ATLANTA — The Georgia Senate runoffs will draw firepower from the highest levels of politics on Monday with visits by President Trump and President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., underscoring the urgency of an election to determine control of the Senate and held in the shadow of Mr. Trump’s persistent attacks on Republican state officials over his baseless claims of voter fraud.
Mr. Trump is scheduled to hold a rally in the northwest city of Dalton, where he is expected to encourage his supporters to go to the polls on Tuesday in support of the two incumbent Republicans in the races, Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. Northwest Georgia is a crucial base of Republican support, but turnout in early voting has been disappointing in many counties there.
Mr. Trump upended the final weekend of campaigning in Georgia with an hourlong call to its secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, on Saturday, in which the president embraced conspiracy theories and demanded that state election officials “find” him the votes that would give him Georgia’s 16 electoral votes from November’s presidential election.
The conversation with Mr. Raffensperger, which was recorded, could further damage Republican hopes for winning the races — races that will determine which party controls the Senate. Some Republicans were already worried that Mr. Trump’s focus on his own electoral loss — and his incessant and baseless argument that the loss was because of electoral fraud — is being taken literally by his supporters, who could end up staying home rather than voting in what they believe to be a “rigged” electoral system.
In an interview on Fox News late Sunday, Mr. Perdue said he did not think that Mr. Trump’s call would have an impact on the election, but said he was shocked that a fellow Republican would “tape a sitting president and then leak that.” Mr. Perdue had called for Mr. Raffensperger’s resignation in November.
Mr. Raffensperger, a Republican, has maintained that Georgia’s results from the November race are valid — a point he made personally to Mr. Trump during the phone call Saturday and in subsequent interviews.
“For the last two months, we’ve been fighting the rumor whack-a-mole,” Mr. Raffensperger said Monday on Good Morning America. “And it was pretty obvious very early on that we’ve debunked every one of those theories that have been out there, but that President Trump continues to believe them.” He added, “The data that he has is just plain wrong.”
Before his travel to Georgia, Mr. Trump’s daily guidance to reporters about his schedule said he would “work from early in the morning until late in the evening. He will make many calls and have many meetings.” Typically his schedule gives logistical details about specific meetings, not generalities about his day.
Mr. Biden will travel to Atlanta on Monday to campaign for the Democratic Senate candidates, Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock. It is likely that Mr. Biden will bring up the president’s phone call with Mr. Raffensperger at his rally in the Atlanta area on Monday.
Vice President Mike Pence is also scheduled to be in the state, with a visit to Rock Springs Church in Milner. The church’s pastor is a close friend and spiritual mentor to Mr. Perdue, who has been quarantining in recent days after his possible exposure to the coronavirus.
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