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Vice President-elect Kamala Harris called out President Donald Trump during a campaign rally on Sunday for pressuring Georgia’s secretary of state to change the 2020 election results.
“Have y’all heard about that recorded conversation? Well, it was certainly the voice of desperation, most certainly that,” Harris told onlookers during a drive-in rally in Savannah, Georgia. “And it was a bald-faced, bold abuse of power by the president of the United States.”
During an hour-long conversation on Saturday with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, the president repeatedly asked for the state election official to “find” enough votes to reverse his loss to President-elect Joe Biden in Georgia, according to a recording of thephone call obtained by The Washington Post.
Harris, a California Democratic senator, returned to the Peach State for a second event in as many months to charge up voters on behalf of challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, who are looking to defeat Republican incumbents David Perdue and Kelley Loeffler, respectively.
The appearance is part of a last-minute effort to boost Democratic chances in the Jan. 5 runoff elections, which will determine control of the Senate. Harris’s visit comes a day before President-elect Joe Biden is set to appear in Atlanta to stump for the two Democratic candidates.
Biden and Harris stopping in Georgia underscores how important the state is for Democrats in setting the policy table in 2021.
The 117th Congress saw 50 Republicans sworn into the Senate this week, along with 48 members who will caucus with Democrats.
If Ossoff and Warnock win, Harris would be the tie-breaking vote as vice president, and would give the incoming administration’s priorities an edge. If either challenger loses, however, Senate Majority Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., would retain control.
Harris tied the outcome of the runoff races to putting closure on 2020, which was defined by the coronavirus pandemic infecting millions of Americans, killing more than 350,000 and destabilizing the economy.
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“It is not over until we get through with the end of Tuesday, then we can truly celebrate the new year,” she said.
During the rally, the incoming vice president, who will be the first woman and woman of color to hold the office, recited some of Biden’s priorities, such as protecting the Affordable Care Act and providing people with a higher COVID-19 relief check of $2,000.
Harris spent much of her speech, however, talking about efforts to suppress the vote in previous Georgia elections, and subsequent lawsuits challenging the 2020 election results.
“Why are such powerful people trying to make it difficult for us to vote,” she said. “Because they know our power, they know when we vote things change and they know when we vote we win.”
Georgia has been a reliable GOP stronghold for decades, but it surprised political observers when it went for a Democrat for the first time since 1992. Many point to an upswing of voter registration, in addition to higher turnout in urban centers and burgeoning suburbs, led by grassroots organizers as the source of Biden’s win.
As a resultof the president’s unexpected loss in the state, Trump has had sharp exchanges with Georgia’s top Republican state officials, including Gov. Brian Kemp.
When the president swung through the state in early December he vowed to return for a “big rally” on election eve, but also took a swing at GOP state officials in the process saying how he was treated “badly” by the governor and Raffensperger.
But Trump reiterated how there must be a “massive victory” for Perdue and Loeffler, who have echoed the president’s unfounded claims of a mass election fraud in the election.
On Sunday, the president continued to hammer Raffensperger, saying how the GOP secretary of state was, “unwilling, or unable,” to answer questions about various unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud.
“He has no clue!” Trump tweeted.
“Respectfully, President Trump: What you’re saying is not true,” Raffensperger responded. “The truth will come out,”
Democrats point to GOP infighting as a good sign, coupled with higher state average turnout so far in areas such as Fulton, DeKalb and Cobb Counties, which were strongholds of Black voters who helped win the state for Biden.
More than 2.5 million people have already cast a ballot in the runoffs either through early in-person or by mail, according to the Georgia secretary of state’s office.
That’s less than the roughly 3.2 million Georgia voters who had cast an early ballot at this point ahead of the November 2020 election, but Democrats are optimistic given the high early turnout in their congressional districts compared to Republican areas.
During her speech, Harris saidGeorgia is the center of not just who will control the Senate in 2021, but is part of a national fight about the legitimacy of U.S. elections.
“You will make a decision about who is holding these most powerful positions that will chart the course for Georgia families and those across the country,” she said. “So I’m here to thank you on behalf of Joe and myself for what you did in November, and I’m here to ask you to do it again.”