Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) refused to admit that President Donald Trump lost the election during a Sunday night debate, a day after Trump falsely declared himself the winner of the state at her and Sen. David Perdue’s (R-GA) campaign rally.
Loeffler got the first question of the night, about whether she believed that the election was rigged and supported Trump’s call for the legislature to hold a special session to somehow overturn the results.
“It’s vitally important that Georgians trust our election process,” Loeffler said, largely ignoring the question. “The President has every right to every legal recourse, and that’s what’s taking place, but I’ve called for investigations.”
She did not directly respond to the followup question about whether the election was rigged, instead pointing out that the New Georgia Project is under investigation. Reverend Raphael Warnock, her opponent, formerly ran the organization, which Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has named as being investigated for possible voter registration fraud. The group’s CEO called his allegations “bogus,” saying that the incident in question involved a volunteer sending a registration reminder to the wrong address by mistake.
Later on in the night, during a segment in which the candidates asked each other questions directly, Warnock pushed Loeffler to admit that Trump had lost the election.
She again repeated an iteration of her line about Trump having the right to legal recourse, and said that she’d called for a signature audit, a recent rallying point for Republicans trying to stay on Trump’s good side by casting doubt on the election while showing his base that they’re trying to reform the system for the runoff.
Warnock asks Loeffler directly if Trump lost the election. Loeffler dodges the question pic.twitter.com/3uXg3BnXqZ
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) December 7, 2020
In reality, a signature audit could only happen by a court order at this point, per Raffensperger — plus, such an audit has already happened in the course of Georgia’s prodigious post-election recounting, auditing and recanvassing. It would also be completely pointless, as officials would have no way to trace back a non-matching signature on an absentee ballot envelope to the vote it once contained.
One moderator tried to box Loeffler into a corner by echoing back her line about everything being at stake in the January election. Logically, if Trump has won a second term, Republicans would keep Senate control even if Loeffler and Perdue lose, as Vice President Mike Pence would cast the tie-break vote. Loeffler countered that the Senate “majority” is at stake, something Republicans can only get if she or Perdue wins.
Besides Loeffler’s contortions, the debate was largely a regurgitation of the attacks currently found in the ads that are inundating the people of Georgia. Loeffler tried to position Warnock as a radical, citing the same handful of snippets from his sermons as proof. Warnock hit Loeffler on her pandemic response and stock trades, trying to make her out as only concerned about enriching herself.
Perdue refused to debate the other Democratic candidate, Jon Ossoff, after Ossoff had a viral moment during a pre-Nov. 3 debate during which he called Perdue a “crook.” Ossoff took the stage Sunday night next to an empty podium.
The day before, Trump had stumped for the senators in Valdosta, Georgia, where he ensured that they’d continue to accommodate his fictions by spending nearly the entire speech airing his election grievances.
Raffensperger urged his fellow Republicans to move on from the conspiracy mongering at a Monday morning press conference.
“It’s time we all focus on the future and growth,” he said. “I know there are people that are convinced the election was fraught with problems. But the evidence — the actual evidence, the facts — tell us a different story.”