Trump attacks Gov. Kemp, joins pro-Trump candidates in Perry

“Stacey, would you like to take his place? It’s OK with me.”

PERRY — Thousands packed the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry as former President Donald Trump held a rally for a slate of pro-Trump candidates running for office in Georgia in 2022.

Trump has remained fixated on Georgia and Gov. Brian Kemp since Kemp refused to intervene in the state’s election results, which President Joe Biden won by about 11,000 votes.

The rally was as much anti-Kemp as it was pro-Trump. At one point, Trump said Stacey Abrams would be a better governor than Kemp.

With the exception of Herschel Walker, the GOP speakers took the stage one-by-one, with the same theme: Repeating election conspiracies, denying the 2020 election results, and insisting that Donald Trump should still be the president.

As recently as Friday, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger reiterated the accuracy of the results of the Georgia election, which Joe Biden won by about 11,000 votes. The tally was upheld by a statewide hand recount, a statewide machine recount, a signature audit in Cobb County, and multiple investigations.

“He knows he lost,” Raffensperger told the Washington Examiner of Trump.

Below are updates from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution posted during the candidates’ speeches throughout the event Saturday:

7:40 p.m.: Trump begins to speak after being introduced as the 45th president of the United States. The program, staging, music, and introduction for this rally are entirely unchanged from the rallies during his days as president.

He begins by slamming the 2020 election that he lost as “the most corrupt election in the history of the country.”

Trump goes into a familiar recitation against President Joe Biden, “open borders,” bad trade deals and congressional Democrats.

He also attacks U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock.

“He’s a Marxist controlled by the radical leftist Democrats,” Trump said, adding moments later, “Next year Warnock and every single one of these far Left lunatics must be routinely and resoundingly and decisively defeated.”

But he returns immediately to wrongly insisting he won the 2020 election.

“You know there never has been a concession. You do know that, right?” he says.

Trump complains that Stacey Abrams also never conceded the race for governor, but was excused by the press.

And then he adds a dig about Gov. Brian Kemp: “Of course, having her, I think, might be better than having your existing governor. It might very well be better.”

The former president goes into a litany of attacks against the Biden administration for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, for lifting the travel ban from predominantly Muslim countries, for expanding refugee resettlement and for being “too compromised” on China.

Again, he returns to the 2020 election: “This is all about a rigged election. None of these disasters ever should have been allowed to happen.”

His stream of consciousness dips into many of the same grievances he nurtured during his time in office, including Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and the “Russia hoax.”

At one point, the crowd egged him on with chants of “Lock her up!”

Trump then gets into the point of the rally.

“Now the people of Georgia must replace the RINOs and weak Republicans who made it all possible.”

He lists “really strange” Brad Raffensperger, “your terrible lieutenant governor” Geoff Duncan and “disastrous” Brian Kemp as the RINO’s, spending the most amount of time slamming Kemp.

“They ignored monumental evidence of monumental fraud.”

As Trump continues on about Kemp, he says the governor is likely afraid of Abrams, who is expected to challenge him for governor on the Democratic ticket in 2022.

“Stacey, would you like to take his place? It’s OK with me,” Trump says.

In response, a man in the crowd yells “We don’t want her!”

The former president proceeds to repeat debunked conspiracies about the Georgia elections, which have all been discredited by state election officials.

He also slams Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, who “unfortunately has decided not to get involved” in Trump’s ongoing accusations of fraud.

Trump is under investigation for election interference following his call to Raffensperger pressuring him to overturn the election results.

“They’re only interested in me and others because I bring voter fraud to the forefront in order to save our nation from corrupt elections,” he says. “And to make sure that this never, ever happens again.”

After speaking for more than 90 minutes, Trump brings each pro-Trump candidate up to the stage.

He also gives a shout-out to former U.S. Sen. David Perdue in the audience, whom he has reportedly tried to recruit for a primary race against Kemp.

“Are you running for governor, David Perdue? Did I hear you’re running for governor?”

He finishes with a list of the “epic failures” of Democrats and the accomplishments of what he says was one of the best presidencies in the history of America.

“No president, or certainly very few, have accomplished what we accomplished in four years.”

Trump wraps up after nearly two hours with a familiar, “We will make America great again!”

6:20 p.m.: Herschel Walker’s campaign video plays for the crowd and the former UGA football star takes the stage for his first campaign speech of his run for U.S. Senate.

Walker keeps his remarks mostly high-level and positive. On politics, he says he was once told he was a conservative. “I am a conservative because I like law and order? I am a conservative because I like school choice? I’m a conservative because I like border control? I’m a conservative because I like fair elections?”

For the rest of the time, Walker largely avoids topics of policy and instead spends his time praising the United States as “the best country in the world” and promising to bring people together.

He describes his childhood growing up in nearby Wrightsville and addresses some of the biggest questions about his candidacy.

He says that people have asked what qualifies him to run for office.

“What qualifies me to run is because I love America,” he says.

He says people have said he’s not from Georgia. “I am Wrightsville-born. I am Georgia-bred. And I’m gonna die Jesus Christ-dead, because I love the Lord.”

Walker says that leaders should be held accountable who “take care of home first,” and follow the Constitution.

He says the only way to bring the country together is by electing good people to office. “Don’t let the Left try to fool you with this racism thing. This country isn’t racist,” he says.

“We have to come together as people and not be upset because someone doesn’t agree with you,” he says. “I want to bring people together to make this the greatest country in the world because it is the greatest county in the world.”

