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US Congressional Candidates Recognize Voters’ Fears


People listen as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., a 30-year incumbent, campaigns in Hazard, Ky., Monday, Oct. 27, 2014. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

People listen as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., a 30-year incumbent, campaigns in Hazard, Ky., Monday, Oct. 27, 2014. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)


Opinion surveys show feelings of unease among likely American voters as they prepare for congressional, state and local elections next month. The Gallup organization recently asked a group of Americans for what they thought are the most important issues facing the country. The top 10 answers included the Ebola virus and the threat from Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

The Republican Party is often critical of President Barack Obama. Some Republican candidates are questioning how safe Americans are under Mr. Obama, a Democrat. Yet some Democrats are blaming Republicans for cutting government spending on public health as Ebola worries surface.

Frightening news from overseas has come home for many Americans. An example was confirmation of the first cases of Ebola in the United States.

“Good morning. A second health care worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital has preliminarily tested positive for Ebola.”

There were also the recent executions of two American journalists and a British aid worker. Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for the killings.

“This is James Wright Foley, an American citizen of your country."

The apparent threat from Islamic State fighters has become a campaign issue in the United States. So says Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of the Gallup Poll.

“The current military action that is taking place against the Islamic State is a factor when you remind Americans of it, that they say, ‘Hmm, that could be important.’ And some candidates at the Senate level are trying to take advantage of it, as of course politicians will do.”

Republican supporters are using television advertisements to tie current Democrats in the United States Senate to President Obama. The ads accuse the Senate Democrats of being weak on national security.

“While radical Islamists threaten to attack America, and millions cross our border undetected, President Obama and Senator Landrieu have done nothing.”

Several ads from conservative groups against Democrats combine the separate issues of Islamic State terrorists and illegal immigration.

NRCC campaign advertising

“Evil forces around the world want to harm Americans every day. Their entry into our country? Through Arizona’s backyard. Yet Ann Kirkpatrick consistently votes with her party against protecting Arizona.”

For their part, some Democratic supporters are attacking Republicans on the Internet. This ad on the YouTube website criticizes Republican candidates for cutting government spending.

The Agenda Project campaign advertising

“Washington actually can cut spending.”

“The CDC says its discretionary spending has been cut by $585 million since 2010” “Cut” “Cut” “Cut.”

VOA spoke with two Americans who were visiting Washington, DC. Mary Huttar is from Virginia, while Frank Wyman lives in South Carolina. When asked if they were worried about Ebola, each had mixed feelings.

“I’m not afraid that it’s going to become a huge thing – I mean the disease is horrible but I am not afraid about our own medical system.

“I’m getting worried. I’m not scared yet -- I think we’ll get it all figured out. “

Some campaign ads may seem frightening. But most Americans still say their top issues in this election are the economy, unemployment and dissatisfaction with the government.

I’m Caty Weaver.

*This report was based on a story from VOA congressional correspondent Cindy Saine. Christopher Cruise wrote it for VOA Learning English. The editor was George Grow.

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Words in This Story

virus – n. an extremely small living thing that causes a disease and that spreads from one person or animal to another

factor – n. something that helps produce or influence a result : one of the things that cause something to happen

backyard – n. an area in back of a house; the general area near and around someone's home

mixed – adj. (always used before a noun) made of different kinds of things mixed together or combined

Now it’s your turn to use these Words in This Story. In the comments section, write a sentence using one of these words and we will provide feedback on your use of vocabulary and grammar.

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