VALDOSTA: President Donald Trump made it clear on Saturday that he had no intention of relinquishing his allegations that he had been stolen from last month’s ballot, promising a raucous audience he would still indeed triumph at his first post-poll rally.
More than a month after the Nov 3 election, in a speech notable for its distortion of truth, the outgoing president erupted into another litany of charges that the polls handily won by Democrat Joe Biden were rigged.
The crowd in Valdosta, Georgia, roared in favour of what was nominally a rally in support of two Republican Senate candidates facing a massively consequential runoff race, shouting “Fight for Trump” at one point.
There were few masks in the crowd and many ignored social-distancing laws, even with Covid-19 cases surging nationwide. Trump, 74, announced in a nearly two-hour speech that he would not concede, often sticking to his script but regularly going off-the-cuff on his more incendiary statements.
Trump told the rally, which was close to his numerous meetings prior to the election, “We’re winning this election,” down to the soaring country song “God Bless the USA” playing as he took the floor alongside First Lady Melania Trump.
“They’re rigged. It’s a set deal. It was also another case of Trump violating political conventions, engaged in conspiracy-mongering, and in ways unparalleled in US history presenting falsehoods.
The question of how he will respond when Biden’s January 20 swearing-in date arrives has been raised by his stance.
“Trump claimed, “The swing states that we’re all fighting over now, I won them all by a lot.
“And I have to admit, I would be a really humble loser if I lost. If I had lost, I would have said that I had lost, and I would have went to Florida, and I would have made it easy, and I would have gone home, and I’d have said that I did a decent job. But when they cheat and rig and rob, you will never embrace it.
Since Biden was expected to win the election on Nov 7, Trump has scarcely left the White House, although he has taken a number of visits to his local golf course.
Some Republicans were worried that Trump’s continued accusations of bribery would push down voter turnout among Republicans in the coming election, making his speech in Georgia a bit of a gamble.
The runoff election will determine which party dominates the US Senate, and his fear-mongering against rival Democrats was continued by Trump in his address.
“Georgia’s voters will decide which party runs each committee, writes each piece of legislation, controls each taxpayer dollar,” he said.
“You will simply decide whether your children will be raised in a socialist country, or whether they will be raised in a free country.”
The Senate will be equally split at 50-50 if Democratic candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff beat Republican senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, ensuring Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris will cast any decisive votes, as determined by the Constitution.
The race has attracted tremendous interest. One indication of the strong interest: the campaigns have now spent more than $315 million with contributions coming in from around the country, the AdImpact website reported, an impressive statistic for senatorial races.