Thousands of people from Georgia and across the Southeast packed the grandstands at Dalton Municipal Airport on Monday night to see President Trump as he campaigned for Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue on the eve of Georgia's runoff election for two U.S. Senate seats.
Trump arrived at about 9 p.m. Monday and built up the two Republican senators while continuing to decry the Nov. 3 election results that made Democrat Joe Biden the president-elect with victories in Georgia and in the nation as a whole.
"There's no way we lost Georgia, there's no way," Trump told the crowd. "That was a rigged election."
Trump continued in detail to list his complaints about the election — complaints that have been rejected by judges, high-ranking members of his own administration, the Electoral College, the U.S. Supreme Court — and Georgia's GOP secretary of state, who repudiated Trump's claims over and over in a recorded phone call on Saturday.
Trump's appearance on Monday repeatedly flashed with resentment against Republican officials, including Gov. Brian Kemp, who have resisted his demands to be named the winner of the election, which he lost by 12,000 votes in Georgia.
"I'll be here in about a year and a half campaigning against your governor, I guarantee," Trump said at the rally.
Trump also talked up Perdue and Loeffler, who face Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in Tuesday's election.
"You're going to get everyone you know, you're going to show up at the polls in record numbers, you're going to swamp them," Trump told the crowd. "And together we're going to defeat the democratic extremists and deliver a thundering victory."
Perdue, in quarantine, addressed the rally by video, saying, "If we don't all get out and vote tomorrow everything President Trump has done to make America great again is gone."
Loeffler told the crowd in person that she has decided to fight the presidential election results at a congressional session on Wednesday designed to count the votes from the Electoral College, where Biden won.
"On Jan. 6, I will object to the Electoral College vote," Loeffler said. "This president fought for us, we're fighting for him."
The president's children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., made the trip to Georgia as well.
"Patriotism is alive and well in Georgia, and Georgia is going to keep freedom alive in America," Ivanka Trump said. "Please vote."
Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Northwest Georgia also made an appearance.
"We've got to stop this attack, stop our Senate seats from being handed over to these radicals, and we're gonna fight for President Trump on Jan. 6," Greene said. "God bless Georgia. God bless America."
The crowd was rowdy even hours before Trump landed in Dalton.
Jennifer Davo of Canton, Georgia, came with her two children because she wanted them to experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a sitting president in the flesh.
"A co-worker of mine has been at almost every one of his rallies," Davo said. "We took the trip with her, and I wanted to bring my kids just to experience this."
Like many of the people the Times Free Press spoke to Monday night — whether they were from Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina or Alabama — Davo had doubts about the election results in Georgia.
"I was really surprised, but I'm still not sure about the results," she said. "Both the presidential results everywhere and in Georgia more specifically."
Becky Moore, a Dalton native, didn't have a long drive to Monday's rally. She also had doubts on how the results came in on election night in November.
"Georgia is in the South. In the Bible Belt," Moore said. "I was very surprised by the results," adding she didn't think Biden had much of a chance to win.
Moore did say she has more confidence in the January runoff because all eyes will be on Georgia and the added attention will lead to a more transparent process.
"I'm afraid," Moore said, guessing the Senate runoffs will be close, just as the presidential election was.
"I absolutely supported Trump in 2016, and I still do," she said. "The last four years have been amazing, and I think he really looks out for the American people."
Chris Leverette of Ringgold said he doesn't want to see Democratic policies like "defunding the police."
"I support Trump because I want this country to keep being great," he said. "Perdue supports our troops. I don't really have anything nice to say about Ossoff."
Leverette believes Trump will be president for four more years starting in January.
"It'll all work out," he said. "The truth will be set free. We can wait."
Contact Patrick Filbin at email@example.com.
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