Former President Barack Obama made his final argument for the Democratic ticket at a Monday rally in Georgia, which has turned into one of the key battlegrounds of the 2020 election.
Obama opened the rally praising Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee and his former vice president, as being the right man for the White House. However, he kept most of his speech focused on the Senate, which currently has a narrow Republican majority. Democrats hope to win the chamber on Tuesday, and their chances may depend on whether voters in Georgia are willing to oust their two Republican senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.
“Georgia, not only can you put Joe and Kamala over the top, but you can be the state that gives us all a better chance because you’ve also sent Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock to the United States Senate,” Obama said, referring to the Democratic candidates in the races, adding, “You’ve got the chance to flip two Senate seats? I said, I’ve got to go. I’ve got to come. I told Michelle, ‘I’m sorry, baby. I gotta go to Georgia.’ This is a big deal. You have two extraordinary candidates in Jon and the reverend who deserve your vote, and let’s face it, you’ve got two senators who badly need to be replaced.”
“When I heard that your two senators here in Georgia — and ... what I’m about to say is not a partisan statement, I’d be just as hard if I heard a Democrat was doing this, your two senators were publicly telling you that the virus would be no big deal but behind closed doors they were making a bunch of moves in the stock market to try to make sure their portfolios were protected instead of making sure you were protected,” Obama said.
“Man, that’s shady. That ain’t right. They downplayed the pandemic in public, and in private they’re trying to see if they can profit from it. Both of them, not just one of them, both of them. They’re like Batman and Robin gone bad. It’s like the dynamic duo of doing wrong. I don’t know what they were thinking, but I promise you Georgia was definitely not on their mind.”
A number of senators, including Oklahoma Republican Jim Inhofe, North Carolina Republican Richard Burr and California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, were also identified in press reports as having engaged in unusual stock trading in the early weeks of the pandemic. A Justice Department investigation subsequently cleared all the senators except Burr. Perdue and Loeffler have not been charged with any crimes and are not known to be under investigation.
Obama also bashed President Trump for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 230,000 Americans, and the suggestion Sunday night that he might fire Dr. Anthony Fauci “a little bit after the election.”
“What’s Trump’s closing argument right now?” Obama asked. “Last night on his COVID spreader tour he’s going around spreading COVID, he’s like a carrier, because he cares more about having big crowds than he does about keeping people safe.”
Obama also attacked Trump and Republicans for their attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, including a new case being heard in the Supreme Court later this month that could overturn the ACA and result in millions of Americans losing their health care.
“Now they’re in the Supreme Court trying to get the Supreme Court to take your health care away in the middle of a pandemic,” he continued. “Why would you do that? Just to spite me? Why in the middle of a pandemic would you offer nothing but empty promises and try to kick people off their health care? Georgia, something’s gotta go. It’s either your senators or your health care.”
In addition to its two Senate seats, Georgia and its 16 electoral votes appear up for grabs this election, with the polling average between Trump and Biden showing a statistical tie. The last time a Democratic presidential candidate won Georgia was in 1992.
In the two Senate contests, if no candidate can garner 50 percent in either of Tuesday’s races, then the top two finishers will move to a runoff on Jan. 5. That means control of the Senate could come down to one or even two Georgia elections that stretch into the new year.
Ossoff and Warnock spoke before Obama at the drive-in event in Atlanta, along with Rep. Lucy McBath (who flipped a suburban House seat in 2018 and is expected to retain it), Stacey Abrams (the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate whose efforts at voter registration have helped turn the state into a toss-up race) and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
In a statement emailed to Yahoo News, Perdue’s communications director John Burke sought to downplay the importance of Obama’s appearance in the state.
"For Jon Ossoff, getting Barack Obama to repeat his campaign's lies doesn't improve his nonexistent credibility. Ossoff has staked his entire candidacy on lying to Georgia voters,” Burke said in his statement. “He's hid behind big name, out-of-state endorsements to make up for his woeful lack of experience while concealing his radical socialist agenda. He's going to lose this election because Georgians have had enough of his lies."
On Sunday, Trump and Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris both visited the state, while Biden held an event there last week.
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