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Trump Attacks Georgia’s GOP Governor at Rally for GOP Senators – Bloomberg

Trump Attacks Georgia’s GOP Governor at Rally for GOP Senators – Bloomberg

President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump blasted Georgia’s elections as corrupt but urged his supporters to vote for two GOP senators facing re-election anyway, keeping up attacks that party leaders worry could backfire and end their control of the Senate.

At a Saturday rally in Valdosta, Georgia, Trump took aim at GOP Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger after complaining they didn’t take steps to subvert the election’s outcome and reverse Joe Biden’s win in Georgia. The president repeated unsubstantiated and outlandish claims that there was multi-state conspiracy by Democrats to cheat in the Nov. 3 election.

“Your governor should be ashamed of himself,” Trump said of Kemp, whom the president claimed had been cowed by the “radical left” into refusing to overturn Biden’s victory in Georgia. “He’s got to get a lot tougher.”

The president told his supporters that they must make sure Raffensperger, who has stood by the election results, “knows what the hell he’s doing.”

The president repeatedly veered into the realm of fiction during his 99-minute appearance, at one point repeating a baseless assertion that a voting machine company altered the results to install Biden as president. The company, Dominion Voting Systems Inc., issued a statement rejecting the claims for which Trump and his team have produced no evidence.

Trump’s relentless attacks on the election risks confirming the worst fears of influential Republicans, who have raised alarm that Trump’s rally might not help GOP Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. They face Jan. 5 run-off elections that will determine which party controls the Senate.

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Brian Kemp

Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg

Trump turned the rally into a wide-ranging assault on his political foes, especially Democrats. He itemized what he described as his accomplishments, including a wall on the southern border, tax cuts and appointing conservative judges.

Few Masks

The outdoor event — with supporters packed shoulder-to-shoulder and few wearing masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus — took on the flavor of the signature rallies the president held before losing to Biden.

Trump openly mused about running for president again in 2024 but said he did not want to because he hoped to be inaugurated again in January — another jarring refusal to accept his loss.

But at another point, Trump appeared to acknowledge his defeat when he lamented Iran would have rushed to make a deal with his administration “if I won.” But he quickly added, “perhaps I still will.”

Courts around the country have thrown out claims made by Trump and his allies that the election should be overturned due to irregularities. And the results of a second recount in Georgia are expected to reaffirm Biden’s win, according to state officials.

Trump’s fraud claims have been criticized by Democrats and some GOP officials. Attorney General William Barr said the Department of Justice has seen no evidence of widespread fraud in the election.

Trump’s assertions on Saturday stood in contrast to remarks made by Vice President Mike Pence a day earlier at a rally in Georgia. Pence said all legal votes need to be counted but stopped short of alleging conspiracies and widespread fraud.

Trump called on his supporters to back Perdue and Loeffler to prevent Democrats from gaining control of the Senate. But he spent far more time talking about how the presidential election was “stolen” and “rigged” than he did endorsing the candidates.

Pleading for Votes

Yet Trump pleaded with his backers to vote even as he tore into Georgia’s voting system and some of his allies suggested that they shouldn’t because of concerns over fraud. Trump dismissed that idea, saying if GOP voters stay home, “the radical left wins.”

Trump told people to request absentee ballots for the Senate race — while in the same speech criticizing mail-in ballots as “phony” and “fake.” State Republicans have acknowledged they need better support among absentee voters to win the two Senate races.

If Democrats prevail, Trump said, “we will have total Socialist one-party control.” He warned of “draconian military cuts” and said “they’ll wage war on American energy” and end religious liberty.

But the president, despite waging an extraordinary push to overturn the outcome, told supporters he would be a “very gracious loser” if he had been defeated.

Trump repeatedly complained about state officials who have certified election results, saying that “so far we haven’t been able to find the people with the courage to do the right thing.”

“I don’t run the elections,” he said. “That’s up to your government here.”

At one point, Trump brought Loeffler and Perdue to the stage. Perdue said the pair would win re-election and make sure the president gets a “fair, square deal.”

‘Fight for Trump!’

After the senators left the stage, the crowd chanted: “Fight for Trump!”

Trump kept up his attacks on Kemp and even called on Georgia Representative Doug Collins to consider running against him. “Do you want to run for governor in two years?” he asked.

Trump started complaining about Kemp on Twitter ahead of his arrival in Georgia.

The two spoke by phone earlier Saturday, with the governor later suggesting Trump pressured him over a “signature audit” of ballots. Kemp has said that he’s calling for such a review but that it would have to be ordered by Raffensperger.

Trump has kept up the attacks even after Kemp’s office said the governor doesn’t have the power to overturn elections. The secretary of state also warned the president’s rhetoric was fueling violent threats against election workers. Even if Trump were to succeed in getting Georgia’s outcome reversed, it would not be enough to overturn his loss in the presidential election.

Trump responded to Kemp’s tweet by saying the governor’s stance isn’t good enough.

In another tweet, Trump said Kemp and Arizona’s Republican governor, Doug Ducey, “fight harder against us” than the Democrats, and sought to suggest that they denied him victory in both states.

Earlier: Trump’s Georgia Visit Worries Republicans Over Key Senate Races

At the rally, Trump paused his remarks to play a video of footage of reporters from the conservative television networks Newsmax and OAN making debunked claims of voter fraud. The video included a viral clip that Trump’s supporters have said shows that so-called “mystery ballots” were counted in Fulton County, Georgia. State election investigators said the clip actually showed sealed ballot containers, according to WSB-TV.

High Stakes

Republicans need to win just one of the two races to maintain their grip on the Senate. But if Jon Ossoff defeats Perdue and Raphael Warnock beats Loeffler, Democrats would take the control with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris casting tie-breaking votes.

If the Democrats took control of the Senate, it would make it easier for Biden’s proposals to become law and for the new majority to roll back Trump’s agenda.

GOP officials had hoped Trump would focus on praising Loeffler and Perdue and highlighting the stakes of the election, believing it would encourage his supporters to cast ballots. Biden won Georgia by fewer than 13,000 votes and the president remains the biggest draw in Republican politics.

Read more: Pence Touts Georgia Senators Without Echoing Trump Fraud Claims

Some of the president’s most ardent supporters have encouraged voters not to participate in the run-offs, angering Republicans in the state. Pro-Trump attorneys Sidney Powell and Lin Wood said on Wednesday that Georgians should not cast run-off ballots until the state’s election system is deemed “safe.” Pence rejected that idea on Friday.

(Updates with Trump comments starting ninth paragraph.)

    Published at Sat, 05 Dec 2020 23:13:00 +0000

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    Written by Riel Roussopoulos

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