There’s strategic reason behind each of the trips. Pence’s visit is cast as a “call to action” for evangelicals, who vote overwhelmingly Republican in Georgia. Trump is taking direct aim for a solidly-conservative northwest Georgia area where turnout is lagging other parts of the state.
And Biden’s visit targets metro Atlanta, where soaring turnout has already helped Democrats Ossoff and Raphael Warnock build what’s believed to be a formidable early-voting edge. The two want to press the gas to undercut the expected election day advantage for U.S. Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.
“You cannot let up,” said Jamie Harrison, the South Carolina Democratic Senate candidate who was defeated in November, on MSNBC. “I went into election day with a 150,000 vote lead over Lindsey Graham … but on Election Day we just got swamped.”
Republicans face their own guessing game with Trump’s visit, likely his last campaign rally as president.
At his earlier rally in Georgia, a December trip to Valdosta, Trump promoted the two GOP incumbents but spent much of his time airing his own grievances about his election defeat. By urging Republicans to vote in a “rigged” election, he sent conflicting messages to the conservative base.
This time, his visit comes on the heels of a fiery conversation with Raffensperger in which he warned that “you’re going to have people just not voting” on Tuesday if he doesn’t reverse the outcome. Raffensperger rejected the appeal, telling Trump, “the challenge that you have is the data you have is wrong.”
Even before the recording aired, he previewed his visit with a barrage of attacks aimed at Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, who defied Trump’s calls to illegally overturn the election results.
In one tweet, he mocked Kemp’s struggles in a poll against potentially primary challenger U.S. Rep. Doug Collins. In another, he falsely claimed that Tuesday’s runoffs are “illegal and invalid” – undercutting the very reason for his trip to Dalton.
FILE - In this Dec. 15, 2020, file photo President-elect Joe Biden, center, acknowledge supporters at the end of a drive-in rally for Georgia Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate Raphael Warnock, left, and Jon Ossoff in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
Credit: Patrick Semansky
Credit: Patrick Semansky
As for Democrats, Biden’s visit reflects the all-out effort the party is putting behind the push to sweep the two seats and gain control of the U.S. Senate.
Ads and robo-calls featuring Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who stumped Sunday in Savannah, are airing around the state. And Biden is likely to echo the message he made during his last visit to Atlanta, when he tied the fate of his legislative agenda to Tuesday’s votes.
“We can get so much done. So much that can make the lives of the people of Georgia and the whole country so much better,” he said during that Dec. 15 trip. “We need senators who are willing to do it, for God’s sake.”