Trump tells followers to attend ‘Stop the Steal’ rally on Wednesday, officials are taking measures to avoid violence.
Georgia, USA – On the eve of an election that will determine control of the US Senate, President Donald Trump urged his supporters to vote for the Republicans in Tuesday’s twin election runoffs while still claiming, falsely, that he defeated Democrat Joseph Biden in the presidential election last November.
Speaking to thousands of supporters gathered on an airport tarmac in northwest Georgia, the outgoing president praised Republican candidates Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue and called on people in the state of Georgia to participate in what he referred to as “one of the most important elections in the history of our country.
“America as you know it will be over and it will never, I believe, be able to come back again. It could be your last chance to save the America you love,” Trump said, in a tone that sounded bored and distant at times.
Voters in Georgia return to the polls on Tuesday for two runoff elections in which Senators Loeffler and Perdue face challenges from Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, respectively.
A Democratic victory in both runoffs will give the party control of the White House, the Senate and the House by January 20. Heading into election day, polls show both races at dead heats.
‘I don’t concede’
In his remarks on Monday, Trump promised his loyal supporters that he would continue to fight to overturn the election results.
“They’re not taking this White House,” Trump said. “We’re going to fight like hell, I’ll tell you right now.”
“I don’t concede,” he added. “I think we’re gonna win, in which case we’ll be the last line of defence.”
The president’s false accusation of a rigged election in Georgia has put him at war with Republican officials who oversaw the vote count in Georgia.
Over the weekend, a leaked audio recording of a telephone call Trump held with Georgia Secretary of State Ben Raffensperger showed the president pressuring his fellow Republican to “find” votes after the fact that would carry him to victory.
Trump has also vented much of his frustration on party members who refuse to break rules on his behalf.
On Monday, he fumed at Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp, who recently declined Trump’s request to hold a special legislative session that would overturn the result of the presidential vote.
Trump called for Kemp to be voted out of office.
“I’ll be here in about a year and a half campaigning against your governor, I guarantee you that,” Trump said. “People will remember the people that don’t support us.”
Certification of votes
On Wednesday, Congress is scheduled to certify the presidential election results, adding another layer of formality to Trump’s defeat. Dozens of Republican legislators have promised to vote against certifying the results, including Loeffler, who on Monday announced that she would join the effort to thwart the vote.
“On January 6, I will object to the Electoral College vote,” Loeffler said while appearing on stage alongside Trump.
Perdue, who could not be present because he is in quarantine after coming into contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19, delivered recorded remarks played on a large screen before Trump’s speech.
Final rally as president
Monday’s rally could be the final campaign event of Trump’s presidency. It comes after a tumultuous term in office that resulted in his impeachment and overlapped with a worldwide pandemic.
He lost his bid for a second term in November, with President-elec Joe Biden winning 306 Electoral College votes and beating him by about seven million votes. A candidate needs 270 Electoral College votes to win the presidency.
Despite these realities, Trump and his supporters still contend that Trump won.
“I believe God put him in there and it’s going to take more than man to take him out,” said Cheryle Purdi, a Trump supporter who attended the rally.
Many voters at the rally voiced concerns about the country and said they looked to Trump to reassure them. They are convinced that Trump was victorious and fearful that their vote will not count on Tuesday.
“I think we’re all a little nervous and angry at what’s happened. We need peace of mind that he’s still there fighting for us and our country,” said Danesa Steele from Dallas in Georgia.
“We’re nervous about the Democratic Party. Communism, socialism, Marxism, whatever you want to call it. The loss of American freedom. This election looks like it’s been stolen. Where are we headed? That’s scary.”
On Monday, Trump asked his supporters to hang on just a little longer, and made more promises that he would soon reveal information that would vindicate him. (In reality, there is little to nothing he can do). But between his insistence on the importance of the Senate elections he suggested that despite the promises, he seemed to understand that his days in office are coming to a close.
“The election is over, the presidential election,” Trump said near the end of his speech here.
“But there’s never been anything like this in the history of our country.”