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Tag: brian kemp

Tweaking Trump, Pence Will Campaign With Kemp In Georgia

In a scathing rebuke to his former partner at the White House, former Vice President Mike Pence has announced plans to campaign with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp on the eve of Georgia’s May 24 Republican primary.

Pence will headline Kemp’s election eve rally in defiance of former President Trump, who has repeatedly assailed the state governor for refusing to partake in a collective Trumpworld effort to subvert and overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia.

Pence called Kemp “one of the most successful conservative governors in America” in a statement and on Twitter.

"Brian Kemp is my friend, a man dedicated to faith, family and the people of Georgia,” Pence stated. “I am proud to offer my full support for four more years of Brian Kemp as governor of the great state of Georgia.”

The endorsement, as US News put it, is the “ political equivalent of a raised middle finger” at Trump, who attacked the former VP repeatedly for certifying the results of the 2020 elections despite numerous calls from Trump and delusional far-right elements in his circle to overturn the elections.

"Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution," Trump said in a tweet on January 6, 2021, shortly after Pence refused to overturn the election results and right as a pro-Trump mob was breaching the sacred halls of Congress.

Two months later, in an exclusive interview, Trump defended the rioters who called for Pence’s hanging. “No, I thought he was well-protected, and I had heard that he was in good shape … because, uh, I heard he was in very good shape,” he said.

In February, Pence refuted Trump, saying the former president was “wrong” in alleging that then-Vice President Pence had the sole power to overturn the 2020 election results.

A month after that, Pence came swinging again — this time, at Trump and the Russia-loving arm of the Republican party. “There is no room in this party for apologists for Putin,” Pence said at a Republican National Committee retreat.

Prominent Republicans have endorsed candidates who Trump opposes, but Pence, who might be the most prominent of the group, has shown his willingness to buck the former president and his political ambitions.

Still angered by the stinging loss to the then-Democrat candidate for president Joe Biden, Trump has doled endorsements to his loyalists and attacked those who refused to parrot the Big Lie.

Trump has campaigned, raised money, and ran TV attack ads for Kemp’s opponent, former Senator David Perdue, who has long since pledged allegiance to Trump and his false claims of widespread voter fraud.

However, Kemp remains the strong favorite in polls, leading Perdue by an average of 22.3 percentage points in the hotly-contested primary. Leading GOP members are confident Kemp will win 50 percent of the vote to bypass a run-off with Perdue, per Politico.

Despite commanding the increasingly vocal MAGA wing of the GOP, Trump has endorsed some candidates who eventually failed to win their primaries. Last week Charles Herbster, the GOP candidate Trump endorsed in Nebraska’s governorship race, lost to a candidate endorsed by the state’s governor.

Battlecry Of Republican Primary Rumbles: 'You're Soft On China!'

With most conservative candidates in primary races across the country pledging allegiance to former President Trump and disseminating his Big Lie, what is a Republican candidate to do to get ahead? Why, just accuse their Republican opponent of having ties to China, of course!

Spurious, misleading, and even exaggerated accusations of connections with China are a source of anxiety for Republicans in the 2022 races, while campaign strategists and candidates have labeled such allegations a “prime attack in a Republican primary,” according to the Washington Post.

Incumbent Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp — who is running against four other candidates in the Peach State primary, chief among them former Senator David Perdue — ran a TV spot accusing hisTrump-backed rival Perdue of outsourcing jobs to China before becoming a senator.

"Millionaire David Perdue got rich sending jobs to China," the narrator in Kemp’s ad claimed. The ad used a clip of Perdue in his days before the Senate, when he said, "I lived over there. I’ve been dealing with China for over 30 years," and another clip from a Georgia Public Broadcasting interview where Perdue claimed, “We outsourced every single product that we sold in our stores."

Kemp’s communications director touted the effectiveness of the China ad in a statement to the Post. “We tested a number of hits, and that was the best-polling one — the outsourcing to China.” Tying Perdue to China has become central to the incumbent governor’s paid advertising and messaging.

Invoking China is a crucial strategy in the Pennsylvania primary, too. Candidate Mehmet Oz, whom Trump is backing, has accused opponent David McCormick of carrying out business deals with China. McCormick struck back, as one would expect, alleging that Oz made bank from dealings with Chinese state TV and patronized products made in China.

