U.S. President-elect Joe Biden speaks during a rally in support of Democratic Senate candidates in Atlanta, Georgia, December 15, 2020.
Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images
WASHINGTON – A triumphant president-elect, Joe Biden, went to Georgia on Tuesday to lead an election rally for two Democratic Senate candidates in the state that earned him his biggest disgruntled win in the 2020 presidential contest.
The drive-in rally in Atlanta was intended to benefit Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, both of whom will run run-off against incumbent Republican senators on Jan. 5. It was Biden’s first campaign event as president-elect, held just a day after the election campaign. The electoral college confirmed its victory over President Donald Trump.
The two runoff elections are about control of the U.S. Senate, and thus the power to either give the green light to Biden’s candidates and his ambitious (and expensive) domestic agenda, or vice versa, to block them.
If either of the two Republican Senators, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, win their races, the GOP will retain its current control of the Chamber, and Biden can expect fights for every candidate and every bill.
Biden had no illusions on Tuesday about the importance of these races. “I need two senators from this state who want to get something done, not two senators who are just getting in each other’s way,” he said. “Send me these two men and we’ll control the Senate and change the lives of the Georgia people.”
After the angry November victory fueled by suburban and black voters, Democrats rely almost entirely on replicating the record turnout they saw last month. It’s a major challenge – special elections traditionally attract far fewer voters than presidential elections – but Biden urged his supporters to buck the trends.
“Will Georgia break the record for voting in these Senate elections? I think so,” he said. “But there are a lot of people who bet you won’t. There are a lot of people who think, ‘Georgia broke the record for votes cast in the presidential election, there is no way you can do it again.'”
“Are you ready to prove them wrong? I think you are. I think Georgia is going to shock the nation with the number of people voting on January 5th,” Biden said.
In a state with a long history of racial voter suppression, Biden reminded people that Loeffler and Perdue supported a recent lawsuit launched by the Texas Attorney General that sought to disqualify millions of Georgia votes in election results.
“Your two Republican senators fully embraced what Texas told the Supreme Court,” he said. “You were fully in favor of nullifying nearly 5 million votes in Georgia. You may want to remember that January 5th is coming.”
Poll averages currently show both Senate races neck to neck, although historical trends favor incumbent senators.
Biden also drew a sharp contrast between the two Democrats in the race and their Republican opponents when it comes to much-needed funding for coronavirus aid.
“We need funding for testing and vaccine distribution. We need to get money into people’s pockets right now,” he said. “We can do so much to make the lives of the people of Georgia and the country so much better, and we need senators who are ready.”
After Biden’s trip, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is also expected to visit Georgia to bolster Ossoff and Warnock, although concrete plans have not yet been released.