Pence seeks to reassure Georgia voters amid Trump attacks

Pence seeks to reassure Georgia voters amid Trump attacks
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Vice President Pence on Thursday sought to reassure skeptical Georgia voters that it was safe to cast a ballot in the state's upcoming Senate runoff elections, seeking to send the message to conservatives to vote as President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer New York state Senate candidate charged in riot Trump called acting attorney general almost daily to push election voter fraud claim: report GOP senator clashes with radio caller who wants identity of cop who shot Babbitt MORE has sown doubts about the results of the presidential election. 

Pence made his visit to Georgia for the fourth time in recent weeks, explicitly urging voters to take advantage of early voting options, including voting by mail. He read off address of an early voting site in Columbus, noting it’s “right across from the Wal-Mart and a Pizza Hut.”

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The vice president has largely taken on the role as chief surrogate for boosting Sens. David PerdueDavid PerdueLoeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run Georgia agriculture commissioner launches Senate campaign against Warnock Georgia Republican secretary of state hits Loeffler as 'weak,' 'fake Trumper' MORE (R-Ga.) and Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) in their January runoff elections, which will determine control of the upper chamber in the next Congress.

At no point did Pence explicitly acknowledge that President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBriahna Joy Gray: White House thinks extending student loan pause is a 'bad look' Biden to meet with 11 Democratic lawmakers on DACA: report Former New York state Senate candidate charged in riot MORE would be in the White House come January. Instead, Pence argued that ongoing challenges by Trump and his legal team to the presidential outcome should not prevent supporters from voting in the Senate runoffs.

"We can fight for our president, and we can fight for more Republicans in the United States Senate at the same time," Pence said. "We’ve been doing both and we’re going to keep doing both, and we’re going to keep making America great again."

The closest Pence came to laying out the stakes of the race came when he referenced Biden's visit to Atlanta to support Democratic Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock.

"I saw Joe Biden was in Atlanta just the other day. He said that we didn’t need to send Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerSchumer, Tim Scott lead as Senate fundraising pace heats up Trump says Herschel Walker will enter Georgia Senate race WNBA announces zero COVID-19 positive tests, 99 percent fully vaccinated MORE and David Perdue back to Washington because he said we don’t need two senators that are 'just going to get in the way,' " Pence said.

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"Well Georgia, that’s exactly what we need in the United States Senate," he continued. "We need David Perdue to get in the way of higher taxes. We need David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler to get in the way of open borders, socialized medicine, a green new deal or packing the courts."

Trump has been absent from the trail save for one rally he held in Valdosta earlier this month. Trump has otherwise weighed in on the Georgia race mostly to excoriate Gov. Brian KempBrian KempSavannah becomes first major city in Georgia to reinstate masks On The Money: Senate braces for nasty debt ceiling fight | Democrats pushing for changes to bipartisan deal | Housing prices hit new high in June Businesses contribute thousands to backers of Georgia election law after condemning it MORE (R) and suggest the state's voting system is untrustworthy.

"What a fool Governor @BrianKempGA of Georgia is. Could have been so easy, but now we have to do it the hard way," Trump tweeted Monday. "Demand this clown call a Special Session and open up signature verification, NOW. Otherwise, could be a bad day for two GREAT Senators on January 5th."

Those comments have raised some concerns in GOP circles that Republicans might not turn out to vote in the Georgia contests because they do not trust the election system.

Those fears were exacerbated with Trump allies Sidney Powell and Lin Wood suggested last month that Republicans in Georgia should sit out the Senate runoffs, citing allegations of fraud in the presidential election. But the Trump campaign's litigation in the Peach State was dismissed, and they have not presented evidence of fraud in court.

Pence worked to smooth over concerns among voters Thursday, insisting Republicans would be on the lookout for potential irregularities.

"You request a ballot, we’re on them this time. We’re watching," Pence said. "We’re going to secure our polls, secure our drop boxes, and you can be confident you mail in that absentee ballot, every single one of them will be confident."

The Senate that will convene in January currently sits at 50 Republicans and 46 Democrats, plus two Independents who align with the Democratic caucus. Should Democrats Ossoff and Warnock win next month's runoff elections in Georgia, the chamber would be split 50-50 and Vice President-elect Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisWhy in the world are White House reporters being told to mask up again? Want to improve vaccine rates? Ask for this endorsement Biden celebrates anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act MORE would serve as the tie-breaking vote.

 Pence campaigned Thursday in Columbus and Macon. He previously made stops in Canton, Savannah and Augusta. A White House official said plans are being discussed for Pence to return to Georgia again before the Jan. 5 election.