Sunday May 9th, 2021 12:42AM

Republicans press Democratic caricatures in Georgia races

By The Associated Press

MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) — Socialists. Radical extremists. Marxists.

Those over-the-top caricatures of Democrats make up Republicans’ opening arguments as they try to protect Georgia’s two U.S. senators who face strong challenges in Jan. 5 runoffs that'll determine which party controls the chamber at the start of President-elect Joe Biden’s Democratic administration.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio led the charge Wednesday, campaigning in suburban Atlanta alongside Sen. Kelly Loeffler and warning that defeats for her and fellow Georgia Sen. David Perdue would hand over U.S. government to “radical elements.”

Loeffler went so far as to assert, without supporting details, that her Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock has “a Marxist ideology.” Loeffler took no questions after the event that filled the Cobb County Republican Party headquarters with hundreds of enthusiastic voters, many of them not wearing masks as coronavirus cases spike across the country.

Warnock's campaign pushed back, noting the Democrat's policy preferences fall squarely within the U.S. political mainstream. Terrence Clark, a Warnock aide, said Loeffler is trying to “scare Georgians” while “misrepresenting” Warnock's candidacy and obscuring her own record.

It’s a familiar trope for Republicans to blast Democrats, especially in traditionally GOP-leaning states, as “too liberal” or even “socialist.” But the vehemence to open a two-month runoff blitz underscores the national stakes of Georgia’s unusual twin Senate contests and the sharp focus Republicans are putting on energizing core supporters for a second round of voting.

The arguments come as Loeffler, Perdue and other Georgia Republicans continue suggesting the Nov. 3 election — overseen by a Republican secretary of state — was rife with voting irregularities and tabulation errors, assertions made without evidence but that animate a GOP base still loyal to President Donald Trump even after his national defeat.

“Turnout takes care of itself when the presidential race is on the ballot, so it can still boil down to persuasion in the middle,” said Republican consultant Chip Lake, a top adviser on Rep. Doug Collins’ unsuccessful bid against Loeffler.

“In a runoff, it’s no longer about persuasion” Lake continued. “It’s about the bases.”

Collins, now leading Trump’s recount efforts in Georgia, said the goal is to keep Republicans “fired up because they don’t want to see our country turn to a liberal perspective.”

Republican and Democrats are bracing for an unprecedented national-scale campaign in Georgia, a newfound two-party battleground where record turnout of roughly 5 million split almost evenly. Biden leads Trump by about 14,000 votes, but Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced plans Wednesday for an audit with a hand tally of ballots before certifying the results.

Perdue, a staunch Trump ally first elected in 2014, led Democrat Jon Ossoff but fell short of the majority Georgia law requires for victory. Loeffler, appointed after Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson announced his retirement last year, trailed Warnock in an all-party primary to finish out the final two years of a six-year term.

The Associated Press has called runoffs in both contests but hasn't called Georgia’s 16 presidential electoral votes.

Nationally, Republicans have secured 50 Senate seats to Democrats’ 48. Still, the GOP needs at least one of the Georgia seats to command a majority in January. In a 50-50 Senate, Democrats would have the tie-breaking vote in Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

Rubio and Loeffler warned of dire consequences, even as Rubio implicitly conceded the hyperbole.

“To be fair, not all Democrats are socialists,” Rubio said. “But all socialists are Democrats.”

Rubio alluded to failed presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, an independent who calls himself a democratic socialist and caucuses with Senate Democrats. Rubio nodded to progressive calls to “defund the police” and Democrats who support policies like “Medicare for All” single-payer health insurance or tuition-free public college nationwide.

“All the energy” and “all the money” in the Democratic Party, Rubio insisted, come from such forces. Rubio didn't mention Biden, who won the nomination and presidency as an establishment figure promising bipartisanship and compromise.

Biden often noted as he campaigned that he defeated Sanders and other more liberal candidates for the nomination. “He thinks he’s running against someone else,” Biden quipped at Trump during an Oct. 22 debate when the president sought to label his challenger a socialist.

Biden, for example, supports adding a “public option” government health care plan to existing insurance markets, but without ending private insurance. He backs significant public spending on green energy but opposes progressives’ push for quickly phasing out fossil fuels.

