CNN  — 

Since coming to the Senate in January, Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler has been the single biggest supporter of President Donald Trump’s agenda. But even she knows the jig is up when it comes to his ongoing attempts to contest an election that he quite clearly lost.

Witness Loeffler’s answers about Trump and the Senate majority in her debate Sunday night against Democrat Raphael Warnock in advance of their January 5 runoff.

Throughout the debate, when questioned about Trump’s continued insistence that the election was “rigged” (he provides no proof), Loeffler said that “the President has the right to pursue every legal recourse to make sure that this was a free and fair election in Georgia.”

But toward the end of the hour, Loeffler got herself into a rhetorical bind. Asked whether Trump’s continued attacks on Republican Gov. Brian Kemp and Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger about the validity of the presidential election and whether she worried it might have an effect on the runoff, Loeffler said this (bolding is mine):

“The buck stops with the Secretary of State. He has to run an election that Georgians trust because everything is at stake on January 5, the future of the country. We can take the path of supporting the American dream, of standing the economy back up and getting through this virus together.”

Russ Spencer, the moderator of the debate, pressed Loeffler on that point. Which prompted this back-and-forth;

Spencer: “Well, if everything is at stake on January 5, that would presume that President Trump has lost. Is that what you’re saying?”

Loeffler: “You know, what’s at stake is the Senate majority. This will determine who brings bills to the Senate floor, and under the Republican Senate, we’ve been able to deliver $3 trillion of relief to hardworking Americans hard hit by this pandemic, to the frontline workers, to hospitals, to schools. We have to continue to make sure that we open up our economy.

“The Democrats want to keep this lockdown. They want to radically change our country, and their agent of change is radical liberal Raphael Warnock, someone that has said to reimagine police that is endorsed by organizations whose number one goal is to defund the police.

“We know the direction the country would take, and we’re going to continue to make sure that Georgians understand that our very way of life here in Georgia and across the country is under attack by the left.”

Spencer: “Well, not to belabor the point, but all those things that you’re warning about would not be happening, presumably with President Trump as President. So it almost sounds as though you’re conceding that that part of it has been settled. And now it’s important for the Republicans to keep the majority in the Senate to have a divided government.”

Loeffler: Well, I saw firsthand that the Senate is the shock absorber in this country. And I saw that firsthand when I got to Washington, and the impeachment trial started.”

Loeffler’s responses above show that she knows she’s been caught. Because she can’t argue these two things simultaneously:

1) A Republican Senate majority is the only thing keeping Democrats from defunding the police and beginning the march toward socialism.


2) Donald Trump actually won the election and is going to be in office for four more years.

It’s an either/or proposition. If Trump actually did win, then a Republican Senate majority would be a luxury for him – sure – but it wouldn’t be a necessity. It wouldn’t be the last blockade against Democrats’ radical agenda.

Loeffler is trying to have it both ways here. She is terrified of alienating even a single one of Trump’s most loyal supporters in the state – believing she needs them to win – by admitting what everyone knows: that he lost and Joe Biden won. At the same time, she is trying to drive home the urgency and the stakes of her runoff race by making clear that if Warnock wins, Democrats will have free rein to fundamentally alter the country.

It’s entirely illogical. And it’s rooted in what so much of Republicans’ current illogic is grounded in: An unwillingness to acknowledge that Trump lost because he and his most loyal supporters are, without any facts to back them up, continuing to argue that he didn’t lose. That makes Loeffler’s argument – this race will decide the future of the country for the next two years – impossible.

Which even Loeffler appears to have realized – if for only a moment – on Sunday night.