Sen. Marco Rubio on Wednesday was the first major outside voice to campaign during the Georgia Senate runoffs on behalf of Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, as the elections that will decide the state’s two Senate seats are less than two months away.
The event Wednesday came as the battle for the Senate majority comes into sharper focus following a race call in Alaska for Sen. Dan Sullivan, a Republican, giving the GOP its 50th Senate seat for the next Congress. That means Republicans only need to win one of the Georgia races to hold the majority come January. Democrats, on the other hand, will need to win both to bring the body to a 50-50 tie, which would give them a de facto majority with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris being able to cast decisive votes.
Rubio, R-Fla., at the event with Loeffler and Perdue’s wife, Bonnie, warned of socialism and rioting and threats to free speech, citing his origins in South Florida where many Cubans who escaped from communist Cuba live.
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“What stands in the way of all of that becoming public policy in America, even half of it becoming public policy in America?” Rubio asked the crowd. “You through your vote in this race.”
Rubio added: “This is literally, you know, the showdown of all showdowns in terms of politics and what it means. And we don’t want to win one of them. We want to win both of them. We need to win both.”
Rubio also praised Loffler and Perdue personally, calling them “great senators” and “patriots” who “represent you well.”
Loeffler picked up on Rubio’s socialism theme when she spoke after the Florida senator.
“The road to socialism does not run through Georgia,” she said, before quoting Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “You may have heard, ‘Now we take Georgia, then we change America’ … Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, you’re not going to take Georgia, it’s ours.”
The Rubio event took place in a crowded hall with attendees standing shoulder-to-shoulder. Many of the people in the room appeared to be visibly wearing masks, though some were not. The campaign for Jon Ossoff, who is running against Perdue, panned the lack of social distancing.
“We’re in the midst of a worsening public health crisis that deserves all of our attention to stop the spread. For the Perdue campaign to hold this indoor event without mandating masks or social distancing is incredibly dangerous,” Ossoff campaign spokesman Jake Best said. “Protecting each other from this virus is not partisan — it’s American. We all need to put politics aside and put public health first.”
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Meanwhile, Ossoff himself held an event on Wednesday morning as well, which was outdoors.
He called the runoff “historic,” in comments that were reported by Politico. He added that “change has come to Georgia, change is coming to America,” mirroring the comments made by Schumer on Saturday after media organizations began calling the presidential race for now-President-elect Joe Biden.
The two runoff elections in Georgia are on Jan. 5, and voters there have until Dec. 7 to register. The state is readying itself for a potentially historic level of campaign spending as both parties blitz the state in a fight over two Senate seats that could decide just how much of his agenda Biden is able to get through in his first two years in office.
Fox News’ Michael Lotito contributed to this report.