Republicans in Georgia juggle competing messages

Across the state, legislators listened to a series of debunked conspiracy theories alleging a sinister plot to steal an election from President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

In remarks clocking in at just under 30 minutes, Pence warned that if Republicans don’t maintain the seats Democrats will control the Senate and their “radical” agenda will be left unchecked.

“Our agenda is for American greatness, theirs is for American decline,” Pence told the crowd. “Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock’s agenda is for a socialist agenda of government run health care and the Green New Deal.”

The central premise Pence’s argument is based on the belief that there is a Senate majority at stake. That means a 50-50 split would lead to the vice president breaking the tie. If Democrats are in a position to break that tie, it means Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, not Pence would be casting the deciding vote. But Pence made only a passing mention of his boss President Donald Trump’s ill-fated attempt to overturn the results of the November election, but spent plenty of time warning the Senate majority was in danger.

“We’re fighting every day to hold the line and save the majority in the United States Senate. It’s really why I’m here,” Pence said.

It was a much different scene 140 miles east on Interstate 20 where Giuliani, freshly released a stint in the hospital recovering from coronavirus and joining via Zoom conference, was pleading with members of the Georgia Legislature to take action to overturn the results of the November race and claimed with certainty that Trump will be in office beyond January 20, 2021.

“I think you’re seeing a reaction throughout the country with the brave action of Texas, of the state of Texas, now 17 other states standing with them, saying it is clear that this was a theft of an American presidency, not just a theft of an election,” Giuliani told lawmakers, who participated in a hearing via teleconference after the legislature was forced to go remote following Giuliani’s coronavirus diagnosis.

Giuliani’s claims were largely without merit and run completely contrary to what GOP election officials in Georgia have said about the race — both the Republican governor and secretary of state have rejected all the President’s claims of fraud and have certified the results after three separate recounts. Despite those facts, Giuliani continued to peddle the false narrative that the election was fixed and the system in Georgia was flawed.

In nearly 30 minutes of uninterrupted remarks, Giuliani pointed to debunked videos he claimed showed poll workers in Georgia unloading fraudulent ballots, claiming, “they look like they’re passing out dope, not just ballots — it is quite clear, they’re stealing votes,” and accusing election officials, of “obviously, surreptitiously passing around USB ports, as if they’re vials of heroin or cocaine.”

The Trump campaign has yet to present what they claim is evidence of ballot fraud in a court of law.

Meanwhile, Pence urged Georgia Republicans to the polls to support Perdue and Loeffler, suggesting they take advantage of the state’s early voting and mail-in ballot system, despite attempts from Trump and his allies to undercut both. Despite repeated attacks on the validity of Georgia’s election, Pence also told supporters he wanted them “to be confident in your vote.”

“We’re on them, this time. We’re watching,” he said. “We’re going to secure the polls, we’re going to secure the drop boxes, so get an absentee ballot in today and vote, don’t wait, get it done.”

Vice President Mike Pence speaks to the crowd during a rally Thursday in Augusta, Georgia.

Pence’s remarks offered a brief nod to Trump’s ongoing efforts to overturn the legally certified vote in Georgia, mentioning the need to count “every legal vote” and promising to support the various legal challenges seeking to overturn the election the President and his allies have presented across the country.

“I don’t know if you heard about, so far, just in the last few days, 18 states have joined the Lone Star State to defend the integrity of our elections before the highest court in the land,” he said. “President Donald Trump deserves his day in court, the Supreme Court, and all I can say is God bless Texas.”

But while Pence promised to be by Trump’s side “until the very end,” he offered no indication he’d be on hand as vice president to break any legislative deadlocks in the Senate, instead, warning the crowd that the path to the Senate majority ran directly through Georgia.

“Stay in the fight to defend the Republican majority in the Senate,” Pence cried. “And stay in the fight all the way to the polls in January!”

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