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Political Notebook

Obama prods Democrats to get busy for November

President Obama, shown yesterday with New Mexico’s lieutenant governor, Diane Denish, at an Albuquerque restaurant, led the first of four large rallies for the campaign homestretch. President Obama, shown yesterday with New Mexico’s lieutenant governor, Diane Denish, at an Albuquerque restaurant, led the first of four large rallies for the campaign homestretch. (Charles Dharapak/Associated Press)
September 29, 2010

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ALBUQUERQUE — Buck up. Stop whining. And get to work.

Clearly frustrated by Republicans’ energy — and his own party’s lack of enthusiasm — President Obama scolded fellow Democrats even as he rallied them yesterday in an effort to save the party from big GOP gains in the crucial midterm elections. In the final month of campaigning, he is trying to reenergize young voters, despondent liberals, and other Democrats whose excitement over his election has dissipated.

“It is inexcusable for any Democrat or progressive right now to stand on the sidelines,’’ the president declared in a Rolling Stone magazine interview. He said that supposed supporters who are “sitting on their hands complaining’’ are irresponsible because the consequence of Republican congressional victories could be dashed Democratic plans.

He gave an example during a backyard conversation with New Mexico voters, contending that Republicans would reverse the progress he has made on education reform and student aid. “That’s the choice that we’ve got in this election,’’ Obama said, underscoring the stakes of Nov. 2 before heading to a rally at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

It was the first of four large rallies planned for the campaign homestretch as the president tries to rekindle some of his 2008 campaign magic and fire up young supporters and others who helped elect Obama but who Democrats fear might stay home this fall. Top lieutenants Vice President Joe Biden, Democratic Party chairman Tim Kaine, and Cabinet members also fanned out on other college campuses to call party foot soldiers to action.

At Penn State University in State College, Pa., Biden noted he was criticized a day earlier in New Hampshire for urging Democrats to “remind our base constituency to stop whining and get out there and look at the alternatives.’’

“All I heard when I got here in Happy Valley was the roar of lion. Folks, it’s time for us to roar,’’ Biden said, pressing his audience to knock on doors, make phone calls, and commit to vote.

With the elections looming, the White House and Democratic Party are focused primarily on trying to compel their core voters — liberals and minority groups — as well as the ideologically broad coalition that helped elect Obama in 2008 to participate in the first congressional elections of his presidency.

They have little choice.

Midterm contests come down largely to which party can get out more of its backers. And polls show that Republicans are far more enthusiastic this year partly because of Tea Party anger. Also, polls show Democrats cannot count on independent voters who carried them to victory in consecutive national elections.

Mindful of that and armed with polling, the White House has said that voters who backed Obama in 2008 must turn out for Democrats this year because the GOP wants to undo what the president has accomplished, that the “hope and change’’ Obama backers embraced two years ago is at risk if Republicans sweep these elections.

— Associated Press

Carter hospitalized with an upset stomach
CLEVELAND — Former president Jimmy Carter, on a trip promoting his new book, developed an upset stomach on a flight to Cleveland yesterday and was staying at a hospital overnight at his doctor’s recommendation.

Carter’s grandson, Georgia state Senator Jason Carter, said his 85-year-old grandfather was doing fine.

“He’s definitely resting comfortably and expected to continue his book tour this week,’’ Jason Carter said. “I haven’t talked to him, but nobody in the family is concerned.’’

The former president planned to stay the night at MetroHealth hospital in Cleveland, according to a statement from the Carter Center, an Atlanta-based nonprofit known for its international work on human rights and public health. He planned to resume his book tour today in Washington D.C.

“He is fully alert and participating in all decision-making related to his care,’’ hospital spokeswoman Christina Karas said. “The decision to admit him overnight is purely precautionary.’’

Carter was a passenger on a Delta Air Lines flight from Atlanta to Cleveland when he became ill. After the plane landed, he was taken off by rescue crews, said Jackie Mayo, a spokeswoman at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

— Associated Press

Democrats break ranks, ask for continuation of tax cuts
WASHINGTON — Forty-seven House Democrats — enough to give Republicans a victory on taxes if the issue came to a vote — are breaking ranks with President Obama by calling on party leaders to continue Bush-era tax cuts on investment income.

The lawmakers, led by Representative John Adler, Democrat of New Jersey, have sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying they strongly support extending the current tax rates on capital gains and dividends.

“Raising taxes on capital gains and dividends could discourage individuals and businesses from saving and investing,’’ said the letter, dated Friday and released yesterday. “We urge you to maintain the current tax rate for both dividend and long-term capital gains taxes.’’

Tax cuts enacted in 2003 set the top tax rate on capital gains and dividends at 15 percent. Those tax cuts expire at the end of the year, and Obama wants to let the top tax rate on capital gains and dividends increase to 20 percent for individuals making more than $200,000 and married couples making more than $250,000.

— Associated Press

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