President Trump said he will travel to Georgia next Saturday to campaign for the two Republican senators locked in a crucial runoff that will determine which political party controls the U.S. Senate.
Trump made the announcement on a video call with U.S. service members on Thanksgiving in which he again railed against the integrity of the state’s voting system.
“Maybe I’ll go twice,” he said, noting he’d probably draw in a stadium full of supporters in the southern state.
Georgia’s two Republican senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue will face Democratic challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in a Jan. 5 runoff. Warnock is a senior pastor at Martin Luther King Jr.’s church Ebenezer Baptist. Ossoff, a former investigative journalist, gained national attention in a 2017 special election for Congress, nearly flipping a seat long in GOP control.
Following Trump’s travel announcement, Loeffler tweeted, “I’m excited to welcome @realDonaldTrump back to Georgia next Saturday for a rally with @Perduesenate & me! We will ALWAYS have his back – and I’m so honored he has outs! #gapol #gasen.”
Despite near-constant praise for Perdue, Trump’s response to Loeffler hasn’t always been as welcoming.
It is no secret that Trump’s relationship with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, started to turn after he appointed Loeffer to former Sen. Johnny Isakson’s seat. Isakson retired at the end of 2019 due to Parkinson’s disease and other medical challenges.
Loeffler is running for the final two years won by Isakson in 2016.
Trump had wanted Kemp to appoint Rep. Doug Collins to Isakson’s post.
On election night, Loeffler ran in a special election with 20 candidates on the ballot, including Collins and Warnock.
Warnock and Loeffler were the top two performers in that race but because neither won a majority, they will meet again in the Jan. 5 runoff.
Loeffler, 49, and her husband, 65, hold about a $500 million stake in Intercontinental Exchange, which serves as the parent to the New York Stock Exchange. Forbes, which did a deep dive of their finances, estimates Loeffler and her husband are worth at least $800 million.
Loeffler and Perdue have never wavered in their support of Trump and, like the president, has repeatedly pushed the unfounded claim that there was massive voter fraud in Georgia, choosing instead to throw the state’s Republican governor and secretary of state under the bus to keep favor with Trump, who has refused to concede the presidential race to Joe Biden.
Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer told the Washington Examiner he is ready for Trump’s visit and believes it will bring the fractured party together.
“We need the president’s help to win the runoff elections and are delighted that he is returning,” Shafer said Friday. “His supporters here want to see him.”
Following Trump’s video call with service members, he told reporters that he would leave the White House if the Electoral College formalizes President-elect Biden’s victory, even as Trump continued to insist such a decision would be a “mistake.”
When asked if he would vacate the building on Biden’s inauguration day he added, “certainly I will,” but not before insisting that “a lot of things” would happen between now and January that might alter the results.
The outgoing president spent much of Thanksgiving renewing baseless claims of massive fraud on Twitter. He also took a swing at two NFL players from Houston and Detroit that had taken a knee during the national anthem.
“No thanks!” Trump tweeted in response.