President Donald Trump on Saturday claimed he would have graciously admitted defeat if the election hadn’t been ‘stolen’ by the Democrats, as he called on a ‘champion’ to overturn Joe Biden’s win.
The president repeated claims of election fraud as he spoke to a crowd of mostly maskless supporters in Valdosta, Georgia in his first post-election rally for Republican Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.
‘If I lost – I’d be a very gracious loser. If I lost, I would say I lost and I’d go to Florida and take it easy and I’d go around and say I did a good job,’ Trump said.
‘But you can ever accept when they steal and rig and rob. You can’t accept that,’ he added as the crowd erupted in ‘stop the steal’ chants.
Trump said he was there to help ‘ensure’ the two Republicans win what are probably the most important Senate runoffs in US history, calling the two seats ‘the last line of defense to save America’.
The January 5 runoffs pit Perdue and Loeffler against well-funded Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock seeking to capture a state that has not elected a Democratic senator in 20 years.
The races will determine which party controls the US Senate. Democrats need to gain both seats to seize a majority. If Republicans win one seat, they will retain control and be able to block much of Biden’s legislative agenda.
‘They cheated and rigged our presidential election but we’ll still win it. And they are going to try to rig this election too,’ Trump told the crowd, who chanted, ‘We love you!’ and ‘Four More Years!’
President Trump spoke at campaign rally for Republican senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in Valdosta, Georgia on Saturday
Trump said he was there to help ‘ensure’ the two Republicans win what are probably the most important Senate runoffs in US history, calling the two seats ‘the last line of defense to save America’
The president then turned to his own grievances about losing the election, once again claiming he won Georgia and the White House
‘Very simply, you will decide whether you children will grow up in a socialist country or whether they will grow up in a free country,’ he said, calling Ossoff and Warnock ‘the two most extreme far left liberal senate candidates.’
Trump stressed the importance of the runoffs before quickly pressing his own grievances about losing the election, at one point reading out a list of his electoral achievements, including falsely asserting he won Georgia and the White House.
The outgoing president’s claims have been rejected by state and federal officials across the country, and his campaign’s numerous legal challenges have almost all failed.
Biden carried the state by 12,670 votes and won a record 81 million votes nationally. Trump continued to reiterate his unsubstantiated claims of fraud, despite his own administration assessing the election to have been conducted without any major issues.
Chants of ‘Fight for Trump’ drowned out the two senators as they briefly spoke to the crowd.
Trump’s trip to Georgia came after he personally called the Governor Kemp Saturday morning to pressure him to overturn Biden‘s win and to get him to order another signature audit of votes in the state.
The president asked Kemp to call a special session of the state legislature to flip the election result in his favor and appoint electoral college voters that will back him instead of the President-elect.
At the rally, he took aim once again at Kemp, saying he could assure him victory ‘if he knew what the hell he was doing.’
First Lady Melania encourage Republicans to back Perdue and Loeffler in the January runoffs which will determine which party controls the US Senate
The president was greeted by thousands of MAGA supporters as he touched down in the battleground state
Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue have been pitted against well-funded Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock seeking to capture a state that has not elected a Democratic senator in 20 years
Thousands attended the Rally in Valdosta,Georgia where President Trump made visit to push for election of Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in the state’s run-off election
Trump took to Twitter Saturday – presumably not long after the phone call – to claim he would ‘easily and quickly’ win Georgia if Kemp permitted a ‘simple signature verification’
Trump’s personal contact with the governor demonstrated he is intent on amplifying his debunked theories of electoral fraud even as Georgia Republicans want him to turn his focus to the runoff election and encourage their supporters to get out and vote.
Kemp quickly responded on Twitter, saying he had already called for a signature audit to be carried out but does not have the power to enforce it
This marks the latest in a long line of attempts from Trump to claw back victory in Georgia after the state flipped blue for the first time in 18 years.
A source told the Washington Post about the conversation in which they said Kemp stood his ground and ‘declined the entreaty from Trump’.
Trump took to Twitter around midday – presumably not long after the phone call – to claim he would ‘easily and quickly’ win Georgia if Kemp permitted a ‘simple signature verification’ and hitting out at the governor and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger asking ‘why are these two ‘Republicans’ saying no?’
While the governor does not have the authority to order a signature audit, an audit was initiated by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and it triggered a full hand recount that confirmed Biden’s victory in Georgia.
The race has been certified for Biden and affirmed by the state’s Republican election officials as a fairly conducted and counted vote, with none of the systemic errors Trump alleges.
Kemp quickly responded on Twitter, referencing his phone call with the president and saying he had already called for a signature audit to be carried out but does not have the power to enforce it.
Trump was joined by First Lady Melania, who kicked off the rally by urging Republicans to vote during the January runoffs
US President Donald Trump holds up his fist as he steps off Air Force One with First Lady Melania Trump at Valdosta Regional Airport in Georgia
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive with Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., left, and Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., center, to a campaign rally for Senate Republican candidates
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, before boarding Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Trump is en route to Georgia for a rally for U.S. Senate candidates David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Trump offers condolences to family of Loeffler campaign staffer who died in fiery crash
Trump on Saturday offered his condolences to the family of Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler’s campaign staffer, who died in a fiery, multi-car crash on Friday.
Harrison Deal, a young aide for Loeffler and former intern for GOP Sen. David Perdue, died Friday morning after a three-vehicle car wreck along Interstate 16.
