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President Obama joined Georgia Democrats Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock in a virtual rally Friday, underscoring the need for Democratic control of the Senate.
“My first two years were the most productive since Lyndon Johnson,” Obama said. “Once Mitch McConnell was controlling that gavel and controlling the agenda in the Senate, we saw a lot of progress stop."
In 2008, Obama won the presidency and Democrats increased their majorities in the House and Senate. But in 2010, Republicans picked up 63 seats in the House, taking control of the chamber.
“The Senate really matters. When we got to the midterms, it got even worse, a bunch of our folks stopped voting,” the former president explained.
Obama called Georgia the “center of our civic universe, because the special election in Georgia is going to determine ultimately the course of the Biden presidency and whether Joe Biden and Kamala Harris can deliver legislatively all the commitments they made.”
Obama then hit the incumbent Republicans, Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.
“In one of the biggest public health crises, they were, we know, first and foremost worried about their stock portfolio.” Ossoff agreed, calling Loeffler and Perdue “the Bonnie and Clyde of political corruption in America.”
Both Perdue and Loeffler came under fire for stock trades made in their name after senators received coronavirus information in a closed-door Senate briefing. Perdue’s campaign has said the senator did not attend the briefing and the trades were made by a third-party advisor. Loeffler too said she had no part in the trades. Both have been cleared by federal investigations.
Obama said the Republican senators had been “towing the line of a president who botches the response to the pandemic, despite the fact that my administration gave them a playbook on how to deal with a pandemic.”
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Meanwhile, he said that Ossoff and Warnock would be able to work with Republicans who “are a little bit more independent.”
He continued, “Jon and Raphael are big-tent, inclusive people who have can conversations across the aisle.”
The balance of power for the next Senate coming out of last month’s elections is 50 Republicans and 48 Democrats. That means Democrats must win both of Georgia’s runoffs to make it a 50-50 Senate. If that occurs, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would be the tie-breaking vote.
In Georgia, where state law dictates a runoff if no candidate reaches 50% of the vote, GOP Sen. David Perdue narrowly missed avoiding a runoff, winning 49.75% of the vote in the November election. Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff trailed by roughly 87,000 votes.
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Both Ossoff and Warnock predicted Friday the vote would come down to youth turnout. Warnock urged those who will celebrate their 18th birthday between the November and January elections to register to vote. Ossoff’s campaign has said this could add 23,000 teen votes.
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