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Americans swing to the right. -

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As Americans prepare for the mid-term congressional elections this week there are strong
predictions that a swing to the right will be delivered.


KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: The mid-term congressional elections in the United States this week are
expected to deliver a stinging rebuke to Democrats and by clear implication President Barack Obama.

Riding a wave of popular discontent over the economy and perceptions of a political class in
Washington that's out of touch, Republicans are expected to at least win back the House of
Representatives, if not gain a majority in the Senate.

But the swing to the right is likely to be seen as a victory above all for the Tea Party movement
and the result will also change the atmospherics within the Republican Party.

North America correspondent Michael Brissenden travelled to Florida to chart the rise of one of the
most talked about Tea Party-backed Republicans.

He's got a great story. His dad was a bartender. His did was a bartender, his mother stocked the
shelves at Kmart. He is a sort of true American dream.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN, REPORTER: In conservative circles, Marco Rubio is a man on the move. One of the
new crop of anti-establishment Republicans riding the populist Tea Party wave.

But Marco Rubio is no stranger to conservative politics. He's been in the Florida state parliament
for a decade. Now he has his eyes on a bigger stage.

Back in February he was hailed as a political hero at the Conservative Political Action conference
in Washington. Hailed, for among other things, knocking off the sitting Republican Governor Charlie
Crist for the right to run as a Republican nominee for the Senate in Florida.

MARCO RUBIO, REPUBLICAN SENATE CANDIDATE: There's never been a nation like the United States -
ever. It begins with the principles of our founding documents. Principles that recognise that our
rights come from God, not from our government.

ADAM SMITH, POLITICAL EDITOR, ST PETERSBURG TIMES: He was really their initial hero, really of the
Tea Party. And he effectively beat Charlie Crist, pushed Charlie Crist out of the Republican Party
and now is on the verge of being in the US Senate, and as soon as he's there, people are gonna be
talking about him for Vice President at least and maybe more.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Marco Rubio's swift rise has surprised some, particularly some of the old
establishment Republicans.

But here in Miami's little Havana, they've been watching him coming for years.

PEPE HERNANDEZ, CUBAN AMERICAN NATIONAL FOUNDATION: Motivates him, it's the history and experience
of the Cuban immigrant. People who arrived here, forced by their circumstances.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Pepe Hernandez is one of the so-called "Cuban historicals". He came to Miami in
1960. Through the 1990s he says he saw Marco Rubio's political skills progress here as an activist
with the powerful Cuban American National Foundation.

PEPE HERNANDEZ: People who are in most of the cases had a very, very hard and difficult experience.

ADAM SMITH: He's a Cuban American at a time when Republicans were starting to look like the party
of only old white men.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Rubio's rise and his story may be deeply rooted in the Cuban immigrant
experience, but what he represents isn't: smaller government, less tax and a plan to aggressively
cut public spending.

MARCO RUBIO: And what will happen will be that we will elect to Washington, DC a group of people
that are going up there one very clear mandate: to stand up against this agenda and to offer a very
clear alternative.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Marco Rubio is just one of an expected wave of Tea Party-backed candidates
who'll be heading to Washington after this week's poll.

Many of those taking up their seats here will have won bitter primary battles against more moderate
Republicans. They will change the balance of power here and the consequences for Barack Obama and
the Democrats will be significant. But this new crop of Tea Party conservatives will also change
the Republican Party itself.

In Nevada, another badly depressed corner of the United States, Sharon Angle, the Tea Party-backed
Republican who has publicly canvassed phasing out social security and eliminating the Education
Department, looks set to defeat the veteran Democratic House speaker Harry Reid. And it's expected
that at least 80 House members, more than a quarter of the new Republican caucus, will have their
electoral victory beholden to Tea Party support in one way or another.

BILL GLASSON, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: So it stands to reason and it's certainly consistent with
experience that those people will come in with a wave of enthusiasm bordering on zealotry.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: This Congress has already been one of the most polarised in modern American
history. The next one will be even more so.

But as the campaigning comes to a close, Democrats are still out publicly defying the polls.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: We're gettin' there. President's gettin' out and around and I see a
lot more intensity at these rallies now in the last three weeks. So I think it'd be a great mistake
to count us out. Reports of our demise have been exaggerated.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: If anyone knows about dealing with a hostile Congress, Bill Clinton does. In
the last few years of his first term, the Republicans literally shut down the government. Despite
the gridlock, he went on to win a second term.

At the same stage in this political cycle, Barack Obama can only hope he can turn the economy
around and history deals him the same fate.

BILL GLASSON: Unemployment is still in the neighbourhood of nine per cent in 2012, then I think not
only is the President in trouble, but you will see a proliferation of populist remedies for
economic ills, because I think the judgment will be very widespread that conventional economics has
simply failed.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: And with the result for this congressional election now looking so certain, the
focus has already moved on.

next, because now we can see 2012 from our house.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: And the stars of the new Tea Party conservatives are also already warning the
establishment Republicans the GOP, as the party's often referred to, that 2012 is going to look
different for them too.

SARAH PALIN: But Heaven forbid that the GOP machine strays from this message of so, GOP is through.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: For her part, Sarah Palin is still keeping everyone guessing about her future
political ambitions. But if she decides not run, there are others who may well be ready to step up
to the plate.

MARCO RUBIO: I never felt like because my last name ends in a vowel, I can only go so far. And
rightfully so. Because I was born privileged to be a citizen of the single greatest society in the
history of mankind.

KERRY O'BRIEN: That report from North America correspondent Michael Brissenden.