President Trump honed in on his claims of “corruption” in the presidential race as he flew into Georgia on Saturday night to campaign for the state’s two Republican U.S. senators.
“You know we won Georgia, just so you understand,” Trump said, falsely, to roars from the crowd as he kicked off his remarks. “And we won Florida, and we won a lot of places. Thank you.”
Trump claimed “we’re winning” the presidential election hours after he called Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to push him to convince state legislators to override President-elect Joe Biden’s victory there.
“We’re fighting very hard for this state,” Trump said, calling on Kemp to get “a lot tougher.”
Trump reportedly called Kemp on Saturday morning to ask him to call a special session of the state legislature and push lawmakers to appoint electors who would back the president at the Electoral College. Kemp refused, according to officials from both camps with knowledge of the conversation.
Trump also asked him to order an audit of signatures on absentee ballot envelopes, a step Kemp does not have the power to take under state law.
“As I told the President this morning, I’ve publicly called for a signature audit three times (11/20, 11/24, 12/3) to restore confidence in our election process and to ensure that only legal votes are counted in Georgia,” Kemp tweeted after the call.
Trump fired off a response to Kemp, tweeting, “Your people are refusing to do what you ask. What are they hiding?”
Georgia has already held an audit and hand recount of presidential votes that led to the race being certified in Biden’s favor by roughly 12,000 votes. Another recount, requested by the president’s campaign, is underway.
“They cheated and they rigged our presidential election, but we will still win it,” Trump said.
Trump and his wife, first lady Melania Trump, flew to Georgia to campaign for Republican U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who are locked in runoffs against Democrats Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock, respectively, which will decide the balance of power in the upper chamber.
“It’s control of the U.S. Senate, and that really means control of this country,” Trump said. “The voters of Georgia will determine which party runs every committee, writes every piece of legislation, controls every single taxpayer dollar.”
But even as he plugged the GOP senators and attacked their opponents, Trump returned repeatedly and at length to talking about the presidential race he claimed was “rigged.”
“If I lost I would say I lost and I’d go to Florida and take it easy,” Trump said. “But you can’t ever accept when they steal and rig and lie.”
Trump grinned and flashed multiple thumbs-ups as he took the stage in Valdosta for an event that had all the trappings of his signature campaign rallies. He appeared to drink in the “stop the steal” cheers from the crowd of supporters as he ran through his greatest hits, bashing the “radical Democrats” for pushing “the most extreme left-wing agenda ever conceived” and taking shots at U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
Trump riffed that some of his supporters may want to sit out the Georgia runoffs because they’re “angry because so many votes were stolen in the presidential race.” But if they “don’t vote,” he said, “the socialists and the communists win.”
Herald wire services contributed to this report.