Barack Obama (Zoom) rallies Georgia Democrats: ‘This is about the world’

Barack Obama's Memoir, 'A Promised Land,' to Be Released in November
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Barack Obama's Memoir, 'A Promised Land,' to Be Released in November

Democrats go virtual as Pence rallies Republicans in Savannah

Former president Barack Obama was the top draw for a virtual rally on Zoom for Georgia Democrats Friday, with the former president urgently calling on activists to work to get out the vote for Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in the Jan. 5th runoff Senate elections.

“This is not just about Georgia,” Obama said. “This is about America and this is about the world.”

Ossoff is facing Republican Sen. David Perdue in January, while Warnock is running against Sen. Kelly Loeffler. With the control of the U.S. Senate now down to the two Senate seats in Georgia, each party’s most popular and powerful names have made it known that they’ll do whatever it takes to court Georgia voters and win in January.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Democrats have moved much of their campaigning and voter contact to virtual forums, relying on text messages, digital ads and Zoom rallies like Friday’s.

That’s in stark contrast to Republicans in the state, who resumed nearly all face-to-face campaign activities over the summer. At nearly the exact time Democrats went online, Vice President Mike Pence headlined a “Defend the Majority” rally in Savannah for Loeffler and Perdue, with hundreds of GOP faithful out to see the vice president in an airport hanger.

In reality, the Democrats “rally” was more like a lively conference call, with Warnock, Ossoff and 2018 gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams each dialing in from Zoom-friendly backdrops of bookcases and momentos. Obama relaxed in a chair with an informal living room behind him.

“I will do anything I can to help in this process,” Obama said. “But ultimately, it’s the people in Georgia and the people like Jon and Raphael representing them, who will make it happen.”

Along with Obama’s remarks, Warnock and Ossoff also told activists about the ways they could and should be working to secure Democratic votes leading into Election Day.

“For young people in particular, make a plan to vote,” Ossoff said. Young voters are a key focus for Ossoff, who is 33.

And as the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Warnock told people to share the Democrats’ message with everyone they could think of in their community, especially in their places of worship.

“I believe that a vote is a kind of prayer for the type of world you want to live in.” Warnock said.

Ossoff cast the election in January not just as a vote for issues, but for values, as well.

“What’s happening in Georgia is such a beautiful clarification of where the American South is and where our state is,” he said of the fact that Democrats have chosen the Jewish son of immigrants and a black pastor as their nominees.

And Warnock told a story he repeats on the campaign trail to remind activists that their work is not nearly done.

“My dad used to wake me up every morning, seven days a week at 6 a.m., and he’d say, ‘Son, get up, get dressed, put your shoes on and get ready,’” Warnock said. “I just want to say to Georgians this afternoon that it’s time for all of us to get ready and put our shoes on. The battle is not over.”

As Abrams moderated the call between Obama, Warnock and Ossoff, she sounded a lot like candidate herself as she she talked about the issues and areas where Georgians could make a difference with the January election.

“As the president told us, we have the power to change things,” she said, including the future of health care, wages and criminal justice. “These are the things we were fighting for, and more importantly, they are the things we deserve.”

And she left activists with a final challenge ahead of the January 5 election.

“Let’s get it done.”

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