Donald Trump took advantage of his first live rally since the election defeat last month to claim the result was fraudulent, predicting the case “will go to the Supreme Court very soon.”
Mr Trump’s appearance on Saturday night in Valdosta, Ga. Was aimed at increasing Republicans’ chances of securing two crucial Senate seats in the run-off election scheduled for Jan.5. However, it was more like one of his own campaign rallies, in which he appealed to his main supporters. to substantiate his unsubstantiated allegations of ballot stuffing.
“If I lost I would be a very graceful loser,” Mr. Trump said, claiming he won swing states that went to President-elect Joe Biden. “But you can’t even accept when they steal and manipulate and steal.”
Mr Trump refused to concede the election, pursuing dozens of lawsuits aimed at overturning the result that have been repeatedly dismissed by the courts. His campaign, with the Republican National Committee, amassed at least $ 207 million in campaign donations throughout the transition to challenge the outcome. But it also raised the specter that he could use the War Chest to campaign for the presidency again in 2024.
Mr Trump had previously cast doubt on his own legal strategy, saying last week that it would be “very difficult” to take a case to the short Supreme. He also allowed formal transition procedures to begin for the Biden administration late last month after initially delaying the process.
Georgia Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue are seeking re-election in the second round of elections on January 5, after no incumbent Republican crosses the 50% threshold required for victory. Early voting begins on December 14.
If their Democratic challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff won, it would give the incoming Biden administration control of the Senate. They would, however, have a very slim margin with 50 seats each which would depend on incoming Vice President Kamala Harris voting as a tiebreaker. Opinion polls suggest the races will be close, although the polls have lost some credibility after failing to predict a wave of popular support for Mr. Trump in the November polls. The former reality TV host got 11 million more votes in the 2020 election than his victorious performance in 2016, but ultimately polled seven million fewer than President-elect Joe Biden.
Speaking for more than an hour before introducing Republican senators, Mr. Trump drew on traditional campaign themes, launching criticism of tech companies and fake news, and warning that an administration Democrat would open the floodgates to criminal gangs and a new wave of immigrants. Mr. Trump said Republicans “would never win another election” if border restrictions were lifted.
He also claimed Democrats “will pack the Supreme Court with 24 judges,” up from nine now. Mr Biden said he was “not in favor” of extending the Supreme Court, but would convene a national commission to study the justice system.
Republicans urged voters to participate in the second round in Georgia despite repeated accusations of fraud and election rigging by Mr. Trump.
“Very simply, you will decide whether your children will grow up in a socialist country or if they will live in a free country,” Mr. Trump told fans, encouraging them to come forward in large numbers to win the Senate.
Neither Mr. Trump nor much of the large crowd wore masks despite an increase in Covid-19 cases which has seen positive cases, hospitalizations and death rates skyrocket in recent days. Georgia’s number of cases jumped to a record high on Friday, up 4,947 to a total of more than 438,000 cases, including 2,749 in hospitals. 3,717 additional cases were recorded on Saturday.
Across the country, more than 224,000 Americans tested positive for coronavirus on Friday, a single-day record, and more than 101,000 were in hospital – another gruesome record, according to the Covid Tracking Project. The daily death toll topped 2,500 on Friday for the third day in a row, dipping just below Saturday.
Mr Trump attacked Republican Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, who did not attend the rally, citing the sudden death of a family friend, for certifying Georgia’s result.
“They are fighting harder against us than the radical left-wing Democrats do,” he tweeted shortly before his rally on Saturday night, arguing that Republicans would have won both Arizona and Georgia if the two Republican governors had been more favorable.
Mr Kemp and Mr Trump spoke earlier on Saturday and their tensions over the validity of the vote count played out on Twitter. Mr Kemp denied Mr Trump’s accusation that he refused a “simple signature verification”, saying he had requested such an audit three times.