Mid-term elections 2018: Race rows mire campaign home stretch

Oprah Winfrey and Stacey Abrams on stageMedia mogul Oprah Winfrey travelled to Georgia to campaign with Stacey Abrams ahead of the mid-term election

Race-baiting allegations have mired the home stretch of the US mid-term elections, turning it into one of the ugliest campaigns in recent times.

US networks have withdrawn President Donald Trump’s ad about a cop-killing illegal immigrant.

Meanwhile, racist automated calls targeted prominent African-American candidates in Florida and Georgia.

Control of Congress is up for grabs in Tuesday’s poll, which is being seen as a referendum on Mr Trump.

His ability to govern in the final two years of his term will hinge upon the outcome of votes for all 435 seats in the House, and 35 of the 100 Senate seats.

The Republican president – who has been holding barnstorming rallies nationwide, even though he is not up for re-election this year – campaigns in Ohio, Indiana and Missouri on Monday.

In the weeks leading up to the polls, Mr Trump has escalated his rhetoric about his opponents and divisive issues such as immigration, warning voters against Democratic “socialism” and “an invasion” of criminals from the Central American migrant caravan.

His sharp language has appeared to energise conservative voters, but critics have condemned Mr Trump’s tactics as fear-mongering.

U.S. President Donald Trump is applauded during a campaign rally in Cleveland, OhioMr Trump has held rallies across the country to ramp up his base ahead of the elections.

On Monday, Facebook, NBC and even the president’s favourite network, Fox News, announced they would stop broadcasting a 30-second ad paid for by his campaign.

The clip falsely claimed Democrats let into the US an undocumented Mexican immigrant who murdered two California sheriff’s deputies in 2014.

The president last week tweeted the clip, but CNN refused to air it at the weekend, calling it “racist”.

Asked about the ad on Monday, Mr Trump told a journalist: “A lot of things are offensive. Your questions are offensive a lot of times.”


What about the racist robo-calls?

Automated phone calls in Florida and Georgia have dragged an already toxic political campaign to new lows, targeting two candidates who could become the first African-American governors of those states.

One message falsely claiming to be from US celebrity Oprah Winfrey called Stacey Abrams in Georgia “a poor man’s Aunt Jemima” among other racial slurs, referencing a controversial image of a black woman depicted as a slavery-era “mammy” figure.

Calls in Florida targeting Andrew Gillum featured a background of jungle and chimpanzee noises.

They came days after Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, speaking in Florida, described the election as “cotton-pickin’ important” – a term with overtones of slavery.

According to the Wesleyan Media Project, no other US general election in the last decade has seen close to so many attack ads as this one.

Barack Obama in Miami, Florida - 4 NovemberFormer President Obama urged Floridians to put a check on angry rhetoric

Are voters energised?

President Trump is galvanising supporters by arguing that a Democratic takeover of Congress would trigger an influx of illegal immigrants and a crime wave.

The president has also been warning the Democrats will destroy a healthy US economy if they win the keys to power.

Most Democratic candidates have tended to avoid directly confronting the president, focusing instead on “kitchen table” issues such as healthcare and economic inequality.

The party hopes the president’s hard-line rhetoric will help them win over younger voters, suburban moderates and minorities to the polls.

The Democrats have rolled out their biggest gun: former President Barack Obama, who travelled to Virginia on Monday to get out the vote for its candidates.

“The character of this country is on the ballot,” he said.

What is happening with turnout?

Turnout is traditionally low in the US mid-terms, with the 2014 election seeing a post-war record low of just 37%.

But analysts say a sharp rise is likely this year.

Some 34.3 million people have already voted and the real number is probably higher, according to the US Elections Project, a University of Florida-based information source. The figure in 2014 was just 27.5 million.

Early voting in Los Angeles, California - 4 NovemberPeople can vote early both in person and by post

In Texas, early voting has exceeded the entire turnout in 2014.

However, thunderstorms are forecast for Tuesday along the eastern coast and snowstorms in the Midwest, which could dampen turnout.

What do pollsters predict?

Pollsters say Democrats may win the 23 seats they need to take over the House of Representatives, and possibly 15 or so extra seats.

However, the Democrats are expected to fall short of the two seats they need to wrest control of the Senate from Republican hands.

Governors are also being chosen in 36 out of 50 states.

The first polls close at 23:00 GMT (18:00 EST) on Tuesday.

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Sacramento, CA: Video Shows Officers Killing Stephon Clark in His Backyard

H14 stephon clark killed by police

In Sacramento, California, police have released a pair of videos showing the moments before a pair of officers shot and killed 22-year-old Stephon Clark, an African-American father of two who was gunned down in his own backyard. At the time of the killing, officers were investigating a 911 call reporting someone in a hoodie in the neighborhood breaking the windows of cars. One newly released video, taken from a police helicopter, shows thermal images of Clark being pursued outside his home by two officers, who draw their pistols on him.

Officer 1: “All I can tell you is he’s got a hoodie on. He’s running toward the front yard at 29th Street, 29th Street. He’s looking into another car that’s in between the fence and the front yard.”

Another disturbing video, from a body camera worn by one of the officers, shows the moment Clark was killed in a hail of 20 bullets as both officers opened fire.

Officer 2: “Show me your hands! Gun! Gun! Gun! [gunshots] 5-7, shots fired. Suspect down!”

The Sacramento Police Department says officers waited for about five minutes before approaching Clark to administer medical attention after they shot him in his own yard. The officers initially claimed they opened fire after Clark advanced toward them holding an object they believed was a gun. In a separate statement, the department later said the officers believed at the time that Clark was holding a “tool bar.” Clark was found to have only a cellphone on him at the time of his death.

New version of health care bill will help Alaska, Maine — home of two holdout senators

 

WASHINGTON — The Republican senators at the forefront of the latest effort to undo the Affordable Care Act plan to release a revised version of their bill Monday sending more health care dollars to the states of key holdouts, as hardening resistance from several GOP senators left their proposal on the verge of collapse.

According to a summary obtained by The Washington Post, Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, and Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, will propose giving Alaska and Maine get more funding than initially offered. Those states are represented by Republican senators Lisa Murkowski, Alaska, and Susan CollinsMaine, who have expressed concerns about the bill but have yet to say how they would vote.

The Cassidy-Graham legislation would overhaul the ACA by lumping together the current law’s spending on insurance subsidies and expanded Medicaid and redistributing it to states in the form of block grants. Alaska would get 3 percent more funding between 2020 and 2026 than under current law, and Maine would get 43 percent more funding during that time period, according to a summary obtained by The Post.