President Trump should stay far away from Georgia’s Senate runoff elections, according to one top ally and campaign adviser.
A visit by Trump to the state to stump for Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue “would be folly,” said John Fredericks, a radio host and Trump campaign advisory board member.
Though the pair of Senate races will determine whether the Republican Party maintains control of the chamber, Fredericks sees a more pressing issue: Trump’s own race, which hangs in the balance until state’s electors vote on Dec. 14.
Trump “absolutely should not come to Georgia,” Fredericks told the Washington Examiner on Monday. “Georgia Republicans have to get out Georgia voters.”
Instead, the president should do “exactly what he’s doing: run the country and stay on top of his legal team to make sure that every legal vote is counted and every illegal vote is thrown out,” he said.
Fearful what a Democratic White House paired with majorities in the Senate and House could mean, Georgia Republicans are clamoring for a Trump visit.
“We have no turnout operation that rivals him,” one longtime Georgia GOP operative told the Washington Examiner on Friday, as Vice President Mike Pence made stops in Canton and Gainesville.
Former Rep. Jack Kingston, a Republican who held Georgia’s 1st Congressional District for more than two decades, said he hoped Trump would unleash his “firepower” in time for early voting, which begins Dec. 15.
Fredericks warned that if the runoffs were held today, “both Democrats would win,” thanks, in part, to Stacey Abrams “brilliantly orchestrating” turnout. “They’re going to flood the zone again,” he said.
On Monday, Donald Trump Jr. called on Trump supporters to back Loeffler and Perdue, as some fear that the president’s absence from the top of the ticket could limit turnout.
That is NONSENSE.
IGNORE those people.
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) November 23, 2020
Trump is contesting the results of the presidential race in Georgia and several other states, and in a move backed by Sens. Perdue and Loeffler, filed a request for a recount over the weekend.
According to results certified by the state Friday, Joe Biden leads Trump by 12,670 votes of about 5 million total cast, a 0.25% margin that falls well within the 0.5% limit permitted by state law.
Among the Trump campaign’s concerns is the matching of signatures on absentee ballot envelopes to voter registration.
Fredericks pointed to Trump’s claims of irregularities and said voters may be thinking, “Why bother voting when they’re just going to steal it again?”
If Republicans don’t back Trump, “the party is going to collapse,” he said, meaning that Republicans will lose a core base of support. “There’ll be no party,” he added. “It doesn’t exist.”
But Georgians must first show up for Trump as he contests the results of the state’s presidential race, he said.
“If [Republicans] want to win these two Senate races, they better stand and fight now because if they don’t, 15% to 20% of those Trump voters in rural areas in Georgia are not coming out for two senators they don’t know,” said Fredericks.
A source close to Trump told the Washington Examiner that Trump would visit before the Jan. 5 runoffs, though the president’s campaign has said not to expect any major action before the results of his own race are finalized.
Not all Georgia Republicans want to continue the fight.
“The fact is, we have to move on past the presidential. And we need the president to rally the troops for the senators,” said one longtime GOP operative in the state. “The debates and continuing fighting over our electoral votes is distracting from the election that is still ongoing: One is done. One is to come. And we’re focused on what is done.”
This source echoed concerns about voters thinking their ballot won’t be counted.
“We don’t want Republicans to think that their votes won’t count, that the system is broken,” he said. “We need unity. And we need the president to help with turnout.”
But Fredericks said the effort underway is “for the good of the country.”
Once all Trump’s legal challenges play out, “if Biden is the legitimate winner, then [Trump] concedes, and we try to back this new President Biden the best way that we can.”
He added, “But right now, court is out in a literal sense.”