Warnock and Ossoff have largely aligned behind Biden’s agenda, especially on a public option.

Clark, Warnock's spokesman, noted that Loeffler backs GOP efforts to roll back the 2010 Affordable Care Act that bars insurers from discriminating against customers based on their health history. He also saddled her with the GOP-run Senate's failure to pass another coronavirus economic aid package as millions of Americans face the loss of jobless benefits, foreclosures and evictions.

Republicans nonetheless are doubling down after GOP Senate incumbents defeated well-financed challengers in more conservative states such as Iowa, Texas and Montana, while Republican challengers knocked off several House Democrats who’d won moderate districts in 2018. Their bet is that Georgia, long a GOP stronghold before Biden’s performance in the presidential race, follows the same path.


Associated Press reporters Jeff Amy and Ben Nadler contributed from Atlanta.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Election News, General Presidential Election News, General Senate Election News, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Online Headlines - Georgia News, AP Elections - Political Conventions, AP Elections - Campaigns
© Copyright 2021
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Cleveland's Bieber, Cincinnati's Bauer win Cy Young Awards
Cleveland Indians ace Shane Bieber is the unanimous winner of the AL Cy Young Award
9:26PM ( 1 hour ago )
Stroman, Gausman take $18.9M; Springer, LeMahieu reject
New York Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman and San Francisco starter Kevin Gausman have accepted $18.9 million qualifying offers and gotten one-year deals to stay with their teams rather than test what they could get in free agency
9:11PM ( 1 hour ago )
Typhoon-ravaged northeast Philippines pummeled by new storm
A typhoon has swelled rivers and flooded low-lying areas as it passed over the storm-battered northeast Philippines, where rescuers were deployed to help people flee the rising waters
9:09PM ( 1 hour ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Hong Kong's pro-democracy lawmakers to resign en masse
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmakers say they will resign en masse after four of them were ousted from the semiautonomous Chinese territory’s Legislature
8:07PM ( 2 hours ago )
Biden moves forward without help from Trump's intel team
President-elect Joe Biden says he’s not worried that President Donald Trump has broken with tradition by not letting him read the ultra-secret daily brief containing the nation’s most sensitive intelligence before inauguration
8:02PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP source: Biden chooses Ron Klain as chief of staff
Joe Biden has chosen his longtime adviser Ron Klain to reprise his role as his chief of staff
7:57PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Biden's agenda at stake, battle for Senate pushes to January
Control of the Senate won’t be decided until the new year, even as Republicans have won seats in Alaska and North Carolina
5:18PM ( 5 hours ago )
The Latest: Republican Tillis keeps N. Carolina Senate seat
North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis has won reelection to the Senate, defeating Democrat Cal Cunningham after a hard-fought campaign and days of counting ballots
5:07PM ( 5 hours ago )
Republican Dan Sullivan re-elected in Alaska Senate race
U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan has been re-elected to the U.S. Senate
3:02PM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
EXPLAINER: Trump's challenges fail to prove election fraud
A barrage of lawsuits and investigations led by President Donald Trump’s campaign and allies has not come close to proving a multi-state failure that would call into question his loss to President-elect Joe Biden
4:18PM ( 6 hours ago )
Harris' husband, Doug Emhoff, poised to break stereotypes
The husband of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Doug Emhoff, plans to leave his private law practice by Inauguration Day to focus on White House duties
3:40PM ( 7 hours ago )
Money to support Trump court fight could flow to president
President Donald Trump’s campaign has been blasting out emails and text messages to supporters, raising money for an “election defense fund” to contest the outcome of last week's election
2:26PM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Elections
Analysis: GOP lets doubts about Biden's legitimacy flourish
Republicans are largely standing with President Donald Trump as he launches false attacks on the integrity of the 2020 election
8:28AM ( 14 hours ago )
GOP presses ahead after election with Russia probe review
President Donald Trump may have lost his bid for reelection, but that hasn’t stopped Senate Republicans from pressing forward with their politically charged probe of the FBI’s Russia investigation
7:44AM ( 15 hours ago )
Dems clinch House control, but majority likely to shrink
Democrats have clinched two more years of controlling the House
