At his rally on the eve of the Georgia runoff election, President Donald Trump took out his frustration on his now familiar comfort piñatas—Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, the U.S. Supreme Court, and RINOs of all stripes—as he struggles to cope with his loss in the 2020 election.
But on the stage on Monday night in Dalton, Georgia, he added a new one: Vice President Mike Pence.
“I hope Mike Pence comes through for us,” said Trump, in front of a cheering throng of supporters. “If he doesn’t come through, I won’t like him quite as much.”
The ostensible purpose of Trump’s trip to Georgia was to boost Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and David Perdue (R-GA) as they fight to hold their Senate seats—and the GOP’s Senate majority—in Tuesday’s run-off elections, not to issue a veiled threat to the vice president to somehow block the certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory on Wednesday in the Senate.
But it was just one moment out of many during a lengthy speech in which the outgoing president delivered his perfunctory lines supporting the GOP senators, but buried them within winding tirades in which he surfaced new lies and old conspiracies about the 2020 election. The focus, as ever, was on him and the election that just passed, not on the pair of GOP senators facing a hugely consequential election that looms on Tuesday.
The president used his perch in Dalton—possibly his last major political rally before leaving office—to solidify his list of enemies in front of his most dedicated supporters. After openly encouraging a primary challenge to Kemp, his former ally who has declined to overthrow Georgia’s election results, at a rally last month, Trump vowed on Monday to personally campaign against Kemp when he faces re-election next year.
"I'll be here in about a year and a half campaigning against your governor,” said Trump. “I guarantee that."
Trump also teed off on Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, a day after the Washington Post reported on a call between the two in which Trump urged Raffensperger to “recalculate” the election results and find 11,000 new votes for himself.
The nation’s high court was also booed and jeered at the rally, for not entertaining Team Trump’s failed legal effort to overturn the 2020 election. “I’m not happy with the Supreme Court,” complained Trump. “They’re not stepping up to the plate.”
The president also hinted at some future targets of his ire—some of whom were sitting in the crowd. On two occasions, Trump expressed his frustration that Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who has been campaigning for Loeffler and Perdue in Georgia and was in Dalton, did not sign on to a doomed effort from GOP senators to block Biden’s Electoral College victory. On Monday, Lee circulated a letter among senators opposing that effort.
"I'm a little angry at you today,” Trump to Lee from the stage. Later, he said, “I just want Mike Lee to listen to this, when I’m talking.”
The president also nodded to a future star of the MAGA movement—newly-minted Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), a QAnon-embracing conspiracy theorist who represents Dalton. Trump invited her to speak from the podium, where she made a plea for increased turnout.
“Our district has to show up,” she said. “We are not going to let Georgia go to to radical socialists.” Indeed, Perdue and Loeffler will need massive turnout on Election Day in this deep-red swath of Georgia—which has lagged behind in early voting—in order to win.
When Trump did talk about the runoff race, he zeroed in on the Democratic candidates, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, with attacks as much as he praised the GOP senators.
“You cannot lose these two people… they are the most respected people,” said Trump of the duo. “The Democrats are trying to steal the White House, you cannot let them… David and Kelly are running against the most extreme liberal candidates in the history of your state, probably in the history of your country.”
When Loeffler got her moment at the mic, most of her precious time focused on Trump and her election-eve pledge to object to the Electoral College certification on Wednesday—the day after the runoff.
“That’s right,” she said to cheers. “We’re gonna get this done!”