Biden campaign launches pre-debate offensive across Georgia

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

President Joe Biden’s campaign will hold more than 200 events across Georgia the week of his debate against former President Donald Trump, part of a mobilization effort aimed at rebuilding the coalition that powered his 2020 win.

The Democrat’s campaign said Sunday the spate of events ranges from watch parties for Thursday’s CNN debate, grassroots mobilizing events, community barbecues, news conferences with national figures and visits from Padma Lakshmi and other celebrities.

It starts with an event Monday marking the second anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade and paved the way for anti-abortion laws in Georgia and other Republican-led states to take effect.

That will feature Latorya Beasley, an Alabama woman whose in vitro fertilization treatments were halted after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that embryos should be considered children. She’ll appear with former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Lakshmi, a TV host, writer and executive producer.

Biden’s operation also plans to open an office this week in Sandy Springs, a former GOP stronghold that’s steadily turned Democratic over the last decade. And hundreds of volunteer canvassing and phone banks events are slated across Georgia the weekend after the debate.

There’s no immediate word on whether Biden will also hold a rally or fundraiser in Georgia during his visit. Trump is planning post-debate remarks at an event hosted by former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler that will cost donors $100,000 to attend.

The Biden campaign’s packed schedule signals a new phase in the president’s effort to recapture a state he won by fewer than 12,000 votes in 2020 thanks to a tenuous alliance of Black Georgians, disaffected Republicans and suburban swing voters.

Trailing Trump by single digits in most Georgia polls, Biden aides have worked to reassure local Democrats that the state remains a campaign priority. Biden’s camp said Sunday it has hired more than 75 staffers and opened 14 offices in Georgia, with more in the works.

Porsha White, who heads Biden’s Georgia operation, said the loaded calendar is meant to capitalize on the “clear choice” that will be on display during Thursday’s CNN debate, the first of two planned presidential showdowns this election cycle.

She said it will contrast Biden’s vision where “freedoms are protected and every Georgian has a fair shot, and Donald Trump’s pledge to serve as a dictator on day one, give tax cuts to the ultrawealthy, and attack women’s fundamental freedoms at every turn.”

People watch a broadcast of the final debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at The Abbey, with socially distanced outdoor seating, on Oct. 22, 2020, in West Hollywood, California. (Mario Tama/Getty Images/TNS)

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Trump’s campaign has employed a different approach. It hasn’t publicized many of its new hires and office openings and is relying on outside groups and the Georgia GOP – a pro-Trump bastion – for key elements of its ground game.

Key Republicans are closing ranks behind his comeback bid. And the campaign has launched outposts in strategic parts of the state, including a new Savannah headquarters unveiled Saturday to target voters who often skip presidential elections.

At the Savannah gathering, Trump operative Wylie Shaw spoke of the upcoming debate as a pivotal moment in the campaign, urging the crowd to “tune in next Thursday to see the beatdown of the century.”

Staff writer Adam Van Brimmer contributed to this report.