7:08AM ( 15 hours ago )
General Election News
Trump to emerge from White House to mark Veterans Day
President Donald Trump will participate in the Veterans Day observance at Arlington National Ceremony on Wednesday
8:21AM ( 14 hours ago )
GOP lets Trump fight election for weeks despite Biden's win
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says there’s “no reason for alarm” as President Donald Trump pursues unfounded legal challenges to President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory
5:49PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: Lincoln Project taking on Trump-linked law firms
The Lincoln Project has announced plans to launch an advertising campaign against two law firms over their role representing President Donald Trump and the Republican Party in their voter fraud-related lawsuits
5:46PM ( 1 day ago )
General Presidential Election News
Twin Senate runoffs in Georgia could shape Biden presidency
The outcome in several contested states will determine whether Joe Biden defeats President Donald Trump
10:50PM ( 5 days ago )
Senate control hangs in balance with a few races undecided
It's two days after Election Day and control of the Senate is still hanging in the balance with a few races still undecided
3:26PM ( 6 days ago )
In South, most Black Senate candidates since Reconstruction
In the battle for control of the U.S. Senate this year, the Deep South is fielding more Black candidates than it has since Reconstruction
2:42PM ( 6 days ago )
General Senate Election News
Eta remains a tropical storm as Florida prepares for 2nd hit
Eta has remained a tropical storm as it prepares to skirt past the heavily populated Tampa Bay region in Florida
8:03PM ( 2 hours ago )
SEC has a new look in 2020 with rise of Aggies and Gators
The Southeastern Conference has a new look this season
6:30PM ( 4 hours ago )
Column: A Masters unlike any other — and one we didn't need
There will be no raucous roars at this year's Masters, one of many ways in which this annual tradition will feel more like a nondescript college tournament
6:09PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online - Georgia News
AP Online Headlines - Georgia News
Republican wins back US House seat in Southern California
Republican Michelle Steel has defeated first-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Harley Rouda in a Southern California district
2:45PM ( 1 day ago )
Candidate concessions have been colorful, funny — or absent
Losing presidential candidates have conceded to their opponents in private chats, telegrams, phone calls and nationally televised speeches
12:08AM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: International observers see no fraud in US vote
International observers from the Organization of American States say they saw no instances of fraud or voting irregularities in the U.S. presidential election
9:12PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Elections - Political Conventions
Trump faces long odds in challenging state vote counts
Republican surrogates for President Donald Trump have resumed their legal fight to try to stop the vote count in key battleground states, including Pennsylvania and Michigan
8:28PM ( 2 days ago )
Trump election party draws scrutiny as guests test positive
At least three top Trump administration or campaign officials have tested positive for COVID-19 after attending an election night watch party in the White House East Room
7:39PM ( 2 days ago )
The Latest: Biden plans speech defending Affordable Care Act
President-elect Joe Biden is planning to deliver a speech defending the Obama administration’s signature health care law amid a case before the Supreme Court that could overturn it
7:15PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Elections - Campaigns
Heart condition forces Penn St. RB Brown to give up football
Penn State running back Journey Brown says he has a heart condition that is forcing him to give up football
10:20PM ( 36 minutes ago )
Cleveland's Bieber, Cincinnati's Bauer win Cy Young Awards
Cleveland Indians ace Shane Bieber is the unanimous winner of the AL Cy Young Award
9:26PM ( 1 hour ago )
Stroman, Gausman take $18.9M; Springer, LeMahieu reject
New York Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman and San Francisco starter Kevin Gausman have accepted $18.9 million qualifying offers and gotten one-year deals to stay with their teams rather than test what they could get in free agency
9:11PM ( 1 hour ago )
Typhoon-ravaged northeast Philippines pummeled by new storm
A typhoon has swelled rivers and flooded low-lying areas as it passed over the storm-battered northeast Philippines, where rescuers were deployed to help people flee the rising waters
9:09PM ( 1 hour ago )
Peru ouster throws nation's anti-corruption drive into doubt
When Peru’s legislature voted President Martín Vizcarra from office this week, they may have done more than just oust a popular leader — they likely put the country’s best chance at making a dent on endemic corruption on hold
9:03PM ( 1 hour ago )