republican would be a mistake for the country.

"This election is a choice between the policies that got us into this mess and the policies that are leading us out of it," he told the Minnesota rally.

Voters are angry about the economy, unemployment and other issues and, according to polls, seem intent on taking out their frustrations on Democrats — the party in power at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue — on Nov. 2.

But Obama is trying to remind the broad coalition that helped elect him in 2008 — women, Hispanics, minorities, and young voters — that change has always been slow to come but is coming, so they should not give up.

"Don't let them tell you that change isn't possible," Obama said. "It's just hard, that's all."