In a blistering attack last Friday night, Trump accused McCormick of being a “liberal Wall Street Republican” who has managed money for China. “I don’t know David well, and he may be a nice guy, but he’s not MAGA,” the former president added.

A pollster who has worked for Trump and is polling in many 2022 primaries told the Post that tough talk on US-China relations, even far-fetched claims, is all the rage in this year’s Republican primary debates because that’s what Republican voters want to hear.

“If you coddle China, or you are soft on China, that makes you not so much America first and not so tough,” pollster Tony Fabrizio said. “Being tagged as soft on China is not a good thing. Trump focused and catalyzed some of it. But China has been seen as the primary world foe for at least the last decade or more.”

Fabrizio also spoke of a poll he conducted earlier this year which showed that Republicans consider China a bigger threat to national security than Russia, even after Russia’s missile bombardment of Ukraine has claimed thousands of civilian lives.

Two years of battling the Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with Trump’s litany of anti-China messaging, has increased the Republican voters' negative perception of China. In March, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs conducted a poll that found that 75 percent of Republicans considered Beijing’s development a “critical threat” to the interests of the United States of America, up from 67 percent in 2020 and 42 percent in 2018, according to the Washington Post.

Last year, Trump’s team ran a poll to ascertain the former president’s most effective messages and found that the former president’s supporters love his attacks on China.

An informal adviser for Trump, Michael Pillsbury, weighed in on this seismic perception shift. “It is something quite new — Republicans used to be the business of party and free trade,” Pillsbury told the Washington Post. “And I remember during the early considerations of President Trump — putting heavy tariffs on China — there were voices within the White House and within the party that this goes against Republican traditions.”

“The current mood toward China,” Pillsbury added, “is darker than it has been in decades in the United States.”

Meadows Text Messages Reveal Details Of Trump's Georgia Scheming

Text messages obtained from Mark Meadows, a former White House chief of staff, are once again shedding light on the Trump campaign’s efforts to overturn the 2020 elections.

This time the spotlight is on Georgia, where former President Donald Trump tried to subvert the election by pressuring the secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, in a now-infamous phone call, to “find” enough votes to overturn Joe Biden’s eventual victory after the former president’s narrow three-day lead.

On January 2, 2021, three days after calling for Georgia governor Brian Kemp’s resignation, Trump hopped on an hour-long call with Raffensperger and claimed — falsely, of course — that it was “pretty clear” he had “won” Georgia, weeks after the state’s top officials defied death threats to officially certify Biden as the winner of the state’s electoral votes.

As Trump urged Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have [to get],” Jordan Fuchs, Georgia's deputy secretary of state, pleaded with Meadows to end the call.

"Need to end this call," Fuchs told Meadows. "I don't think this will be productive much longer." Fuchs later added, “Let’s save the relationship,” according to a new CNN report.

The correspondence is part of a large trove of text messages from Meadow’s phone submitted by the House Select Committee in a recent court filing.

The hour-long call is at the heart of a Georgian investigation into whether Trump and his allies’ actions to overturn the state’s election results were criminal, and state prosecutors have convened a special grand jury to hear evidence and, if needed, subpoena witnesses and documents to bolster the state’s investigation.

Perdue 'Doing What You And President Want'

David Perdue, who lost his Senate seat to Democrat Jon Ossoff in a January 5, 2021, runoff election, reentered the political landscape last year to challenge Kemp in the governor’s race at a time Trump was on the lookout for a challenger to primary the incumbent governor.

Perdue won Trump’s coveted endorsement and has since embraced and parroted the former president’s baseless claims of fraud in the 2020 elections, even though multiple recounts confirmed his and Trump’s loss in the state.

CNN has released a fresh round of text messages that show Perdue, who was preparing for the Georgia Senate runoff, also partook in Trumpworld’s 2020 pressure campaign in Georgia.

“Carr,” Perdue wrote — referring to Georgia’s Attorney General, Chris Carr — “won’t be of any help with SOS.” Meadows received this text message on December 13, 2020. "I have a call into the Governor's general counsel now to see if they might help," Perdue added.

The text came days after Trump warned Carr not to rally GOP officials against a lawsuit that Texas filed with the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out millions of votes in Georgia and three other battleground states.

However, Carr, in brave defiance of Trump, assailed the lawsuit, calling it “constitutionally legally, and factually wrong,” and urged the justices to reject it.

