WARM SPRINGS — Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden rallied in Warm Springs, Ga., Tuesday to deliver a speech focused on unity and healing with one week left before the general election on Nov. 3.
Biden’s appearance at the retreat of former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt highlighted Georgia’s growing importance as a potential swing state after years of firm Republican control and high hopes among local Democratic leaders for flipping state legislative, congressional and U.S. Senate seats.
In a roughly 20-minute speech, the former vice president invoked Warm Springs as a place of healing for the polio-stricken Roosevelt, likening it to the symbolic healing Biden said his campaign offers in contrast to the often chaotic administration of President Donald Trump and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This place, Warm Springs, is a reminder that though broken, each of us can be healed,” Biden said. “That as a people and a country, we can overcome this devastating virus, that we can heal a suffering world and, yes, we can restore our soul and save our country.”
Recent polls have shown Biden and Trump neck-and-neck in the fight for Georgia’s 16 electoral votes, which have not gone to a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992.
Biden has sought to emphasize Trump’s response to coronavirus as evidence of the president’s being unfit for office and out of step with average Americans. Trump has largely stuck with questioning Biden’s physical health and likening his policies to socialism.
Georgia Democrats are banking on changing demographics and voting patterns, particularly in the Atlanta suburbs, to help flip the presidency, a congressional seat and control of the state House of Representatives in their favor.
Trump’s campaign and state Republican leaders are not sweating Biden’s late-race appearance in Georgia despite Trump’s narrow margin of victory in the 2016 election and strengthening support for Democrats Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock, who are competing for the state’s two U.S. Senate seats.
The president’s campaign was quick to note its field organizers have fanned out across the state and reached millions of people via mailers and phone calls.
“After ignoring Georgia for months, a last-minute visit from Biden won’t make a dent in the advantage we’ve built thanks to our field army and frequent visits from President Trump and his family,” said Savannah Viar, a Trump campaign spokeswoman.
The president as well as his son, Donald Trump Jr., and daughter, Ivanka Trump, have made several stops in Georgia in recent months. Tuesday’s speech in Warm Springs was Biden’s first visit to Georgia since winning his party’s nomination.
Biden was also scheduled to hold a get-out-the-vote rally in Atlanta Tuesday evening. His visit came on the heels of a campaign stop last week by his running mate, Kamala Harris.
While Biden spoke in Warm Springs, Ossoff and Warnock joined forces as they have done frequently in recent months to hold a rally in Jonesboro.
Trump supporters including Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp also rallied in Manchester, Ga., just outside Warm Springs. Warnock’s opponents, U.S. Kelly Loeffler and U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, were scheduled Tuesday and throughout this week for campaign events elsewhere in the state.
The three-week early voting period, which has already drawn more than 3 million votes in Georgia along with absentee ballots, is set to last through Friday.
Photo: Democratic presidential nominee and former vice president Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop in Warm Springs, Ga., on Oct. 27, 2020. (Biden campaign video)