ATLANTA (NewsNation Now) — Ahead of President Donald Trump’s visit to Georgia this weekend, Vice President Mike Pence on Friday urged Republicans to form a united front in the Georgia Senate runoffs that will determine which party controls the Senate in January.
Pence campaigned Friday with Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, as the GOP faces the crosswinds of election disputes from November, moving into the key races.
There have even been suggestions from some of President Trump’s allies that conservative voters should sit out the Jan. 5 Senate runoffs in protest, a notion Pence took head on.
“I know we’ve all got our doubts about the last election, and I hear some of you saying, ‘Just don’t vote,’” Pence declared in Savannah. “My fellow Americans, if you don’t vote, they win.”
Democrats countered with their own show of unity, as former President Barack Obama appeared in a virtual rally with Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. Biden, meanwhile, confirmed to reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, where he has based his transition, that he will come to Georgia ahead of the runoffs, though he didn’t say when.
Bubba McDonald, a Republican who faces a Public Service Commission runoff election in January alongside the senators told Republicans angered over the presidential election to “please get over it” and return to the polls.
Talking to Democrats, Obama struck a different tone, celebrating Biden’s Georgia win but warning it’s not enough.
“Georgia is going to determine ultimately the course of the Biden presidency,” Obama said.
Republicans need one more seat to allow Sen. Mitch McConnell to maintain his majority leader post and block Biden’s priorities. Democrats need to win both seats to force a 50-50 Senate and set up Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to tilt the chamber to Democrats as the tiebreaking vote.
The main runoff pitch for Republicans is that a GOP Senate is necessary to keep Democrats from absolute control.
A pall was cast over Pence’s visit after confirmation that a Loeffler campaign aide, Harrison Deal, was killed in an automobile accident. Loeffler and Perdue greeted Pence together late Friday morning at Dobbins Air Reserve Base north of Atlanta before the trio headed to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where the vice president and the senators discussed the coronavirus pandemic and the development of vaccines. But Loeffler changed her plans and did not attend the Savannah rally after learning of Deal’s death.
The accident also kept Gov. Brian Kemp, who counted Deal as a family friend, from greeting Pence in Savannah.