“I need two senators who will get something done, not two senators who will get in the way,” the president-elect told a crowd in northeast Atlanta on Tuesday.
As early in-person voting in Georgia gears up, President-elect Joe Biden visited the state to drum up support for the two Democrats running in the state’s Senate runoff elections on Jan. 5. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are squaring off against Republican incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, both of whom have refused to recognize Biden’s win.
“People like Jon and Raphael know that public service isn’t about them; they know it’s about [the American people],” Biden said Tuesday during a drive-in rally in northeast Atlanta. “They know that it’s not about enriching themselves—it’s about making people’s lives better. They know their loyalty is not to me or anyone else. It’s to the people of Georgia.”
Referencing how critical the Senate is to his ability to pass and implement policy, Biden also noted: “I need two senators who will get something done, not two senators who will get in the way.”
Democrats hope that Biden’s visit to Georgia—his first since he won the general election—will unify support behind Ossoff and Warnock.
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“The president-elect can motivate our base but also what we call the Biden coalition,” said Tharon Johnson, previously a senior adviser to Biden’s Georgia campaign. “That means the progressives, the liberals, the moderates—and I’d add some suburban Republicans and even some rural voters who might have gotten away from us before.”
So far, Georgia has seen a jump in voter participation for the runoff election: 168,293 votes were cast in-person on Monday, the first day of early voting. That constitutes a 23% increase of in-person voting on the first day of early voting compared to the general election.
During his speech, Biden referenced the three separate tallies that confirmed his win in the state: The former vice president’s margin of victory was about 12,000 votes. It was the first time in nearly 30 years that a Democratic presidential candidate won Georgia.
He also predicted that “Georgia is going to shock the nation on January 5th.”
Former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams also made an appearance at the drive-in rally, where she encouraged Georgians to vote.
“I need you to show up and show out, I need you to bring your friends and your families,” Abrams said. “We have a chance to save America, Georgia. This isn’t hyperbole; this is fact. We need to get rid of Kelly and David, we need to lift up Jon and Raphael and more importantly we need to lift up the people of Georgia because we’ve waited too long we’ve fought too hard but we know how to do it because on November 3rd we showed America what Georgia is all about.”
Biden’s visit is also about appealing to all Georgians, according to Nikema Williams, a congresswoman-elect from Atlanta. She explained that people in Georgia want to see something different out of politics, including movement on economic aid during the pandemic.
In addition to funding boosts, campaign staffers expect Biden’s biggest impact on the Georgia Senate races will be by vouching for Ossoff and Warnock. The two Democratic candidates have never held elected office before and are still building their reputations. This makes it difficult for them to refute incorrect claims from their opponents. Biden vouching for the two shows voters that they share Biden’s progressive but moderate platform.
“Who better to explain exactly what these Senate seats mean and why he needs them to get things done?” Johnson said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.