President-elect Joe Biden will travel to Georgia next Tuesday to headline a rally in support of the Democratic candidates in the state’s US Senate runoff election, the Biden campaign announced Thursday.
Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are challenging incumbent GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in a pair of races that will determine control of the United States Senate.
Biden’s visit is tied directly to the start of early voting in Georgia. Voters can begin casting ballots in the state next Monday and the Democratic ticket is placing a special emphasis on getting out the early vote. In addition to Biden, the campaigns are also planning a future visit from Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as well as tips from a number of high-profile Democratic surrogates.
The Democratic approach to surrogates has been much different than the Republicans who have been flooding the zone with visits from GOP stars. President Donald Trump made a trip to Valdosta, Georgia, last Saturday and a made promise to return. The GOP ticket has also benefited from Vice President Mike Pence who has already made one trip and will be in Augusta later Thursday.
Trump and Pence join a long list of prominent Republicans who have come to Georgia. Among them, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Sen. Joni Ersnt of Iowa, Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Sen. Bill Hagerty of Tennessee. RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel has also visited the state, along with Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.
Later this week, GOP Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Sen. Steve Daines of Montana and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will tour the state with the group “Club for Growth”.
The intense interest from Republicans across the country demonstrates the stakes for the party beyond Georgia. During her bus tour with Perdue, Ernst told a crowd in Griffin, Georgia, that Republicans across the country were counting on the voters in the state.
“There is more at risk than just two simple seats in the United States Senate. There is a lot at risk right now, in the United States, if we do not hold the United States Senate,” Ernst said.
The GOP cries for protecting control of the Senate come despite Trump’s ill-fated quest to overturn the results of the Presidential election. Control of the Senate only hangs in the balance because when Biden and Harris take office, Harris is in a position to cast a tie-breaking vote as Senate President. Still, in attacking Biden’s planned visit, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien claimed that the President was still fighting to overturn the election result, but also warned that GOP control of the Senate hinges on the results of the Georgia race.
“Joe Biden’s trip to Georgia next week proves that Democrats are taking the Senate runoff elections seriously and so should Republicans,” Stepien said. “Control of the U.S. Senate is at stake and it is imperative that Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are returned to Washington.”
In general, the Ossoff and Warnock campaigns take much greater pains to prevent the spread of coronavirus than their Republican counterparts, which limits the value of surrogates travelling to the state. Surrogates are often used to draw crowds to packed events. It is unclear what precautions will be put in place for the Biden event, but in the past, the Biden campaign has conducted drive-in rallies to facilitate social distancing, while at the same time allowing for a large gathering of supporters.
While the big push for Democratic surrogates isn’t expected until next week, some of the party’s stars have made trips here. Former HUD secretary and former presidential candidate Julian Castro visited this week and appeared with both Ossoff and Warnock. Democrats are also taking advantage of virtual campaign tactics. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Elizabeth Warren both held virtual fundraisers to support the Georgia campaigns. President Barack Obama held a virtual rally with the two candidates. The campaigns say it was watched by more than a half a million people and led to the recruitment of 14,000 volunteers.
The Democrats have also benefited from virtual events with Hollywood celebrities. The casts of the HBO show “Veep” and the movie “Elf” recently held Zoom table readings designed to raise money and interest for the candidates.
CNN’s Donald Judd contributed to this report.