Donald Trump went down to Georgia on Saturday — ostensibly to campaign for two incumbent Republican senators who, on Monday were ever so slightly behind in polls for a Jan. 5 runoff election against their Democratic challengers.
Trump spoke for an hour and 40 minutes — and very little was said about those GOP incumbents grasping for voter support. Mostly what Trump said could be characterized as his own grievances. In short, so many lies, so little campaigning.
TRUMP: "We won Georgia, just so you understand."
THE FACTS: No he didn't.
Trump lost Georgia in an election the state has certified not once, not twice, but three times now for Joe Biden. The last re-certification was announced just Monday, and Biden still won Georgia by roughly 12,000 votes.
"We have now counted legally cast ballots three times and the results remain unchanged," Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, said. Another Republican, Gov. Brian Kemp, refused Trump's request Saturday to call a special legislative session to try to subvert the outcome. Trump's response was to slam election officials and Kemp yet again in a tweet. Twitter flagged the tweet as "disputed."
Nationwide, Biden bested Trump by at least 7 million votes. No credible claims of fraud or systemic errors have been substantiated.
Yet during Trump's hour and 40 minutes of ridiculous false claims, he said: "If I lost, I'd be a very gracious loser. If I lost, I would say, 'I lost,' and I'd go to Florida and I'd take it easy and I'd go around and I'd say, 'I did a good job.' But you can't ever accept when they steal and rig and rob."
He can't even campaign for Senate candidates graciously, let alone lose graciously. Instead, he continues to send mixed messages to Georgia's Republican voters. How do you tell people that elections are a "steal and rig and rob" show, but ask them to vote because their vote will make a difference?
Here were Trump's best few seconds for the GOP senate candidates. (You'll note the first sentence is partly true, though not the second. The third? Who knows?)
* "The voters of Georgia will determine which party runs every committee, writes every piece of legislation, controls every single taxpayer dollar," Trump said. (In four years, our president has learned some civics.)
* "Very simply, you will decide whether your children will grow up in a socialist country or whether they will grow up in a free country." (No matter who wins the Senate races, our children will grow up in a free country. Democrats are democrats, not socialists.)
* Trump also called the Republican candidates "two of the finest people you'll ever meet" and said they were two of his biggest supporters in Congress. (Hints below.)
Georgia is an all-important election because if the GOP candidates, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, lose to Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, the Senate would be split 50-50, with Democratic Vice President-elect Kamala Harris casting a tiebreaking vote.
But here's what you need to know about these Republicans.
Loeffler was appointed by Kemp last year to fill the seat of retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson. She is the wife of Jeff Sprecher, who owns the company that runs the New York Stock Exchange, and the couple have long been behind-the-scene players in state politics. Since taking the Senate seat, she has polished a pro-Trump voting record and ripped the Black Lives Matter movement.
She'd been on the job less than three weeks when she attended a private Jan. 24, senators-only briefing on the spread of COVID-19. In the days and weeks after, financial disclosures show, either she or her spouse sold up to $3.1 million in stocks. They made just two new purchases, both in companies whose software technology is now in demand as Americans are forced to work from home to slow the coronavirus.
Though she reportedly was cleared of wrongdoing by federal officials, one of her Republican challengers, Rep. Doug Collins, continues to accuse her of profiting off the pandemic.
On Sunday, the day after Trump's Saturday rally, Loeffler, in her own debate with Warnock, dodged more than once Warnock's simple question: "Did Donald Trump lose the election?" Each time she retreated to the tired answer that the president has a right to legal remedies. Sure he does. And they're all failing, so does she understand math or not?
For his part, Perdue won't even debate Ossoff — who has eaten Perdue's lunch already in a previous debate when Ossoff asked why he, too, was trading stocks after that private coronavirus briefing — buying up shares of manufacturers making vaccines and medical equipment. Like Loeffler, Perdue says he was cleared by federal investigators.
On Sunday the debate curtain rose to Ossoff at his podium and microphone, while Perdue's podium and microphone stood empty. It was a powerful statement, and Ossoff took advantage.
"It's a strange situation to be asking a question of a sitting United States senator who is not here to debate as he asks for the votes of the people to be reelected," Ossoff said. "It shows an astonishing arrogance and sense of entitlement for Georgia's senior U.S. senator to believe he shouldn't have to debate at a moment like this in our history. He believes this Senate seat belongs to him. This Senate seat belongs to the people."
FiveThirtyEight on Monday offered this assessment of recent polls since Nov. 9: Warnock has come from behind to now lead Loeffler by 2.2 points and Ossoff, who also initially trailed, now leads Perdue by 0.8.
In ordinary language, the power of the Senate is at a statistical tie with just a month to go.