Biden resists change despite voter concerns

No need to alter course, president says, as US left hanging on Congress makeup

US President Joe Biden says during a post-election news conference Wednesday at the White House that he intends to run a second term "regardless of what the outcome of this election was". (ZHAO HUANXIN / CHINA DAILY)

US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that he would not change course in the remaining two years of his term despite voter concerns, and said that he intended to run for reelection.

In his first public comments on the outcome of the midterm elections, where control of Congress had not been determined as of Wednesday night, Biden said his administration knew that voters "spoke clearly about their concerns "on record inflation, crime, public safety and other issues.

"The voters were also clear that they're still frustrated," he said at the White House.

A Politico-Morning Consult poll, conducted in advance of Tuesday's midterm election, revealed that 70 percent of voters say the country is on the wrong track.

Still, Biden told reporters he had little interest in changing his agenda in the next two years.

Biden added that the benefit of his policies, such as infrastructure projects and cutting prescription drug costs, "takes time to be recognized".

On inflation, he conceded: "I can't guarantee that we're going to be able to get rid of inflation, but I do think we can."

The Democratic president said his party had a "strong night" in the midterms, noting that a "giant red wave", as predicted by the media and pundits, didn't happen.

In the run-up to the elections, there were many polls and analyses pointing to the Republicans sweeping Congress.

"Regardless of what the final tally of these elections show, and there's still some counting going on, I'm prepared to work with my Republican colleagues," Biden said.

Asked about concerns that if the Republicans take control of the House, they will investigate his administration and family, Biden said: "I think the American people will look at all that for what it is, almost comedy."

'Family decision'

Joking that first lady Jill Biden, who was at the news conference, was "a lot more popular" than him in the Democratic Party, Biden said it's "ultimately a family decision" about whether to run for a second term.

"Our intention is to run again. That's been our intention, regardless of what the outcome of this election was," Biden said.

The president, whose 80th birthday is on Nov 20, said he doesn't "feel any hurry one way or another "about making an announcement, which could come early next year.

Asked whether he would prefer to face former president Donald Trump or Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Biden said: "It'll be fun watching them take on each other."

Senate races in Nevada, Arizona and Georgia could determine which party controls the chamber. Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia, a Democrat, and his Republican challenger, Herschel Walker, are headed for a Dec 6 runoff, so the Senate might not be decided for a few weeks.

California Republican Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader in the House of Representatives, on Wednesday announced he was running for speaker even before it was clear that his party would control the House.

In a letter to his Republican colleagues, McCarthy expressed confidence that the Republicans would win control of the chamber, even with several competitive races that could determine the majority still undecided.

The Republican wave "definitely" didn't happen, South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said on Tuesday.

What happened was that the Democrats apparently defied history — that the sitting president loses both houses of Congress most of the time — and expectations with a surprisingly strong performance on Tuesday.

They won hotly contested races for governor in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Maine, New Mexico and New York.

While Republicans cited high inflation, high prices and crime as top voting issues, Democrats said they were more motivated by abortion rights and gun violence, exit polls showed.

Trump was betting that Republican wins on Tuesday would serve as a launchpad for his 2024 presidential campaign, which he is expected to announce next week. But he didn't get the victories he had hoped his endorsements would produce.

Candidates who embraced Trump's agenda, in part to win his endorsement, underperformed in some of the most high-profile races, although The Washington Post estimated that at least 159 Republicans who had denied the 2020 election results had won their races on Tuesday.

In one of the country's most high-profile races, Trump's handpicked Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, Mehmet Oz, lost to Democratic Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman. The result cost the Republicans a Senate seat.

Perhaps the biggest Republican victory came from Trump's most likely rival for the party's nomination in the 2024 Republican presidential race: DeSantis. He won reelection by nearly 20 percentage points.

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