NATIONAL NEWS

Biden, Trump Warn Of High Stakes Of Georgia Senate Runoffs

Jan 5, 2021, 12:02 AM
FILE: Donald Trump (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)...
FILE: Donald Trump (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

ATLANTA, Ga. (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden on Monday told Georgia Democrats they had the power to “chart the course” for a generation as President Donald Trump urged Republican voters to “swamp” the polls ahead of runoff elections that will determine control of the U.S. Senate.

Trump made his final-hours pitch to voters at a nighttime rally in north Georgia, where Republicans were banking on strong voter turnout Tuesday to reelect Sen. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue and hold control of the chamber.

Biden campaigned with Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in Atlanta, hoping he could recreate the coalition that secured him a narrow victory in the presidential race in November.

“Folks, this is it. This is it. It’s a new year, and tomorrow can be a new day for Atlanta, for Georgia and for America,” Biden said at a drive-in rally. “Unlike any time in my career, one state — one state — can chart the course, not just for the four years but for the next generation.”

The stakes have drawn hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign spending to a once solidly Republican state that now finds itself as the nation’s premier battleground. Biden won Georgia’s 16 electoral votes by about 12,000 votes out of 5 million cast in November, though Trump continues pushing false assertions of widespread fraud that even his now-former attorney general and Georgia’s Republican secretary of state — along with a litany of state and federal judges — have said did not happen.

The president’s trip came a day after disclosure of a remarkable telephone call he made to the Georgia secretary of state over the weekend. Trump pressured Republican Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn Georgia’s election results ahead of Wednesday’s joint session of Congress that will certify Biden’s Electoral College victory. The call highlighted how Trump has used the Georgia campaign to make clear his continued hold on Republican politics.

Angry after the Raffensperger call, Trump floated the idea of pulling out of the rally but was persuaded to go ahead with it so he would have a chance to reiterate his claims of election fraud. Republicans were wary as to whether Trump would focus only on himself and fail to promote the two GOP candidates.

A top Georgia election official said hours before Trump’s rally that he “wanted to scream” after hearing audio of the president’s call with Raffensperger.

“Do not self-suppress your own vote,” said Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s voting system implementation manager.

But Trump, at the rally in Dalton, Georgia, spent much of his address on message, making an impassioned case that Loeffler’s and Perdue’s races were among the most important Georgia voters would ever face and made the case that “the fate of our country is at stake.”

To be sure, he also spent a fair amount of time rehashing false claims that the November election was “rigged.” He fumed that Republican Gov. Brian Kemp was “incompetent” and replayed many of the same debunked claims that he raised days ago in his call with Raffensperger.

“The Democrats are trying to steal the White House, you cannot let them,” Trump said. “You just can’t let them steal the U.S. Senate, you can’t let it happen.”

Biden on Monday took aim at Trump’s scheme by declaring that “politicians cannot assert, take or seize power” by undermining legitimate elections.

Biden said he needs a Senate majority to pass legislation to combat the coronavirus, and he blasted Perdue and Loeffler as obstructionist Trump loyalists. Loeffler says she will join other Republican lawmakers in objecting to the Electoral College certification of Biden’s victory by Congress on Wednesday.

“You have two senators who think they’ve sworn an oath to Donald Trump, not the United States Constitution,” Biden said.

Earlier Monday, Vice President Mike Pence told a crowd of conservative Christian voters at a campaign event in Milner, Georgia, to stop a Democratic takeover in Washington. “We’re going to keep Georgia, and we’re going to save America,” Pence said at Rock Springs Church in Milner.

Perdue addressed the church crowd in Milner by telephone while quarantining over coronavirus exposure, claiming that “the very future of our republic is on the line” and declaring the duty to vote “a calling from God.”

Trump amplified the sentiment, warning that Ossoff and Warnock wins would lead to a sharp leftward swing in American policy making.

“These Senate seats are truly the last line of defense,” Trump said. He added, “It’s really fight for our country, not a fight for Trump.”

Republicans need just one victory to maintain Senate control and force Biden to contend with divided government. Democrats need a sweep for a 50-50 split, giving the tiebreaking vote to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who will succeed Pence as the Senate’s presiding officer. That would give Democrats a Senate majority to go along with their control of the House and executive branch.

