Biden presses Democrats to ensure runoffs aren’t ‘even close’

President-elect Joe Biden urged Democrats to “turn out the vote so it’s not even close” on Tuesday to boost Democratic Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock ahead of Jan. 5 runoffs that will decide control of the U.S. Senate.

“I know what we can do. I know what this country is capable of. I know the future we can build together,” he said. “Now it’s time to send Jon and Raphael to Washington to help me get it done.”

The trip coincides with the start of the three-week early voting period, which began on Monday, the same day a suspense-less Electoral College vote in Georgia and other battleground states confirmed Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump.

And Biden opened by thanking Georgians for making him the first Democrat presidential nominee to win the state since 1992 - even if it required three separate tallies.

More: With victory affirmed, Biden is headed to Georgia for Senate rally

“I’m starting to feel like I won Georgia three times,” Biden quipped, invoking legal challenges and demands from Trump to overturn his victory.

“Georgia wasn’t going to be bullied. Georgia wasn’t going to be silenced. Georgia wasn’t going to stand by and let Donald Trump or the state of Texas - or anyone else - come here and toss out your votes.”

He said the two Republicans, who backed the ill-fated Texas lawsuit, “fully embraced nullifying nearly 5 million Georgia votes.”

”Maybe your senators were just confused. Maybe they think they represent Texas,” Biden said. “Well if they want to do the bidding of Texas, they should be running there instead of here in Georgia.”

Democrats hope Biden can help counter the image that Republican U.S. Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue have cast upon their two challengers: As “radical liberal socialists” bent on raising taxes and upending the criminal justice system.

Follow along for live updates:

4:10 p.m. Biden wraps up, appearing with Ossoff and Warnock on stage.

4:07 p.m. “Turn out the vote so it’s not even close.”

4:05 p.m.: Biden heaps praise on both Warnock and Ossoff, telling voters he can’t wait to work with both in the U.S. Senate.

4 p.m.: “I’m starting to feel like I won Georgia three times,” Biden says of the three tallies that confirmed his victory.

“Georgia wasn’t going to be bullied. Georgia wasn’t going to be silenced. Georgia wasn’t going to stand by and let Donald Trump or the state of Texas - or anyone else - come here and toss out your votes.”

He predicted that “Georgia is going to shock the nation on January 5th.”

3:55 p.m. “Let me start with two simple words: Thank you.”

3:45 p.m. Warnock energized the crowd with promises of passing a new voting right overhaul and expanding access to healthcare if Democrats flip the two seats.

“I’m ready. We can do this. We’ve got big problems and big issues. That’s why we’ve got to stand together,” Warnock said. “Folks who have no vision traffic in division.”

3:35 p.m. Ossoff emphasized how the fate of Biden’s legislative agenda depended on the runoff votes.

“Georgia, we need to do right by Joe Biden,” he said. “We need to make sure Biden can pass his agenda. Because if (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell controls the Senate, they’re going to try to do to Joe and Kamala just like they tried to do to President Obama.”

3:25 p.m. Days after she revealed she turned down a position in Biden’s Cabinet, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms welcomed him to town by thanking Georgians for flipping the state: “Because you dared to use the power of your vote, the moral arc of hits country now bends toward a more just America.”

She invoked her narrow 2017 victory over Mary Norwood, crediting a “groundswell” of energy from Black voters who hadn’t cast ballots in mayoral races in years.

“Throughout that campaign I reminded people all across Atlanta that Atlanta is the place where impossible dreams were able to take form,” she said. “Well, that’s still true today. The impossible dream of turning Georgia blue and keeping Georgia blue can and will take form if you show up to vote on Jan. 5.”

3:15 p.m. Stacey Abrams, the former gubernatorial contender, opened by mocking the Republicans for focusing on preserving the name of the Atlanta Braves baseball franchise rather than coronavirus relief.

“While 161,000 Georgians face eviction this year if we don’t get relief, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are writing strongly-worded letters to a baseball team,” she said. “While 161,000 people worry if they will be able to sleep inside at night, they’re worried about a name of a baseball team.”

She echoed Ossoff’s description of the two Republicans as the “Bonnie and Clyde” of the Senate.

“We need to get ready of Kelly and David. We need to lift up Jon and Raphael,” said Abrams. “And more importantly, we need to lift up the people of Georgia.”

3 p.m.: Outside the rally, a handful of Trump supporters waved signs featuring his “Drain the Swamp” slogan.

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

2:20 p.m. U.S. Rep.-elect Nikema Williams warmed up the crowd with a call for Democrats to make sure the two Republican candidates face the “consequences of their complicity and self-interest” in January.

“Georgians are ready to turn the page on ignorance and inaction, and when we elect my friends Jon Ossoff and Reverend Warnock, we will prove once again that Georgia is a blue state,” she said.

1:45 p.m. The socially-distanced event is being held at the Pratt-Pullman Yards, a 27-acre tract along Rogers Street in northeast Atlanta that’s undergoing a $100 million overhaul to transform it from a dusty forlorn railyard to a sprawling mixed-use development anchored by film and TV studios.

It continues a string of unique backdrops for his trips to Georgia. Biden’s last visit to the state kicked off with a trip to Warm Springs, the historic home of the “Little White House” that President Franklin Roosevelt considered a second home.

But it also presents all sorts of logistical challenges. The site is home to an active construction project, and material and equipment dot the area. Biden will speak in front of a dilapidated building that’s set to be rehabilitated by the developers.

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

1:30 p.m. Atlanta rapper Jeezy opened the rally with one of his trademark anthems: “Put on,” which he also performed in a Verzuz battle with Gucci Mane in November, a showdown that featured an appearance by Stacey Abrams.

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