Afterward, in a December 29 message, Perdue texted Meadows of his effort to arrange a meeting between Rudy Giuliani — the disgraced former Trump lawyer — and top Republican members of the Georgia state senate. "I'm trying to set up this call with state legislature leaders and Rudy," Perdue said. "I just want to make sure I'm doing what you and the president want."

“Great,” Meadows replied.

The next day, Giuliani appeared before the Georgia State Senate subcommittee to peddle lies and outlandish claims of election fraud.

Fani Willis, District Attorney of Fulton County, has been investigating Trump’s calls with Raffensperger and an official in his office; Guiliani’s falsehood-ridden presentation to Georgia lawmakers; Senator Lindsey Graham’s pressure phone call to Raffensperger; and the sudden resignation of Byung Pak, a former US attorney in Atlanta.

Investigators in Georgia have deposed 50 witnesses and plan to subpoena 30 others, according to CNN, an investigative process the special grand jury is expected to strengthen. "I imagine that we're going to be issuing subpoenas to a lot of people, and that all of them are not going to welcome our invitation to come speak with us," Willis told CNN.

Requests for comments sent to Fuchs, Perdue’s campaign, and Meadows went unanswered. Giuliani’s attorney didn’t comment on the text messages but said his client hadn’t been contacted by Georgian authorities.

Trump Ally Perdue To Challenge Georgia GOP Governor Kemp In Primary

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former U.S. Senator David Perdue plans to challenge Georgia Governor Brian Kemp in next year's election, U.S. media reported on Sunday, opening a new Republican Party rift in a battleground state that handed Democrats their current U.S. Senate majority.

Perdue intends to make his announcement in a video on Monday and file his campaign paper work at the same time, Politico and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, citing unnamed sources briefed on his plans.

Neither Perdue nor the Georgia Republican Party were immediately available to comment.

The reports said Perdue, a wealthy businessman, was recruited to run for governor by former President Donald Trump, after Kemp refused to help block November 2020 election results in the state that contributed to Democrat Joe Biden winning the presidency.

Voting rights activist Stacey Abrams announced on Wednesday that she would run for the Democratic Party's gubernatorial nomination in Georgia, her second bid for the office.

Trump's false claims about widespread election fraud have been blamed for dividing Georgia Republicans ahead of a pair of U.S. Senate run-off elections last January, in which Perdue was defeated by Democratic Senator Jon Ossoff. Former Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler also lost to Democrat Raphael Warnock in the run-offs.

Responding to the Sunday media reports, a Kemp campaign spokesman blasted Perdue as "the man who lost Republicans the United States Senate."

"Governor Kemp has a proven track record of fighting the radical left to put hardworking Georgians first," Kemp spokesman Cody Hall said in a statement.

(Reporting by David Morgan and Susan Heavey; editing by Mary Milliken and Grant McCool)

In Georgia, Trump Says Stacey Abrams 'Would Be Better' Than Gov. Kemp

PERRY, Georgia. — Thousands packed the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry as former President Donald Trump held a rally for a slate of pro-Trump candidates running for office in Georgia in 2022. Trump has remained fixated on Georgia and Gov. Brian Kemp since Kemp refused to intervene in the state's election results, which President Joe Biden won by about 11,000 votes. The rally was as much anti-Kemp as it was pro-Trump. At one point, Trump said Stacey Abrams would be a better governor than Kemp. With the exception of Herschel Walker, the GOP speakers took the stage one-by-one, with the same them...

Bizarre Trump Letter Demands Georgia Officials Name ‘True Winner’ Of 2020 Election

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

In a letter sent on Friday, Donald Trump insisted that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger decertify President Joe Biden's election win based on Trump's obsession over (unsubstantiated) voter fraud claims. In not one, not two, but three separate recounts, it's been confirmed that Biden beat Trump in Georgia by 12,000 votes.

Surprising no one, the Trump letter is chock-full of lies and incorrect information. The letter, which was sent via email, accused both fellow Republican Raffensperger and Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of "doing a tremendous disservice" to the state and nation. He describes the country as being "systemically" destroyed by an "illegitimate" president and urges that the "truth must be allowed to come out," as covered by the New York Daily News The truth is, of course, that Trump lost the election. And that he can't face reality.

"I would respectfully request that your department check this," the letter reads in part, in reference to a report of what he says are more than 40,000 absentee ballots in violation of the chain of custody rules. "And, if true, along with many other claims of voter fraud and voter irregularities, start the process of decertifying the 2020 Election, or whatever the correct legal remedy is, and announce the true winner."

