Trump holds ‘victory rally’ in Georgia on eve of senate run-off elections.

US president Donald Trump falsely claimed that he “won the election in a landslide,” as he held a “victory rally” in Georgia on Monday night.

The event, held on the eve of today’s senate run-off elections in Georgia, was ostensibly a get-out-the vote event for the two Republican candidates, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who are facing Democratic challengers in Tuesday’s elections.

But Mr Trump spent much of the evening claiming that he had won the presidential election, asserting that he would still win in “six or maybe eight” states, despite president-elect Joe Biden’s decisive victory in November.

“They’re not going to take the White House, we’re going to fight like hell,” he said of Democrats, adding: “When you win in a landslide, and they steal it and it’s rigged, it’s not acceptable.”

Mr Trump also appeared to challenge vice president Mike Pence to overturn the election result on Wednesday when he is due to preside over the official declaration of results at a joint session of Congress.

“I hope Mike Pence comes through for us. I hope that our great vice president comes through for us...If he doesn’t come through, I won’t like him quite as much.”

At least 12 Republican senators have said they will challenge the election result when the electoral college tallies are counted tomorrow. Mr Pence has said he supports their efforts, but it is unclear if he will declare Mr Biden the winner of the election when the results are declared for the Democrat as expected. Appearing alongside Mr Trump at last night’s rally, Senator Loeffler said she would join the group of senators in opposing the election result.

Mr Trump also hit out at the Supreme Court, following its failure to take up cases related to his claims of election fraud.

“I’m not happy with the Supreme Court. They’re not stepping up to the plate,” he said. “If you’re the president of the United States and you get defrauded out of an election, you should be able to file a suit, but we can’t do that.”

Georgia’s governor Brian Kemp and secretary of state Brad Raffensperger who was pressured by the president to “find” extra votes during a phone call on Saturday also came under fire during the president’s event.

“I’ll be here in about a year-and-a-half campaigning against your governor, I can guarantee you that,” said Mr Trump of Georgia’s governor, whom the president has slammed for certifying the results in Georgia. He denounced Mr Raffensperger as “crazy,” and repeated many of the discredited allegations he made about voter fraud in his phone call with the top election official on Saturday. Mr Raffensperger as dismissed Mr Trump’s claims as “just plain wrong,” and based on “bad data.”

Urging supporters to vote for the two Republican candidates in Tuesday’s senate run-offs, Mr Trump declared: “We won the presidential election, we won it big, and we’re going to win tomorrow, we’re going to win it really big.”

He added: “The Democrats are trying to steal the White House…you can’t let them steel the US senate.” Among those who addressed the event were Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Q-Anon supporter who was recently elected to Congress, and Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka. Ms Trump hailed her father as “the people’s president” who “will never stop fighting.” “Georgia is going to keep freedom alive in America,” she said, as she urged the attendees to send the two Republican senators back to Washington in Tuesday’s election.

Earlier in the evening ahead of Mr Trump’s arrival, the president’s son Donald jnr and his girlfriend Kimberley Guilfoyle addressed the crowd.

All eyes are on Georgia today where the two remaining seats in the US Senate will be decided in a pair of special elections. The contests went to run-offs after no candidate reached the 50 per cent threshold needed to win the election on November 3rd.

33 year-old Democrat Jon Ossoff is challenging David Perdue for his seat, while Senator Loeffler, widely regarded as the wealthiest member of Congress, is facing a challenge from Atlanta preacher Raphael Warnock.

Republicans need to win only one of the races to secure a majority in the senate. Democrats, in contrast, need to win the two contests to control 50 seats in the senate, with incoming vice-president Kamala Harris holding the power to cast tie-breaking votes when needed.

Campaigning with the two Democratic candidates at a drive-in rally in Atlanta on Monday, Mr Biden said that control of the senate, and the fate of much-promised stimulus checks for Americans, rested with voters on Tuesday.

“The power is literally in your hands. By electing Jon and the reverend, you can break the gridlock that has gripped Washington,” he told supporters.

Approximately 3 million people have already voted in Georgia’s senate races, and there are hopes on the Democratic side that the party can recreate the voting mobilization effort that led to Mr Biden becoming the first Democratic presidential candidate in three decades to win the southern state in November. An extra 76,000 people have registered to vote since November’s election, most of whom are expected to vote Democrat according to party officials. But Democrats are also concerned that Mr Biden’s victory in November may have reflected a desire by voters to remove Mr Trump, a dynamic that will be absent from today’s run-off elections.

Former president Barack Obama urged people to vote in today’s election, warning that “the stakes could not be higher. “We’re seeing how far some will go to retain power and threaten the fundamental principles of our democracy,” he tweeted, an apparent reference to Mr Trump’s efforts to pressure Mr Raffensperger. “But our democracy isn’t about any individual, even a president - it’s about you,” he said.

The Irish Times

The Irish Times online. Latest news including sport, analysis, business, weather and more from the definitive brand of quality news in Ireland.

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