The Jolt: Donald Trump’s ‘rescue mission’ for David Perdue

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
March 26, 2022 Commerce - U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene thanks to former President Donald Trump during a rally for Georgia GOP candidates at Banks County Dragway in Commerce on Saturday, March 26, 2022. (Hyosub Shin /



March 26, 2022 Commerce - U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene thanks to former President Donald Trump during a rally for Georgia GOP candidates at Banks County Dragway in Commerce on Saturday, March 26, 2022. (Hyosub Shin /

“A rescue mission.” That’s what several Republican operatives called Donald Trump’s rally on Saturday in Commerce for former U.S. Sen. David Perdue and his other Georgia candidates.

With Perdue trailing Gov. Brian Kemp in the polls and in fundraising, he could use the help. But the jury is still out on whether Trump gave him the boost he was seeking. The next round of public polls should help determine whether it worked.

Here’s what we do know: Perdue’s struggling campaign is sharpening its tactics with the May 24 primary now less than two months away.

The former U.S. senator this week falsely claimed for the first time that he didn’t lose to U.S. Jon Ossoff in the 2021 runoffs. And he doubled down on that lie at the Trump rally, claiming that he and Trump were both victims of “stolen” elections.

“Let me be very clear. Very clear,” Perdue said to the crowd. “In the state of Georgia, thanks to Brian Kemp, our elections were absolutely stolen. He sold us out.”

Kemp, he added, “kicked sand in the face of the president the last two years and said ‘no’ every time the president asked for anything.”

But what was most shocking to us was something that wasn’t in his stump speech. When Perdue promised to ensure that “whoever was responsible goes to jail” if elected governor, loud chants of “lock him up!” erupted from the crowd.

Perdue responded in a way that he avoided during much of the 2020 campaign. He turned toward the cheering Trump supporters, flashed a smile and a thumbs-up sign to the crowd, and clapped along as they chanted.

Keep in mind that Perdue has promised to back Kemp against Democrat Stacey Abrams if he’s the eventual nominee. If that’s the case, cheering on Trump fans who want to imprison the incumbent Republican governor seems a point of no return.

It was one of only a handful of times that the crowd – a much smaller and less enthusiastic gathering than we’ve ever seen at a Trump rally in Georgia – grew animated. Time and again, the audience greeted applause lines with drowsy silence.

Even Trump struggled to captivate the crowd. We could almost hear crickets when he launched into a rant about his support for Buckhead cityhood. That’s also when we noticed the first trickle of attendees head for the gates – soon a growing wave followed.

Trump went through his familiar regimen of lies, attacks and conspiracy theories about his loss in Georgia that we won’t detail here. But this line from Trump near the end of the rally, when many in the audience had already filed out to the sprawling parking lots, stuck out.

“I hope, David, you’re going to be the governor,” he said, “or I just wasted a helluva lot a time tonight.”


Despite the crowd’s ho-hum reception, David Perdue’s advisers left feeling buoyed, unconcerned by the lower attendance and listless crowd. Trump offered enough juicy attacks against Kemp to fill a year’s worth of TV ads. Now we’ll see if he has the money to finance them. In the last disclosure, Perdue had less than $1 million in the bank.


UNDER THE GOLD DOME, Monday, March 28, 2022

  • 8:30 a.m.: Committee work begins with a hearing in the Senate Transportation Committee;
  • 10:00 a.m.: The House gavels in;
  • 10:00 a.m.: The Senate convenes.


We’re keeping an eye on:

  • A vote expected Monday to add “courage” to the pledge of allegiance to the state flag. The state pledge would then read, “I pledge allegiance to the Georgia flag and to the principles for which it stands: Wisdom, Justice, and Moderation, and Courage.”
  • Possible movement for HB 1013, the Mental Health Parity Act from House Speaker David Ralston, which is the topic of a 5:00 meeting of the Senate Health Committee;
  • Sine Die, now just one week away. Since this is the second year of the two-year session, any bill that’s not approved by midnight next Monday will need to start over from the beginning, next legislative session.


