Donald Trump was in Valdosta, Ga., on Saturday night to campaign on behalf of Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who are in a January 5 runoff to determine control of the Senate. Trump praised the two senators as being “respected by everybody” and he asked Georgians to get out and vote for them.
But Trump was of two minds when it came to voting. On the one hand, he used most of the campaign speech for the GOP Senators to showcase his fraud claims and grievances against other Republican officials. He was asking voters to vote, even though their votes may not count.
“You must go vote and vote early starting December 14. You have to do it. They cheated and they rigged our presidential election, but we will still win it. We will still win it. We’ll still win it. And they’re going to try and rig this election, too,” Trump told the crowd.
Trump also targeted Republicans leaders in the Peach State, including Gov. Brian Kemp, criticizing them for not upholding his own efforts to overturn the election results in Georgia.
Trump tried to stay on point. He painted a grim picture of the two Democrats in the runoff.
But his focus throughout the speech was the rigged election. “You know we won Georgia, just so you understand,” Trump said before launching into tales of votes “coming out of ceilings and leather bags.”
Trump went off on Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, at one point suggesting that Rep. Doug Collins should run for governor in 2022.
“Your governor could stop it very easily if he knew what the hell he was doing. He could stop it very easily,” Trump said. He claimed without evidence that “hundreds of thousands of illegal votes were cast in each state” and insisted falsely that poll watchers were “thrown out” of polling places in Pennsylvania.
Later, he insisted that Kemp “should be ashamed of himself.” At one point, Trump suggested that Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), who unsuccessfully ran for Senate against Loeffler, could run for governor against Kemp, who is up for reelection in 2022.
How much did Trump help and how much did he hurt the GOP’s chances in the runoff with his Valdosta speech? Democratic partisans gleefully claim that so many Georgians will stay home on Election Day and refuse to vote that Trump’s voter fraud claims will hand the election to the Democrats. Republicans say that Trump’s appearances in the state will energize his supporters and drive them to the polls.
Most people claiming they won’t vote will probably end up voting anyway. But there is genuine anger among some Republicans in Georgia at Trump’s weird attacks on Governor Kemp and other GOP state officials. That’s certainly an unknown factor as far as turnout is concerned on Election Day.