An epic political day: Kamala Harris rallies in Georgia, Trump to arrive tonight

Vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris and President Donald Trump.

Credit: Associated Press

Credit: Associated Press

Vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris and President Donald Trump.

The White House race pivots to Georgia on Sunday as President Donald Trump and Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris rally their core supporters in a state where recent polls couldn’t be closer.

Just eight days after her last visit, Harris is making a beeline to Gwinnett County early Sunday afternoon. Once a Republican stronghold, the suburban county flipped in 2016 – and Democrats now aim to run up the score in a county that’s increasingly tilted in their favor.

Trump is headed to Rome for an 8:30 p.m. rally in one of the most conservative corners of the state, hoping to drive up turnout among mostly white, rural conservatives who form the most reliable bloc of his electoral coalition in Georgia.

The visits come as polls show Trump and Joe Biden deadlocked in Georgia, which last voted Democratic for president in 1992. Though Trump easily captured Georgia in 2016, the Democratic surge in the suburbs has forced him to the defensive this year. His trip Sunday is his fourth to Georgia since July; by contrast, he didn’t visit once in the final stretch of the 2016 race.

Harris last stumped in Georgia on Oct. 23, making multiple stops across Atlanta in an appeal to wavering Black voters. Her visit Sunday focuses on Gwinnett, where Democrats aim to sweep countywide offices and early voting turnout has already exceeded the overall 2016 total.

“Georgia is an important state,” Harris said upon arriving shortly before noon. “And the people of this state have a lot at stake in terms of the outcome of this election. We’re here, and I’m here, to listen and to let them know I’m thinking about them.”

‘Don’t panic’

Shortly before Harris’ spoke at a rally outside Infinite Energy Center, a string of Georgia Democrats took the stage. Senate Democratic nominee Jon Ossoff ribbed Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue for canceling the third and final televised debate, scheduled for Sunday evening, so he could appear with President Donald Trump at a rally.

“We were supposed to debate again tonight, but Senator Perdue isn’t coming. See, Senator Perdue is not just a crook – he’s a coward,” said Ossoff. “Imagine being a sitting United States Senator too afraid to face your opponent in open debate?”

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson joked that Harris – who visited Georgia just eight days ago – “just can’t get enough of our beautiful, soon-to-be blue state.” And Stacey Abrams, the party’s 2018 gubernatorial nominee, urged Democrats to stay clearheaded ahead of Election Day.

“Don’t panic. We got this guys. We know what we’re facing this time,” said Abrams, adding: “If we don’t panic and don’t get out of line, we get what we deserve. That is a government for the people and by the people – and made so by the state of Georgia.”

Trump is focused on his core constituency with his visit to Rome, the heart of one of the nation’s most conservative congressional districts. His strategy is to offset Democratic gains in the suburbs by energizing a rural Georgia base that fueled his 2016 victory.

Both will also promote down-ticket candidates. U.S. Sen. David Perdue is neck-and-neck in polls with Democrat Jon Ossoff. And Democrat Raphael Warnock is expected to face U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler or U.S. Rep. Doug Collins in a likely January runoff. Both races could determine control of the U.S. Senate.

A record 3.9 million people have already cast ballots, and Republicans are relying on heavy Election Day turnout to keep Georgia in the GOP column.

Georgia’s moment in the national spotlight won’t be fleeting. Former President Barack Obama is headed to Georgia on Monday for an election eve rally, and both parties could scrap through Jan. 5 over the Senate contests.