BY KENT KLEIN – The big Republican gains in Tuesday’s U.S. mid-term elections will likely make it more difficult for President Barack Obama to advance his agenda in the next two years. Many of the Republican victories appear to be driven by voter dissatisfaction with the president’s policies.
One of many new Republicans in Congress will be Rand Paul, who is aligned with the conservative Tea Party movement. The Senator-elect says voters in the Southern state of Kentucky sent a message that they are not happy with the way President Obama is running the government.
“A message from the people of Kentucky,” said Paul. “A message, a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words: We have come to take our government back!”
With a vast Republican advance in the House of Representatives and a slight increase in the Senate, Mr. Obama will find sharper resistance to his initiatives.
Efforts to reform the U.S. immigration system and energy policy, two of the president’s expected goals for 2011, could be in jeopardy.
Republican leaders have also promised to try to repeal the health care reform legislation Mr. Obama spent much of the past year working to pass.
Before the polls closed Tuesday, the president spoke with several radio stations that serve young African-Americans, in an effort to persuade their largely Democratic audiences to vote.
On Chicago’s WGCI radio, he acknowledged that big Republican victories could mean a repeal of health reform.
“I will regret if we have trouble implementing it, because we did not hang onto the House and the Senate here in Washington. And that is, again, one of the reasons I need people to get out there and vote,” said President Obama.
Many political experts agree that the president will have to find a way to work more closely with the Republicans, and Mr. Obama said Tuesday he will try to do so.
“My hope is that I can cooperate with Republicans,” said Mr. Obama. “But, obviously, the kinds of compromises that are going to be made will depend on what Capitol Hill looks like, you know, who is in charge.”
The president has scheduled a news conference for Wednesday at 17 hours Universal Time (1pm EDT), to discuss the Republican surge at the polls and how his administration will deal with its aftermath.