Attorney Lin Wood fires up supporters during a "Stop the Steal" rally in Alpharetta, Ga., Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. (Ben Gray/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

At Georgia Senate rally, Trump can help his party or himself

ATLANTA — President Donald Trump’s first political rally since losing his reelection bid is ostensibly to urge support for the Republican incumbents in Georgia’s two runoffs that will decide which party controls the Senate at the start of Joe Biden’s administration.

But the question remains whether Trump will really try to help his party or use the Saturday night event in Valdosta to amplify his conspiratorial and debunked theories of electoral fraud.

Republicans are worried that if Trump does the latter, their voters will think the system is rigged and decide to sit out the two Jan. 5 races. They want Trump to tell people directly and forcefully to vote.

The president’s aides publicly scoff at the idea he might do anything other than encourage Republicans to back Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler as they try to withstand Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, respectively.

“I believe it’s the start of these two senators crossing the finish line,” White House press secretary Kelly McEnany said on the eve of Trump’s visit. McEnany credited Trump with being his party’s biggest turnout driver, noting that Republicans narrowed House Democrats’ majority while several vulnerable Republican senators survived challenges by comfortable margins.

Trump’s base “is behind him all the way,” she told Fox Business Network. “He is the head of this movement, make no mistake, and that will not be changing.”

But after two pro-Trump lawyers this past week questioned whether voting again is even worth it — in echoes of the president’s baseless accusations of widespread voter fraud — 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.”

Republicans need one more seat for a Senate majority. Democrats need a Georgia sweep to force a 50-50 Senate and position Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris as the tiebreaking majority vote.

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.

The risk for the GOP is that it wouldn’t take much of a drop-off to matter if the runoffs are as close as the presidential contest: Biden won Georgia by about 12,500 votes out of 5 million cast. There’s enough noise to explain why Pence felt the need to confront the matter head on after two Trump loyalists floated the idea of the president’s supporters bailing on Perdue and Loeffler.

“I would encourage all Georgians to make it known that you will not vote at all until your vote is secure — and I mean that regardless of party,” lawyer Sidney Powell said this past week at a suburban Atlanta “Stop the Steal” rally.

Atlanta celebrity lawyer Lin Wood, who’s filed thus-far unsuccessful court challenges to Biden’s victory, insisted to Trump’s supporters that the state’s elections are “rigged.”

Trump’s team has recently tried to dissociate itself from the pair but only after they were given a prominent platform in the flailing effort to overturn the presidential election results. Moreover, Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani returned Thursday to the Georgia Capitol for a marathon hearing that featured yet another airing of disproved claims.

Trump has been the source of party angst with his recent declarations that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is “hapless” and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is an “enemy of the people” because they didn’t block Biden’s Georgia victory. State law gives them no avenue to do so.

It’s resonated with voters such as Barry Mann, a 61-year-old business owner who came to hear Pence in Savannah. Mann hasn’t decided whether he’ll vote for his senators a second time.

“I think there’s some issues with our election and more investigation needs to be done,” Mann said, adding that he doesn’t think Perdue and Loeffler have done enough to support Trump’s efforts to overturn the results. “I want see what happens between now and January,” Mann said.

A third vote count, this one requested by the president’s reelection campaign, was nearing completion. Raffensperger could certify the election again as soon as Saturday; the result is not expected to change.

Tim Phillips, president of the conservative Americans for Prosperity, played down the idea that there are enough voters like Mann to cost Perdue and Loeffler. Phillips’ group has about 200 field workers canvassing across Georgia.

After his own door-knocking shift Friday, Phillips described the GOP’s pool of potential voters, especially in rural and small-town areas, as largely “voters who aren’t so much Republicans or even conservatives, but they love Trump.” That loyalty, he said, allows them to “hear two different messages” from Trump.

“He may say some things about the governor or other people, but the dominant message is that he’s down here for Perdue and Loeffler,” Phillips said. That should be “enormously beneficial.”

Just Posted

Alberta has made a more detailed framework for those looking to acquire an exemption to the mandatory indoor mask bylaw. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
Alberta changes requirements for mask exemptions

Masks wearing has been recommended for almost a year and provincially mandated… Continue reading

Alberta’a chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday that there are more than 328,000 vaccine appointments booked over the next seven days. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta surpasses 2 million doses administered of COVID-19 vaccine

Red Deer down to 835 active cases of COVID-19

RCMP file photo (Photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff)
RCMP investigating shooting near Maskwacis

Maskwacis and Wetaskiwin RCMP are seeking public assistance after a shooting has… Continue reading

Rode
Smith among impressive group of RDC soccer Queens recruits

There have been a number of cases where younger girls have developed… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools is projecting a $4-million budget deficit for 2021-22 school year. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Red Deer Public Schools prepares $124-million budget

$1 million COVID recovery plan to assist students

Bo’s Bar and Grill owner Brennen Wowk said the hospitality industry is looking for more clarity from the province around what conditions must be met to allow for restaurants reopening. (Advocate file photo)
Frustated restaurant owners want to know government’s reopening plan

Restaurant owners feel they are in lockdown limbo

Vancouver Canucks' Nils Hoglander, right, is checked by Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom during third-period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Thursday, May 13, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Lindholm, Tkachuk lead Calgary Flames in 4-1 win over Vancouver Canucks

Lindholm, Tkachuk lead Calgary Flames in 4-1 win over Vancouver Canucks

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, right, drives to the basket against Toronto Raptors center Khem Birch, left, and guard Jalen Harris during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

NFL schedules get off to strong starts with Week 1 twinbills

NFL schedules get off to strong starts with Week 1 twinbills

The Saddledome, home of the Calgary Flames, is shown in Calgary, Thursday, March 12, 2020. The final three games of Canada's Secret Cup women's hockey tournament will be played in Calgary's NHL arena.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Secret Cup women’s tournament final games to be held in Calgary’s Saddledome

Secret Cup women’s tournament final games to be held in Calgary’s Saddledome

FILE - In this Thursday, July 18, 2019 file photo, Ron Francis talks to reporters in Seattle after he was introduced as the first general manager for Seattle's yet-to-be-named NHL hockey expansion team. Four years since George McPhee was a “puppet master” of the NHL leading up to the Vegas expansion draft, general managers approached this trade deadline with Seattle’s upcoming addition to the league in mind. While Kraken GM Ron Francis prepares – and maybe made a handshake deal or two already like McPhee did – Seattle was on his colleagues’ minds.(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Kraken still plan to hire coach before expansion draft

Kraken still plan to hire coach before expansion draft

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney attends a news conference in Calgary on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. Simmering internal discontent in his United Conservative caucus has boiled over into an open challenge to his leadership. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Two Alberta UCP members kicked out of caucus after challenging Kenney’s leadership

Two Alberta UCP members kicked out of caucus after challenging Kenney’s leadership

Toronto Blue Jays' Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (13) celebrates in the outfield at the end of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves Thursday, May 13, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Bichette, Blue Jays rally again to beat Braves 8-4

Bichette, Blue Jays rally again to beat Braves 8-4

FILE - Jordan Spieth waits his turn to putt during the third round of the Valero Texas Open golf tournament in San Antonio, in this Saturday, April 3, 2021, file photo. Spieth will try to complete the career Grand Slam next week at the PGA Championship. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas, File)
Momentum for McIlroy, few others going into PGA Championship

Momentum for McIlroy, few others going into PGA Championship

Most Read