Pence, who will preside over Wednesday’s congressional joint session, sidestepped Trump’s denials Monday until a man yelled out that he must “do the right thing on Jan. 6.” Pence promised that “we’ll have our day in Congress,” though he offered no details about what that might mean. Scores of Republicans in Congress have pledged to protest the Electoral College count, but Pence has no legal authority to override Biden’s win.

Facing those passions from the Republican base, Perdue, whose first Senate term expired Sunday, and Loeffler, an appointed senator trying to win her first election, have run as unabashed Trump Republicans and spent the two-month runoff blitz warning of a “radical” and “dangerous” lurch to the left.

Ossoff and Warnock have countered with warnings that a Republican Senate will stymie Biden’s administration, especially on pandemic relief.

Warnock pushed back at the deluge of Loeffler television ads casting him as a socialist. “Have you noticed she hasn’t even bothered to make a case, Georgia, for why you should keep her in that seat?” Warnock said, speaking ahead of Biden. “That’s because she has no case to make.”

A closely divided Senate — with the rules still requiring 60 votes to advance major bills — lessens the prospects of sweeping legislation regardless. But a Democratic Senate would at least assure Biden an easier path for top appointees, including judges, and legitimate consideration of his legislative agenda. A Senate led by McConnell would almost certainly deny even an up-or-down vote on Biden’s most ambitious plans.

More than 3 million Georgians already have voted. Monday’s push focused on getting voters to the polls Tuesday. Democrats ran up a wide margin among 3.6 million early votes in the fall, but Republicans countered with an Election Day surge, especially in small towns and rural areas.

___

Amy reported from Milner, Ga. Associated Press writers Kevin Freking in Dalton, Georgia, Aamer Madhani in Chicago and Lisa Mascaro in Washington contributed to this report.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

FILE PHOTO - (Deseret News)...
Associated Press

Inmate serving life for fatal Vegas bombing escapes prison

Authorities are searching for a 42-year-old convicted bombmaker who escaped from a Nevada prison where he was serving a life sentence for a deadly 2007 explosion outside a Las Vegas Strip resort.
1 day ago
FILE PHOTO (Deseret News)...
Associated Press

California murder suspect, teen daughter killed in shootout

California authorities say an abducted 15-year-old girl and her father — a fugitive wanted in the death of the teen’s mother — were killed in a shootout with law enforcement.
1 day ago
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 12: Taylor Hawkins of honorees Foo Fighters performs onstage during ...
Chloe Melas, CNN

Foo Fighters set to honor Taylor Hawkins in second tribute show

The late Foo Fighters' drummer Taylor Hawkins will be honored in an all-star tribute concert in Los Angeles on Tuesday night.
1 day ago
Waves kick up under a dark sky along the shore of Batabano, Cuba, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. Hurricane...
Nouran Salahieh, Jason Hanna and Christina Maxouris, CNN

Hurricane Ian is growing stronger FL governor warns time to evacuate is ‘rapidly running out’

More than 2.5 million Floridians are under some kind of evacuation warning Tuesday as Hurricane Ian marches closer to the state's west coast.
1 day ago
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 21: Former President Donald Trump, left, and former White House aide Nick Lun...
Associated Press

Jan. 6 panel delays hearing as Hurricane Ian aims at Florida

The House Jan. 6 committee is postponing a hearing scheduled for Wednesday as a hurricane hurtled toward the Florida coast.
1 day ago
ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 27: People look out as clouds from the approaching Hurricane Ia...
Cary Schwanitz

Utah Red Cross sends volunteers to Florida as Hurricane Ian closes in

The American Red Cross of Utah sent trained disaster volunteers and staff to Florida this week as the area prepares for the wrath of Hurricane Ian.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Types of Computer Malware and Examples...
PC Laptops

5 Nasty Types of Computer Malware and Examples | Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Computer and Family Safe

Here are the different types of computer malware and examples that could potentially infect your computer.
tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
Biden, Trump Warn Of High Stakes Of Georgia Senate Runoffs