President Donald Trump stayed about as on-message as he’s shown himself capable of being at his last rally in Dalton, Georgia, on Monday night, hours before Election Day polls open for the double-barrel senatorial runoffs. That meant lots of tangents.
In the opening minutes of the speech, Trump made an ominous “joke” about Vice President Mike Pence, who will be presiding over Congress’ joint session on Wednesday when the chambers vote on the Electoral College vote certification.
“If he doesn’t come through, I won’t like him quite as much,” Trump chuckled about Pence.
Multiple Republicans — including Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), as she gleefully reminded the crowd during Monday’s rally — have pledged to object to the certification of President-Elect Joe Biden as winner. The gambit has virtually no chance of succeeding; it would take a majority in both chambers to have any effect more than a symbolic one.
Rep. Marjorie Greene (R-GA), the QAnon-friendly congresswoman who represents Dalton, cheered Loeffler’s announcement when she took the stage directly afterwards. Greene too will vote against the certification.
Trump meandered through his speech, taking some time for one of his favorite new segments: the Kemp roast. The President has fully turned on Gov. Brian Kemp (R), a loyal ally, livid that the governor won’t help overturn his state’s election results.
“I’ll be here in about a year and a half campaigning against your governor,” he promised. “I guarantee that.” At other points in the speech, he candidly stated that he doesn’t like holding rallies for other people, so one has to presume that these hypothetical future rallies would be purely anti-Kemp.
But his speech didn’t just go after the officials overseeing Georgia’s election. He also targeted the judicial branch, saying that the Supreme Court — to which he has appointed a third of the members — isn’t “stepping up” in regards to deeming him the winner of the election.
Occasionally, he returned to the task at hand: encouraging Republicans to vote for Loeffler and Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) — who is quarantining after coming into contact with someone infected with COVID-19 — on Tuesday.
On that topic, he likely turned in the performance that members of his party wanted: he urged people to turn out and vote, warning them of the threat of a Democratic Senate and using the “last line of defense” argument frequently made by Perdue and Loeffler.
Some Republicans had worried that he’d let his own rigged election grievances fully bleed into the senatorial runoff, convincing his followers that voting would be pointless. But the only remedy to the “rigged election,” he said, is to “flood polling places with a historic tidal wave of Republican voters tomorrow.”
Aside from the few minutes of message discipline, Trump spent the vast majority of the speech rehashing his election conspiracy theories. He read aloud from letters and tossed around numbers and phrases hard to follow for those without an intimate knowledge of the fabricated schemes. In some places, he regurgitated almost word-for-word the arguments he made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in a call over the weekend during which he urged him to “find” nearly 12,000 Trump votes to reverse the result.
But Trump found his way back in the end.
“We will make America great again!” he finished, to cheers and the opening swell of “YMCA,” urging Perdue and Loeffler to “go get ’em.”