Harrison Deal (right), a 20-year-old campaign staffer for Sen. Kelly Loeffler, died on Friday morning in a car crash
Local media reported that three vehicles caught fire during the crash at 10am, and three people were treated for minor injuries at the scene. Images from the crash site show one car in flames, and then totally burned out.
The incident happened near the city of Pooler, just outside of Savannah, where Vice President Mike Pence campaigned with Loeffler and Perdue that afternoon.
‘I also want to express our profound condolences to the family of Harrison deal, a young and brilliant campaign staffer for Senator Loeffler who tragically died in a a car accident yesterday,’ Trump told the crowd at a rally in Valdosta, Georgia Saturday.
‘He was an incredible, magnificent young man. And I just want to say, our prayers are with his friends and loved ones and we will keep his memory in our hearts. He is looking down now, very proud of all of us.’
It’s unclear if Deal, from Bulloch County, had been performing campaign duties at the time. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
Photos shared by WJCL showed the mangled vehicles.
Loeffler canceled plans to join Pence at the rally ahead of the contentious Georgia Senate race as a result of the tragedy.
Loeffler, Perdue and Gov. Brian Kemp, who was also close with the young aide, all paid tribute to Deal..
‘It is with an extremely heavy heart that we mourn the loss of Harrison Deal. My heart aches for his family, and Jeff and I will continue to surround them in love and prayer in the days ahead. Harrison was a beloved member of our campaign team,’ Loeffler wrote on Twitter.
‘More importantly, Harrison was a smart, bright, loving, loyal and outstanding young man. Harrison embodied the very best of this campaign – and the very best of our state.’
Perdue revealed that he and his wife, Bonnie, were ‘devastated’ by the news.
‘Harrison was a smart, kind young man with a bright future ahead of him, and he is gone too soon,’ he wrote.
‘We are praying for his parents, Curt and Jenni Deal, and his sisters, Hannah and Halli. I ask the people of Georgia to join us in keeping the entire Deal family in their hearts on this terrible day.’
Gov. Kemp issued an official statement after news of Deal’s death spread, sharing a Christmas photo his family and the aide.
Kemp did not attend the rally with Trump, the governor’s spokesman told CNN, citing the recent death of close family friend and aide Harrison Deal.
‘As I told the President this morning, I’ve publicly called for a signature audit three times (11/20, 11/24, 12/3) to restore confidence in our election process and to ensure that only legal votes are counted in Georgia,’ the governor wrote.
Trump hit back at Kemp on Twitter urging him to ‘at least’ ask for a special session of the legislature and asking what ‘your people’ are ‘hiding’.
‘But you never got the signature verification! Your people are refusing to do what you ask,’ he raged.
‘What are they hiding? At least immediately ask for a Special Session of the Legislature. That you can easily, and immediately, do.’
Kemp was not at the rally, one day after the death in a car crash of Harrison Deal, a close family friend of the governor and staffer for Loeffler.
On Thursday, Kemp called for a signature audit of Georgia votes for the third time and claimed it would be ‘simple’ to do while saying the power to carry one out lies with Raffensperger.
Signature verification was already carried out on absentee ballot envelopes in the state before the votes were counted and it would now be impossible to trace an individual ballot back to the envelope it came in.
Trump is seeking to have mail-in ballots thrown out across the state as he continues to push unfounded claims of widespread election fraud and refuses to concede to the President-elect.
His legal efforts were dealt a monumental blow Friday when judges in six states rejected his team’s election fraud appeals.
Trump’s penchant for making his political rallies all about him – and now, about his claims the US electoral system is rigged – has raised concerns among some Republicans that his appearance in Georgia could end up turning voters off or making them feel there is no point in voting.
But after two pro-Trump lawyers this past week questioned whether voting again is even worth it – even Vice President Mike Pence betrayed concerns that the Republican coalition could crack under the force of Trump’s grievances.
‘I know we’ve all got our doubts about the last election, and I hear some of you saying, “Just don’t vote,”‘ Pence said Friday while campaigning with Perdue in Savannah. ‘If you don’t vote, they win.’
Few Republicans in Washington or Georgia believe wide swaths of the electorate in this newfound battleground would opt out of voting because of Trump’s false claims or his denigration of the Georgia governor and secretary of state for certifying Biden’s victory in the state.
His latest attack on the election process at the rally comes 24 hours after former President Barack Obama headed up a virtual rally in support of the two Democrat challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.
On his journey to Georgia Trump fired off more tweets against Kemp.
‘Between Governor @DougDucey of Arizona and Governor @BrianKempGA of Georgia, the Democrat Party could not be happier. They fight harder against us than do the Radical Left Dems. If they were with us, we would have already won both Arizona and Georgia…’ he wrote.
‘We received more LEGAL votes by far. All I can do is run, campaign, and be a good (great!) President – it is 100% up to the states to manage the election. Republicans will NEVER forget this.’
Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid slammed Trump as ‘weird’ and ‘out of touch with reality’ for trying to push Georgia into overturning the election after the third count again found Biden won the state.
‘Trump is weird and out of touch with reality,’ the Democrat said when asked about the news live on CNN.
Before the rally, Matt Towery, a former Georgia Republican legislator who is now a political analyst and pollster, said Trump could help if he praised the candidates, but warned:
“If he talks about them for 10 minutes and spends the rest of the time telling everyone how terrible Brian Kemp is, then it will only exacerbate things.”
When Loeffler and Perdue took the stage, many in the crowd chanted “Fight for Trump!” and “Stop the steal!”