Harris hits campaign trail with Ossoff and Warnock in Georgia

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris hit the campaign trail in Georgia with Democratic Senate hopefuls Reverend Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff Monday. The trip marked her first visit to the Peach State after she and President-elect Joe Biden won Georgia, the first time a Democratic ticket has won Georgia since 1992.

Around 100 vehicles attended a drive-in rally in Columbus, where Harris stressed how important it is for both Warnock and Ossoff to win Georgia’s January 5 runoff election. Their victories are “within your hands,” she said.

“Everything is at stake when it comes to the need to elect Reverend Raphael Warnock, to elect Jon Ossoff.” Harris said. “Everything that was at stake in November is at stake leading up to January 5.”

This race is about as high-stakes as runoff elections can be, since the outcome will determine which party controls the Senate at the start of Biden administration. Democrats need to win both seats to obtain a simple majority, which would give Harris, the president of the Senate, the ability to break any ties. The races have now seen President Trump, Vice President Pence, Mr. Biden and now Harris making the trip to Georgia to help fight for the seats.

Harris had originally planned two stops in the state Monday, but had to adjust her schedule to head back to Washington, D.C. and vote on the COVID-19 bill.

So far, the Biden campaign has spent more than $5 million on the Georgia runoffs and is keeping around 50 staffers on its payroll to work on outreach and voter contact, particularly in metro Atlanta and other parts of the state where Biden over-performed compared to Democrats in previous election years. Columbus is located in Muscogee County, a county Biden won easily in November 61.4% to Mr. Trump’s 37.4%. Black people make up the largest ethnic group in Columbus — 45.2% of the city’s population.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (L) speaks as Georgia Democrat candidates Reverend Raphael Warnock, (C), and Jon Ossoff (R) participate in a Senate runoff election drive-in campaign rally in Columbus, Georgia 12/21/20.

TAMI CHAPPELL/AFP via Getty Images

Reverend Warnock, the pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, faces Republican incumbent Senator Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed to the Senate in December 2019. Ossoff, a documentary filmmaker, faces Republican incumbent Senator David Perdue.

Both Warnock and Ossoff took jabs at their Republican opponents during their remarks.

“We’re running against, like the Bonnie and Clyde of corruption in American politics.” Ossoff said. “Two United States senators more concerned with their offices to line their own pockets than looking out for ‘we the people’ who pay their salaries.”

“I’m trying to have a substantive debate about the people of Georgia and my opponent is trying to reduce this race to the kind of empty schoolyard insults made between children who aren’t thinking very carefully on the playground.” Warnock said of Loeffler. “This is serious business and she’s busy calling me names.”

Turnout for these runoffs seems poised to be high — so far, nearly 1.5 million have cast early ballots, according to the U.S. Elections Project. Democrats are optimistic about the participation of Black voters, who make up 32% of early voters so far.

But Republicans can be heartened by the high percentage of older voters who have cast their ballots at this point: people over 55 years of age have cast 900,000 of the votes, and in the general election, a majority of older voters voted Republican.

The Democratic Senate candidates face an uphill battle in that in November, Joe Biden won more votes than they did, while on the Republican side, the Senate candidates attracted more support than President Trump did.

Kabir Khanna contributed to this report.

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