Another Saturday rally note: Senate Republican front-runner Herschel Walker was the only member of Trump’s slate not to lean deeply into Trump’s lies surrounding the 2020 vote in Georgia during his speech.

Instead, he talked about culture war issues, opening with his support for restrictions on transgender athletes competing in high school sports. And he framed himself as a happy warrior on the campaign trail, although his tone was razor sharp and more combative than we’ve ever heard.

“I’m not a politician,” he said. “I’m warrior.”


The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to meet Monday to begin to consider the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. A committee vote is expected next Monday, April 4, NBC News reports, with a full Senate vote by the end of next week.


If you were hoping to avoid a replay of the wall-to-wall campaign ads on every device in your home this year, you may want to relocate to a less politically competitive state.

The Democratic outside group Senate Majority PAC has reserved more than $13 million worth of airtime for the final weeks before the November election to help U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock. One buyer told us to expect the total spend to reach a whopping $18 million.


Gov. Brian Kemp’s campaign is pivoting back to offense this week against David Perdue after Saturday night’s rally with Trump.

His campaign this morning highlighted Perdue’s remarks that it was “disgusting” to see Kemp push election-year measures like a teacher pay raise and suspending the state fuel tax.

Kemp spokesman Cody Hall said that unlike Perdue “most Georgia families don’t live behind three gates on a coastal estate and are feeling the effects of the disastrous Biden agenda.”

Hall added, “Perdue’s desperate campaign is no longer just embarrassing, it is dangerous.”


POSTED: U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock is leading a new effort to try to get major U.S. banks to stop charging customers overdraft fees when their account balances go into negative territory.

Letters went out Friday morning to the chief executives of seven institutions, including Wells Fargo and Truist, asking them to rethink the fines that are most often shouldered by poor families, worsening their financial situations. Warnock is among five Senate Democrats who signed the letter asking the banks to report back next week about how they are addressing the issue.


POSTED: Georgia U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and a handful of fellow Democrats also proposed a suspension on the federal gas tax in February that still hasn’t gained much traction in Washington.

But he is taking credit for starting the conversation that led to state Republican leaders signing off on a temporary halt to the state’s gas tax.

Gov. Brain Kemp called for a suspension of the state gas tax in March and signed it into law last week.

Meanwhile, the same Senate Republicans who called Warnock’s legislation a “gimmick” that doesn’t get to the root causes of high prices at the pump are not sending that same criticism to their GOP counterparts in Georgia.

Read more here about why it’s been so hard for Warnock to get done at the federal level what Georgia Republicans were able to accomplish rather quickly.


Protect Our Future PAC, a political group backed by 30-year-old crypto-currency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, has cut its second ad in support of U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath’s campaign in Georgia’s 7th Congressional District.

This new spot praises McBath for protecting benefits for seniors and says the congresswoman “has a plan to keep Medicare and Social Security fully funded by ending tax loopholes for the wealthy.”

The PAC has said it will spend $2 million supporting McBath in her primary against fellow Democrat, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux.

Politico recently reported on Bankman-Fried and his prodigious political giving to both Democrats and Republicans, including Sen. Mitt Romney, as Capitol Hill begins to consider regulations that could affect his Bahamas-based crypto firm, valued recently at $32 billion.


Right-leaning published a story last week about lesson plans on elections in Atlanta Public Schools that Townhall says were developed in partnership with the Stacey Abrams-founded New Georgia Project. You can read that piece at

But it was the source of the information that really caught our eyes-- an open records request from Kelly Loeffler’s Greater Georgia, the group she founded to “register, reach, and activate” conservative voters.

While Greater Georgia’s public-facing work has mostly focused on registering and reaching new voters, an open records request into APS is the first we’ve seen on the “activate” piece from the Loeffler group.


We’re sending our best Jolt get-well wishes to Robin Kemp, a friend of the Jolt and self-described brains behind the Clayton Crescent. Robin won international praise after the Washington Post profiled her work during the 2020 elections. We hope to see her back on the beat soon!


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