He says he knows he’s not a conventional politician.

“Herschel Walker don’t look like a politician. Herschel Walker don’t dress like a politician. Herschel Walker don’t look sound like a politician,” he says. “But Herschel Walker is running for the United State Senate.”

Unlike the rest of the speakers, Walker’s only reference to election impropriety comes at the end, and even that did not attack Georgia’s elections specifically.

“I want all of us who have a chance to vote, legally, to go out and vote for the United State Senate,” he said. “And those that can’t vote legally, get legal and vote for Herschel Walker.”

6:10 p.m.: U.S. Rep. Jody Hice begins by detailing what he calls Biden’s failings.

But when he turns to his run for secretary of state, the crowd gives him the loudest applause of the night.

“It is time to give Brad the boot!” he says.

“He has opened the door for all sorts of irregularities and fraud to march into our election system, and it is time that we take charge, so I’m stepping up for this reason,” Hice says. “We’ve got to restore election integrity in this state.”

Hice says he will not allow a federal takeover of elections and hits Raffensperger for not, in his opinion, going after election fraud.

“As long as these people are allowed to continue cheating, they will do so,” Hice said.

He ends by asking the crowd for their vote and support, and their prayers.

“We need the hand of almighty God to intervene,” Hice says.

Burt Jones, candidate for Georgia lt. governor, speaks at former president Donald Trump's Save America rally in Perry, Ga., on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

Credit: Ben Gray

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Credit: Ben Gray

6 p.m.: State Sen. Burt Jones, a candidate for lieutenant governor, from nearby Jackson, begins by calling the current state of affairs in the country “unconscionable.”

“I am running because I am tired of being pushed around by the liberal Left and the Democratic Party who think we have to pander to everything they want,” he says.

Jones starts to talk about this football career as a walk-on for the University of Georgia football team and is interrupted by the crowd buzzing about the last election.

“I’m getting to the audit,” he says.

Jones promises to “get rid of those voting machines,” referring to the Dominion voting machines that Georgia purchased ahead of the 2020 elections.

“Right now, I feel like our leadership has failed us at the state level,” he says, adding later. “We have got to get people believing when they go to the polls that their vote truly counts.”

Jones segues into education and taxes, hitting out at the special interests and the “elites” in Atlanta and touts his endorsement from Trump.

5:50 p.m.: U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene takes the stage and repeats Vernon Jones’ election conspiracies.

“Let me ask you a question. Who is your president?” she asks.

“Donald Trump!” she and the crowd yell together.

“Donald Trump won Georgia. And that’s why I’m calling for an audit in Georgia,” she says. “It’s time to do it.”

Greene goes on to insult her Democratic colleagues in the House and ridicule both masks and vaccines as protections against COVID-19.

“Nobody has the right to force us to be vaccinated,” she says. Greene ends by ridiculing President Joe Biden and calling for his impeachment.

5:45 p.m.: Vernon Jones, a candidate for governor challenging Gov. Brian Kemp, speaks and immediately says the results of the 2020 election in Georgia were a fraud.

“I’m ready to fight for an audit! They want you to think you are crazy. We are going to let them knw that we are not going to back down, back off or back away.”

Jones says the Georgia Legislature never should have certified the 2020 election results.

“2020 was a joke! Our governor should be leading with this audit,” Jones yells.

The crowd roared along with Jones, cheering him on.

“Is Donald Trump our leader?” he yelled. “Yes!”

5:30 p.m.: The evening got underway with a speech from David Shafer, the chairman of the Georgia Republican Party. The crowd chanted “audit, audit, audit,” and he joined in with a few. “I’m with you, I’m with you.”

4:30 p.m.: Two giant screens displayed Georgia’s rout of Vanderbilt and a cover band played 1980s hits, while long lines stretched at a handful of food trucks hawking cold lemonade and steak sandwiches.

It will be a debut of the pro-Trump slate of candidates running for Georgia offices next year, headlined by Herschel Walker’s first campaign speech since entering the Senate race last month.

U.S. Rep. Jody Hice and state Sen. Burt Jones have Trump’s blessing for secretary of state and lieutenant governor.

It was Ken Hewell’s first Trump rally. He drove in from Flowery Branch to show his support for the former president and get a taste of the next presidential race.

”I think he will run again in 2024, and if he doesn’t, I will support someone who has his brand of politics — someone who comes from outside politics,” said Hewell.

Darren Smith said he drove in from Dothan, Alabama, to oppose the “leftist agenda and all this woke stuff that’s crap.”

”This is about the movement,” he said. “We’re sick to death of politicians.”

Overhead, Democrats trolled the thousands of attendees by renting a plane that circled the fairgrounds towing a red-white-and-blue sign that read: “Tax the rich: Build Back Better” in honor of the Biden’s plans to boost infrastructure spending and expand the nation’s social safety net.

DNC spokesperson Adonna Biel released the following statement ahead of Trump’s appearance.

”We’re not even going to pretend to be surprised at the incredible waste of time and money Donald Trump is putting into the roadshow he’s bringing to Georgia. After tanking our economy, contributing to hundreds of thousands of Americans losing their lives, and pushing a Big Lie that led to an assault on the Capitol and police officers, you’d think Republicans would recognize his toxicity and want him to fade into obscurity. Instead Republicans across the country, and especially in Georgia, keep kissing the ring of Donald Trump.”