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Americas

Obama cites voter frustration in midterm losses

Video by Nicolas Germain

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-11-04

A day after Democrats sustained heavy losses in US midterm legislative elections, President Barack Obama said the results showed that Americans remain deeply frustrated with the pace of economic recovery.

Speaking one day after President Barack Obama’s Democrats suffered significant losses in Tuesday’s midterm elections; Obama took responsibility for voter frustration and vowed to work with Republicans.

However, he said that he did not believe the results were a direct repudiation of his left-wing policies, notably federal (public) spending and healthcare reform.



In Tuesday’s crucial vote, Republicans reversed the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives and made important gains in the Senate, where President Barack Obama’s party just barely held on to its lead.

In a press conference on Wednesday, President Barack Obama said he was willing to work with both political parties so that they can “figure out how we can move forward together.''

“It won't be easy,'' he warned, noting the two parties differ profoundly in some key areas including immigration, climate change, healthcare and education.

Obama also took direct responsibility for the slow economy. "I think that there is no doubt that people's number one concern is the economy. And what they were expressing great frustration about is the fact that we haven't made enough progress on the economy," he said.

Addressing healthcare, Obama stated that he was willing to work with Republicans on "tweaks.”

"If the Republicans have ideas for how to improve our healthcare system, if they want to suggest modifications that would deliver faster, more effective reform ... I am happy to consider some of those ideas," Obama added

Republican challenge

Meanwhile jubilant Republicans vowed to slash the size of the US government and challenge President Barack Obama's agenda.

"It's pretty clear the American people want a smaller, less costly, more accountable government here in Washington, D.C.", said leading Republican John Boehner, who is expected to take the reins as Speaker of the House from Democrat Nancy Pelosi when the new Congress begins work in January.

Boehner also vowed to repeal landmark health care and Wall Street reforms pushed into law by the Obama administration.

The predicted Republican gains in Congress will likely bring about legislative gridlock. Most, if not all Republicans, had campaigned heavily on the promise to fight the passage of legislation favoured by the President. Although Obama was able to pass comprehensive health and finance sector reforms, major legislation on income-tax cuts, energy and immigration policy is still pending.

But Republicans would have trouble advancing legislation past a Democratic-controlled Senate and Obama's power of veto. Therefore, despite Republican aspirations, the reality is that they will find it very difficult to repeal legislation.

Tea Party boost

Republicans took control of the House by picking up at least 60 seats, leaving them with a decisive majority. The Democrats managed to maintain a slim lead in the Senate with 51 seats to the Republicans' 46.

As opinion polls and analysts predicted in the run-up to the vote, a Republican tide boosted by the rise of the conservative Tea Party was the major trend of this elections
Florida Republican Marco Rubio and Kentucky Republican Rand Paul became the first Tea Party-backed candidates to win Senate seats, signalling a political future for the anti-establishment movement that has been the big story of the midterms.

Republican candidates also won Senate races in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and further rubbed salt into the wound by taking Obama's old Senate seat in Illinois.
Republicans also made net gains at the state level, picking up eight governor seats previously held by Democrats. In New Mexico, outspoken district attorney Susana Martinez, also a devout fan of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, became the first female Hispanic governor in the country. In South Carolina Republican candidate Nikki Haley became the country’s first Indian-American governor.

The Republicans lost control of the House of Representatives back in 2006.

But not all Tea Party stars were giving victory speeches. As expected in Delaware, Republican Christine O’Donnell lost the Senate match-up to Democrat Christopher Coons.

Senate wins by incumbent Democrats Barbara Boxer in California, Ron Wyden in Oregon and Harry Reid in Nevada, brought a huge sigh of relief to their party as it struggled to preserve its majority in the upper chamber. Democrats Michael Bennett in Colorado and Patty Murray in Washington were also clinging to slim leads in their Senate races as votes were still being counted.

All 435 seats in the House of Representatives were contested on Tuesday, and around one-third of the 100 Senate seats. Voters nationwide also voted for state legislation and officials.

In a sign of how this election gripped the American public’s imagination, several local US media organisations reported better-than-expected turnout for the vote.

Date created : 2010-11-03

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