US presidents past and present issued dire warnings over the future of the country as campaigning in the 2022 midterm elections entered its final days.
Former US president Donald Trump said America faced destruction if his fellow Republicans do not deliver a massive electoral wave in Tuesday’s 2022 midterm elections.
Democrats, led by President Joe Biden and two other former presidents, have warned that abortion rights, social security and even democracy itself are at stake.
Three of the six living presidents delivered dire closing messages in battleground Pennsylvania entering the final weekend of the 2022 midterm elections, but their words echoed across the country as millions of Americans cast ballots to decide the balance of power in Washington and in key state capitals.
Polls across the United States will close on Tuesday, but more than 39 million people have already voted.
On Sunday, Mr Biden was set to campaign in suburban New York, while Mr Trump was heading to Florida.
“If you want to stop the destruction of our country and save the American dream, then on Tuesday you must vote Republican in a giant red wave,” Mr Trump told thousands of cheering supporters as he campaigned on Saturday in western Pennsylvania, describing the United States as “a country in decline”.
Earlier in the day, Mr Biden shared the stage with former president Barack Obama in Philadelphia, the former running mates campaigning together for the first time since Mr Biden took office.
In neighbouring New York, even former president Bill Clinton, largely absent from national politics in recent years, was out defending his party.
“Sulking and moping is not an option,” Mr Obama said. “On Tuesday, let’s make sure our country doesn’t get set back 50 years.”
Democrats are deeply concerned about their narrow majorities in the House and Senate as voters sour on Mr Biden’s leadership amid surging inflation, crime concerns and widespread pessimism about the direction of the country.
History suggests that Democrats, as the party in power, will suffer significant losses in the midterms.
Mr Trump looked ahead towards Florida as he campaigned in Pennsylvania, and targeted the state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis.
After displaying recent presidential poll numbers on the big screens, Mr Trump called Mr DeSantis, a potential 2024 Republican rival, “Ron DeSanctimonious”.
Mr Trump’s weekend travels were part of a late blitz that will also take him to Ohio.
He is hoping a strong Republican showing on Tuesday will generate momentum for the 2024 run that he is expected to launch in the days or weeks after polls close.
On Saturday, Mr Trump repeatedly falsely claimed he lost the 2020 election only because Democrats cheated, while raising the possibility of election fraud this coming week.
In part, because of such rhetoric, federal intelligence agencies have warned of the possibility of political violence from far-right extremists in the coming days.
“Everybody, I promise you, in the very next – very, very, very short period of time, you’re going to be happy,” Mr Trump said of another White House bid. “But first we have to win an historic victory for Republicans on November 8.”
Mr Biden’s Pennsylvania address was largely the same he has been giving for weeks – spotlighting his major legislative achievements, while warning that abortion rights, voting rights, social security and Medicare are at risk should Republicans take control of Congress.
The president highlighted the Inflation Reduction Action, passed in August by the Democratic-led Congress, which includes several healthcare provisions popular among older adults and the less well-off, including a $2,000 cap on out-of-pocket medical expenses and a $35 monthly cap per prescription on insulin.
The new law also requires companies that raise prices faster than overall inflation to pay Medicare a rebate.
But with a bigger and more energetic audience in his home state, Mr Biden’s energy seemed lifted. We have to reaffirm the values that have long defined us,” he said of threats to democracy. “We are good people. I know this,” Mr Biden said, adding: “Get out and vote.”