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President Trump rips Georgia governor at Valdosta rally

President Donald Trump campaigns in Valdosta for Georgia Senators David Perdue and Kelly...
President Donald Trump campaigns in Valdosta for Georgia Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler ahead of the upcoming runoff election.(WCTV)
Published: Dec. 4, 2020 at 1:52 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 5, 2020 at 6:29 PM CST
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (AP/WCTV) - President Donald Trump ripped Republican Gov. Brian Kemp at a rally for the state’s two Republican senators, hours after the governor refused a direct entreaty from the president to intervene to overturn Trump’s loss in the state.

As the large crowd at Valdosta Regional Airport chanted “Stop the Steal”-- what’s become a rallying cry for Republicans unwilling to accept Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in last month’s presidential election-- Trump responded that “Your governor could stop it very easily if he knew what the hell he was doing.”

Hours before the Valdosta rally, Trump asked Kemp in the phone call to order the legislative session to subvert the election results, but the governor refused, according to a senior government official in Georgia with knowledge of the call who was not authorized to discuss the private conversation. A person close to the White House who was briefed on the matter verified that account of the call.

According to a tweet from Kemp, Trump also asked him to order an audit of signatures on absentee ballot envelopes in his state, a step Kemp is not empowered to take because he has no authority to interfere in the electoral process on Trump’s behalf.

Hundreds of supporters filled the rally, President Trump’s first major event and speech since the Nov. 3 election.

Georgia’s U.S. Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler both face runoffs on January 5. Democrat Jon Ossoff is challenging Perdue. Loeffler faces democrat Raphael Warnock. If Democrats take both seats, the party would take control of the U.S. Senate.

VALDOSTA, Ga. (AP) President Donald Trump kicked off his Saturday night rally in Georgia for Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue by recycling the falsehood that he won the state.

“You know we won Georgia, just so you understand,” Trump told the large crowd gathered for the first post-election rally for the president.

In fact, President-elect Joe Biden won the state of Georgia by about 12,500 votes out of 5 million cast.

Trump said that he traveled to Georgia to help “ensure” the two Republicans win what are probably the most important Senate runoffs in U.S. history.

First Lady Melania Trump kicked off the rally by telling Georgians that it’s more important than ever “that you exercise your rights as a citizen and vote.”

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) — Valdosta is making its final preparations as the city gets ready to welcome President Donald Trump, who will hold a campaign event Saturday night.

The president is scheduled to appear at the Valdosta Regional Airport at 7 p.m., where he will campaign for Georgia Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler ahead of the upcoming runoff election.

Valdosta Mayor Scott Matheson says the city is proud to receive President Trump. According to Matheson, Trump is the first sitting president to visit Valdosta since President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

“There’s a lot of excitement,” Matheson says. “Politics aside, it’s a historic day.”

The residents WCTV spoke to Friday say they are glad to see their hometown in the spotlight.

Matheson says he hopes the more than 15,000 attendees will bring a boost to the city’s revenue.

“They don’t just show up, do a rally and leave,” he says. “We are hoping they get a meal before leaving town, obviously get some gas before leaving town. I mean, what a boom.”

One store owner hopes the rally results in extra foot traffic.

“It’s excitement for sure,” says Christy Rice, the owner of Anastasias. “This is a once in a lifetime event.”

The airport and federal and local agencies have been planning and setting up for the event since Tuesday.

“Pretty complex issue, a lot of security has to be looked over and over again,” Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk says. “And it’s a constantly changing picture until you get something you are comfortable with.”

Officials say the task takes lots of manpower and logistics, which is complicated by the City Christmas parade which is happening just an hour before the president’s speech. However, the city of Valdosta and Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office say they have the manpower needed to keep the rally and Christmas parade secure.

Some residents say they have concerns with large crowds.

“I don’t think it’s great for COVID and especially in the South, not many people wear their masks, so as long as people keep their masks on and keep social distanced, we should be okay,” Valdosta resident Ashleigh Hackler says.

One rallygoer all the way from Tennessee doesn’t share Hackler’s sentiment.

“I don’t have any concerns,” Sharon Anderson says. “I don’t plan to wear a mask. I haven’t worn a mask, and I have not been sick.”

CDC protocols and guidelines will be in place Saturday, according to press releases. Some other Valdosta residents say regardless of what political party they identify with, a president in your own backyard is a historic day.

“You know the world is kind of in an uproar, and maybe this will bring our town together,” Rice says. “I mean this is a special event, it doesn’t matter if you are Democrat or Republican, it’s still the president coming to our city. And we are proud, we are proud of Valdosta.”

Gates for the event open at 3 p.m. Saturday, with an expected start time of 7 p.m. You can find tickets at this link.

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