The one-sided feud between former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence came to Georgia Monday, with Pence stumping for Gov. Brian Kemp and Trump rallying his loyalists to back former U.S. Sen. David Perdue.
In the final day of campaigning in what has been a bruising Republican primary race, Pence urged GOP voters to stick with the incumbent governor. Trump staged a second “tele-rally” of the campaign, encouraging callers to support Perdue.
Seeing Pence and Kemp share a stage at Cobb County International Airport was altogether fitting. Both are at the top of Trump’s enemies list for refusing to help the then-president’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Perdue has centered his campaign to oust Kemp around claims that widespread voter fraud in Georgia robbed Trump of victory – allegations rejected in multiple courts – and that the governor did nothing to stop it.
“[Kemp] allowed the Georgia election to be rigged and stolen,” Trump said during the tele-rally. “Brian Kemp is truly an embarrassment to the Republican Party.”
“The people of Georgia are fed up with career politicians lying to them,” Perdue said earlier Monday during a press conference at a restaurant in Dunwoody.
Neither Kemp nor Pence took the bait. During a news conference ahead of Monday evening’s rally with Pence, the governor said he has never had a bad word for Trump and is not angry with him.
At the rally, Kemp stuck to touting his record over more than three years as governor.
“We have stood up and [taken] the fight to street gangs and street racers, and we’re going to continue to do that as long as I’m your governor,” he said. “We passed the strongest election integrity [legislation] in the country. … We’re the No.-1 state in the country for business.”
Kemp said his decision to reopen Georgia’s economy early in the pandemic was the right move and has paid off.
“We caught unmerciful grief from the national media … and [Democratic gubernatorial candidate] Stacey Abrams, saying we moved too early,” he said. “I wasn’t listening to them. … I was listening to the barbers, cosmetologists, waitresses, and the restaurant owners who said, ‘We can’t go another day, we can’t last another week.’ “
Pence, too, has refrained for the most part from criticizing Trump even as the former president has attacked him for refusing to stop the certification of the Electoral College votes that put Democrat Joe Biden in the White House on Jan. 6, 2021, hours after Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.
On Monday, Pence praised Kemp’s contributions during the final two years of the Trump administration.
“There was no greater champion of the conservative agenda that we advanced with the support of the people of Georgia in Washington D.C.,” Pence told the crowd. “With Governor Kemp’s support and your support … we achieved the lowest unemployment, the highest household income, the most energy production, the most pro-American trade deals, the most secure border, and the strongest military the world has ever known.”
Perdue called for eliminating the state income tax, something he said neither Kemp nor Abrams supports.
He also criticized the $1.5 billion incentives package the state provided electric-vehicle maker Rivian, which announced plans last December to invest $5 billion in a manufacturing plant east of Atlanta that is expected to create up to 7,500 jobs.
“I want to create jobs the right way,” he said.
Perdue said a bill Kemp backed this year to give the Georgia Bureau of Investigation original jurisdiction to investigate voter fraud doesn’t go far enough.
“I want a law enforcement agency dedicated to nothing but election law,” he said.
The polls across Georgia open at 7 a.m. Tuesday. Voters will have until 7 p.m. to cast their ballots.
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.
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