The US president has held a rally in Georgia ahead of crucially important run-off elections which will decide the balance of power in the US Senate and shape the incoming presidency of Joe Biden and the immediate future of the country.
Donald Trump wasted no time in spouting lies and conspiracy theories as he launched into a tirade about a “rigged” presidential election and fear-mongered about communism, the media, illegal immigrants, taxes and China.
The president – who has 16 days left in power – said he’s not giving up the White House and will continue to fight as his baseless claims of electoral fraud divide the Republican party between Trump loyalists and those who have accepted the integrity of the election result.
“There's no way we lost Georgia,” Trump began Monday (local time).
“That was a rigged election.
“They're not taking this White House. We're going to fight like hell.”
He blasted big tech, blaming it for ushering in communism and railed against “the radical liberal” Senate candidates in Georgie – a state which went for a Democratic president for the first time since 1992 in November’s election.
“They want to turn America into Venezuela with no jobs… and no future for your family,” Trump threatened.
Trump warns supporters: ‘America as you know it will be over’
In a meandering speech the president oscillated between complaining that he was cheated out of the election with vague and baseless claims of voter fraud and painting a dystopian future for the country if the Democrats take control of the Senate.
“They’ll pack the court with crazed extremists,” Trump said, who installed three Supreme Court justices in his four year tenure as president.
“Your religious freedoms will be gone, your borders, and your great new wall will be gone. Your police departments will be gone... Your life savings will be gone.
“America as you know it will be over. And it will never, I believe, be able to come back again.”
Trump later invited Q-Anon promoting senator Marjorie Taylor Greene and his daughter Ivanka Trump on stage to praise him.
Thousands of people online were quick to condemn Trump’s “usual election lies”.
His statements were referred to as “bonkers”, “boring”, “unhinged” and “unconstitutional” by those commenting on the rally on Twitter.
Senate races to determine balance of power
The rally comes on the eve of the two Senate run-off elections after no candidate in both Georgia seats received enough votes in November to be declared the outright winner.
Trump urged those in attendance to get out and vote, saying the country hangs in the balance.
“This is the most important vote you could cast for the rest of your life,” he told his adoring audience.
Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are trying to cause an upset against Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. It’s a battle that will define the next two years of US politics.
Republicans need just one victory to maintain Senate control and force Biden to contend with a bitterly divided government.
Democrats, on the other hand, need to jag both seats for a 50-50 split in the Senate, giving the tie-breaking vote to incoming vice president Kamala Harris, who will succeed Mike Pence as the Senate’s presiding officer.
That would give Democrats a workable majority to go along with their control of the House and executive branch – a scenario that would allow Biden’s agenda to materialise.
President-elect Biden on Monday told supporters they had the power to “chart the course” for a generation as he campaigned with the Democratic candidates in Atlanta.
“Folks, this is it. This is it. It’s a new year, and tomorrow can be a new day for Atlanta, for Georgia and for America,” Biden said at a drive-in rally.
“Unlike any time in my career, one state - one state - can chart the course, not just for the four years but for the next generation.”
The high stakes have drawn hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign spending to a once solidly Republican state which now finds itself as the nation’s new political battleground.
Biden won Georgia’s 16 electoral votes by about 12,000 votes out of 5 million cast in November.
The Trump rally comes a day after a remarkable telephone call between Donald Trump and Georgia secretary of state was leaked to the media.
During the call, Trump pressured Republican Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn the state’s election results ahead of a joint session of Congress that will certify Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory on Wednesday (local time).
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