VALDOSTA: President Donald Trump made clear on Saturday he had no intention of relinquishing his claims that last month’s election was stolen from him, telling a raucous crowd at his first post-poll rally he would somehow still win.
In a speech remarkable for its twisting of reality more than a month after the Nov 3 election, the outgoing president launched into another litany of allegations that the polls won handily by Democrat Joe Biden were rigged.
The crowd in Valdosta, Georgia, for what was nominally a rally in support of two Republican Senate candidates facing a hugely consequential runoff election roared in support, at one point chanting “fight for Trump”.
Even with Covid-19 cases surging nationwide, there were few masks in the crowd and many ignored social-distancing rules. In a nearly two-hour speech Trump, 74, declared he would not concede, at times sticking to his script but regularly going off-the-cuff for his more incendiary claims.
“We’re winning this election,” Trump told the rally, which was similar to his many gatherings prior to the election, down to the soaring country song “God Bless the USA” played as he took the stage with First Lady Melania Trump.
“It’s rigged. It’s a fixed deal.” It was yet another example of Trump breaking democratic norms, engaging in conspiracy-mongering and presenting falsehoods in ways unprecedented in US history.
His stance has raised the question of how he will react when Biden’s January 20 swearing-in date arrives.
“The swing states that we’re all fighting over now, I won them all by a lot,” Trump claimed.
“And I have to say, if I lost, I’d be a very gracious loser. If I lost, I would say, I lost, and I’d go to Florida and I’d take it easy and I’d go around and I’d say I did a good job. But you can’t ever accept when they steal and rig and rob.”
Trump has barely left the White House since Biden was projected winner of the election on Nov 7, though he has made a number of trips to his nearby golf course.
There had been concerns from some Republicans over whether Trump’s continuing claims of fraud would drive down voter turnout among Republicans in the coming election, making his appearance in Georgia somewhat of a gamble.
The runoff election will decide which party controls the US Senate, and Trump in his speech continued his fear-mongering about rival Democrats.
“The voters of Georgia will determine which party runs every committee, writes every piece of legislation, controls every single taxpayer dollar,” he said.
“Very simply, you will decide whether your children will grow up in a socialist country or whether they will grow up in a free country.”
If Democratic challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff defeat Republican senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, the Senate will be evenly divided at 50-50, meaning Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris would cast any deciding votes, as the Constitution dictates.
The race has drawn enormous attention. One measure of the intense interest: With donations pouring in from across the country, the candidates have already spent more than $315 million, the AdImpact website reported, an astounding figure for senatorial races.
Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2020