White House officials have acknowledged that Republicans will gain seats in Congress in next week’s mid-term elections, saying that President Obama will test whether they are willing to work with him.
The second half of his presidency promises to be more difficult if the Republicans win control on Capitol Hill.
Support from immigrants was crucial to Obama’s victory two years ago.
But in the shadow of Disneyland in California’s Orange County, Democratic Representative Loretta Sanchez has been accused of trying to set one community against another.
The “Vietnamese and the Republicans”, she said, were trying to take her seat away.
Sanchez has held her seat for 13 years, largely due to her popularity among the sizable Latino population. In recent years the long-established Vietnamese population, which tends to vote Republican, has been growing.
Anthony Revollar, who plans to vote for Sanchez, said he disapproved of what he described as dirty campaigning.
“Many things are in the mailbox from candidates, that ‘he said’ and ‘she said’ stuff… I don’t like to vote that way,” he said. “I want to vote in a clean way and focus on the issues that are really affecting my community.”
Sanchez has focussed on damage limitation, saying she has been a pioneering supporter of Vietnamese rights.
Meanwhile her Republican rival, Vietnamese American Van Tran, has capitalised on her remarks in repeated campaign advertisements.
The Republicans have rallied round Van Tran’s campaign, sending party bigwigs such as former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani to back him.
They know the Democratic seat is vulnerable, and could be crucial to a Republican takeover in Congress.