PORTLAND Me. (Reuters) - Wistful about fighting his last campaign, President Barack Obama touted a burst of U.S. economic growth on Thursday to try to limit Democratic losses in next week’s elections, in a speech at one of the few voter rallies he is attending.
Obama seized on government figures that said the U.S. economy grew at a rate of 3.5 percent in the third quarter to suggest his policies are working and that electing Democrats will help the middle class.
But with polls showing Republicans poised to gain seats and possibly seize control of the U.S. Senate on Election Day on Tuesday, Obama’s argument may not be enough to sway voters who have been expressing doubts about his leadership.
“We’ve created more jobs here in the United States over the last six years than Japan, Europe and all of the advanced nations combined,” Obama said at a campaign rally. “We’ve made real progress. But what’s also true is the gains of a growing economy have not been fully felt by everybody.”
Obama traveled to Maine to campaign on behalf of Democratic Representative Mike Michaud, who is seeking to unseat the state’s Republican governor, Paul LePage, in a closely fought race.
Obama’s job approval rating of about 40 percent has made him unwelcome in a handful of contested states where the Senate will be decided.
He has spent months raising money for Democratic candidates and just in recent days began appearing at rallies in relatively friendly areas. He’ll be in Rhode Island on Friday for an economic speech and appear at campaign events in Michigan, Connecticut and Pennsylvania over the weekend.
“I’m not on the ballot this time and this is the last election cycle in which I’m involved as president,” he told about 3,000 people at the Portland Expo. “It makes you a little wistful, because I do like campaigning. It’s fun.”Obama laced his comments with criticism of Republicans, who control the U.S. House of Representatives and need six seats to take command of the Senate.
“Look, Republicans are patriots. They love this country. They love their families. There are all kinds of good people in the Republican Party. But they’ve got some bad ideas.”
“Which is okay. I mean, there are a lot of folks in my family who’ve got bad ideas. I love ‘em. But I don’t want them in charge of stuff,” he said.
Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Bernard Orr