Gibbs Claims Midterm Election About 'Local Issues,' Not Obama

Though Republicans across the country are hammering Democratic opponents by linking them to President Obama's policies, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs asserted Sunday that 2010 is a "local" election.

The president's chief spokesman was decidedly more upbeat about his party's chances than during an interview over the summer when he said Democrats could lose their House majority. Asked once again for his prediction, Gibbs said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" that Democrats will keep control of both chambers.

He said Democrats have done a "remarkably good job" in a tough environment and disputed the suggestion that voters associate the party's candidates too much with Obama.

"I think that campaigns in this cycle are being run on a lot of local issues and issues that are important, not nationally, but to individual states and ... individual congressional districts," Gibbs said.

Democrats, though, have been battling GOP efforts in race after race to align them with the leaders and policies of the national party. West Virginia Senate candidate Joe Manchin, who is also the state's Democratic governor, is one prominent candidate who has struggled to overcome Republican campaigns linking him to Obama.

Fearing the damage national politics could have on local races, some endangered House Democrats have gone so far as to campaign on pledges to oppose House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for another term.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said on "Fox News Sunday" that the election is very much based on national issues.

"This is going to be a referendum on very unpopular policies that have been shoved through Congress on a very fast track," Cornyn said. "So this is going to be a referendum on the administration's policies, on majorities controlled by the Democrats the last two years. And it's going to be about jobs, spending and debt -- pretty much that simple."

But Gibbs said, "there's different political environments in different states."

He acknowledged that the economy is driving voter frustration but urged the country to give Democrats more time "to get out of the mess it took us a long time to get into."

Gibbs also dismissed a new Associated Press poll that showed one-quarter of Obama's 2008 supporters are at least considering voting for Republicans on Nov. 2