ATLANTA (NewsNation Now) — President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden traveled to Georgia Monday in a final bid to rally votes in the tight runoff elections that will determine which party controls the Senate.
A pair of incumbent Republican senators face off against two Democratic challengers in the Tuesday elections, as new efforts by the president to overturn Biden’s victory in the state have surfaced.
If Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue successfully defend their seats, their party would maintain a 52-seat majority in the 100-seat Senate, giving them the power to block much of Biden’s agenda when he takes office on Jan. 20.
A sweep by Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff would hand control to Biden’s party, as Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would hold the tiebreaking vote in the 50-50 chamber. That would make it easier for Biden to enact further coronavirus relief and tackle climate change, as Democrats also control the House of Representatives.
None of the candidates won a majority in their November races, which spurred the runoff elections.
Biden narrowly won Georgia in November, breaking years of Republican dominance in the state. Trump has refused to acknowledge his defeat and his campaign has unsuccessfully sought to overturn the results in Georgia and several other battleground states.
Over the weekend, the Washington Post published audio snippets of a recording of a telephone call in which President Trump asked Georgia’s top election official, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, to “find” enough votes to overturn his defeat. The Associated Press obtained the full audio of Trump’s conversation with Georgia officials from a person on the call.
“All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Trump said. “Because we won the state.”
Raffensperger refused his request, citing that Georgia counted its votes three times before certifying Biden’s win by a 11,779 margin.
“President Trump, we’ve had several lawsuits, and we’ve had to respond in court to the lawsuits and the contentions,” he said on the call. “We don’t agree that you have won.”
Trump confirmed in a tweet Sunday that he had spoken with Raffensperger. The White House referred questions to Trump’s reelection campaign, which did not respond Sunday to an emailed request for comment. Raffensperger’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Democrats and a few Republicans condemned Trump’s actions, while at least one Democrat, Sen. Dick Durbin, urged a criminal investigation.
Biden senior adviser Bob Bauer called the recording “irrefutable proof” of Trump threatening an official in his own party to “rescind a state’s lawful, certified vote count and fabricate another in its place.”
A number of election officials across the U.S., as well as Trump’s former Attorney General William Barr, have confirmed that there was no widespread fraud in the election. It remains unclear whether Trump’s actions and his repeated claims of election fraud will affect the outcome of the Senate races.
Trump is due to visit Dalton, a city in the state’s heavily Republican northwest. Biden will rally along with Ossoff and Warnock in Atlanta.
All reporting by Andy Sullivan and Nathan Layne of Reuters; and Jeff Amy, Darlene Superville and Kate Brumback of the AP.