‘One more time’: Barack Obama stumps for Raphael Warnock - again

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

A fired up Barack Obama returned to Georgia on Thursday imploring voters to go out and vote “one more time” and send Raphael Warnock back to the U.S. Senate.

The former president spoke to a boisterous crowd of several thousand people ahead of Tuesday’s runoff, which will determine whether Warnock or his Republican challenger, Herschel Walker, go to Washington. In an exceedingly close general election race, neither earned the 50% needed to win outright, forcing them to battle into overtime.

“I’m here to tell you, we can’t let up. I’m here to tell you, we can’t tune out. We can’t get complacent. We have to run through the tape,” Obama said. “And I know you can do it because you did it before.”

Obama ticked through the accomplishments — infrastructure spending, cuts to prescription drug prices and gun control legislation — that were possible because Warnock and fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff were elected in the state’s 2021 Senate runoffs.

A Warnock win would give Democrats 51 seats in the Senate, instead of 50. That, said Obama, would mean preventing one person from holding up votes in the chamber and prohibit someone who “chases wacky conspiracy theories” from amassing power.

“What’s the difference between 50 and 51?” he asked. “The answer is, a lot.”

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

The former president last visited the state just five weeks ago to energize voters in advance of the Nov. 8 general election. The nation’s first Black president, Obama is a powerful ally for Warnock, who needs Black voters to turn out in large numbers in order to win.

His speech came the day before early voting ends in Georgia. Already 1.1 million people have cast ballots in the state.

Using the speech to throw some shade at Walker, Obama evoked the former football player’s rambling speech at a campaign event in McDonough where he mused about vampires and werewolves.

“Since the last time I was here, Mr. Walker has been talking about issues that are of great importance to the people of Georgia like whether it’s better to be a vampire or a werewolf,” Obama said.

Obama said that was a debate he had as well.

“I was seven,” he deadpanned.

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Noting that Walker ultimately came down in favor of werewolves, Obama said, “he can be anything he wants to be, except for a United States senator.”

Obama also called out Walker for bragging that he let him win at basketball before later saying they had never met.

“I guess this was more of an imaginary whooping that I laid on him,” Obama said.

“This would be funny if he weren’t running for Senate,” he continued. “When again, and again you serve up bald-faced lies, that says something about the kind of person you are and the kind of leader you would be.”

At a campaign event in Columbus earlier in the day, Walker stuck to a familiar stump speech aimed at energizing core Republican supporters. He made no mention of Obama at the rally but did mention the former president in an interview with Fox News.

“One of the things that they’ve got to remember, President Obama is a celebrity, and that seems to be where Raphael Warnock’s getting his money from — celebrities,” Walker said.

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Warnock spoke before Obama and was interrupted several times by chants of “one more time.”

“This isn’t about right and left,” Warnock said. “This is about right and wrong.”

He added, “I believe in my soul that Georgians know Georgia is better than Herschel Walker.”

Staff writer Greg Bluestein contributed to this article.