WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said the fate of his policy agenda would depend on having allies in Congress as he pressed supporters to turn out and vote in a bid to minimize his Democrats’ losses in Tuesday’s congressional elections.
“Everybody who is listening: Just remember, the future is yours to shape. But if you don’t get involved, somebody is going to shape it for you ... one of the best ways to do that is to vote today,” Obama said in an interview on Los Angeles radio station KPWR.
With the midterm elections shaping up as a referendum on his first two years, Obama insisted his administration had accomplished a lot after taking office in the midst of the worst financial crisis in decades.
He cited a return to economic growth — albeit slow and halting — plus a sweeping healthcare overhaul and a U.S. troop drawdown in Iraq among his achievements.
Obama acknowledged that job growth is slower than it needs to be but said he would keep the focus on reducing unemployment as well as improving education.
“Across the board, things have gotten better over the last two years. We can only keep it up if I’ve got some friends and allies in Congress and statehouses,” Obama, speaking from the Oval Office, said on the youth-oriented radio station’s whose slogan is “Where hip hop lives.”
Despite that, deep voter anxiety over a stumbling economic recovery and persistently high unemployment are widely expected to translate into heavy Democratic losses, including Republican seizure of the House of Representatives.
Loss of the House could put the brakes on Obama’s legislative agenda, unless he can find a way to work with Republicans.
Obama was battling an “enthusiasm gap,” with polls showing Republicans more likely than Democrats to vote on Tuesday.
Reporting by Matt Spetalnick, Editing by Sandra Maler