Mind you, Georgia prosecutors are already investigating Trump's fervent attempts to overturn the election results, with the secretary of state's office looking into phone calls made by Trump, in which he attempted to pressure Raffernsperger into finding the votes needed to make him the winner.

"All I want to do is this: I just want to find 11,780 votes," Trump told Raffernsperger during the now infamous January 2 phone call. Beyond this well-covered one-liner, criminal investigators have been gathering documents, interviewing folks, and building out contacts with congressional investigators in order to solidify a case against the national embarrassment.

"The Trump investigation is ongoing," Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis told reporters per CNN. "As a district attorney, I do not have the right to look the other way on any crime that may have happened in my jurisdiction." Willis added that while she has a team dedicated to investigating Trump, her biggest priority is to keep "violent offenders off the street."

On the one hand, it's tempting to let Trump's endless hysteria fade into the background. Whether or not it's even worth it to give him national coverage is debatable; does it add or detract from how seriously voters take him? How does it impact the credibility with which people might believe his claims? At what point will people see Trump's blabbering for what it is: obsessive, baseless delusion with no evidence to back it up?

But the sad reality is Trump does have a fan base and his incessant fraud claims clearly made an impact on at least some folks in the United States. The biggest example? The mob that literally stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6 in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden's election win.

If Corporations Are ‘People,’ They Just Might Have An Opinion

Reprinted with permission from Roll Call

That Pepsi bottle on the counter looks so out of place. My husband has always been a Diet Coke man. It's a matter of principle, he tells me, even as he admits he prefers "The Real Thing." Coca-Cola's statement disapproving of Georgia's new voting restrictions was too little, too late, and that's that, he says. All of that puts the Atlanta-based soft drink giant in a bind, since even its belated critical stand was too much for backers of the bill, who are also banishing Coke from their own fridges, they say.

What's a company to do?

I can't feel too sorry for Coca-Cola, Delta, and the rest, though, since they've been playing the political game forever while pretending to be above it all. And I have to stifle a laugh at the Republican politicians who are admonishing corporations and sports leagues now that the bills the GOP instigated aren't getting a pass. These are the same pols who eagerly accepted campaign donations and good PR in days past.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is astute enough to recognize why his furrowed brow and outraged words are landing with a thud. It's why his story is constantly changing. He told companies to stay out of politics, was called on it, then said he meant to only offer advice that business leaders read the fine print before opening their mouths and closing their pocketbooks.

Carefully studying the legislation would be more than I'd wager Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp did, judging by the speed with which he signed the 98-page, GOP-led monster, after it raced through the state legislature, though I'm sure he was briefed on its intent. However, the arrest of duly elected Democratic state Rep. Park Cannon after she knocked on Kemp's door to witness the signing seemed to happen in excruciating slow motion.

Kemp's expressions of concern for Black-owned businesses hurt by Major League Baseball moving its All-Star Game from Georgia, after he prevented Cannon from witnessing the signing of a bill that would affect so many of her constituents, earns him a spot right alongside McConnell in the hypocrites' hall of fame.

Many Georgia Democratic politicians and activists, such as Stacey Abrams, Kemp's past and maybe future opponent, have reminded those who would boycott the state about the workers who would pay a price. But the blame for the punitive actions clearly lies at the feet of the lawmakers who rushed to fix an election system that was not broken — unless broken is defined as losing presidential and senatorial contests.

Devil's In The Details

Apparently, more and more companies are taking Kemp's advice to become informed about not only Georgia's bill but also voting legislation that Republican-controlled legislatures are rushing to pass across the country. The New York Times provided a handy deep dive into the Georgia law. Here are some lowlights: Voters will have less time to request absentee ballots; drop boxes still exist, but barely; if election problems arise, it will be more difficult to extend voting hours; and so much more.

What many find most disturbing in that and other bills are new rules that would give legislatures the right to overrule the will of voters. For instance, in Georgia, the GOP-led legislature is now empowered to suspend county election officials. Isn't that what Donald Trump dictated in his threatening calls to state officials?

How widespread is the threat to democracy? The Brennan Center for Justice estimated that, as of late March, legislators had introduced 361 bills with restrictive provisions in 47 states.

I, for one, would be happy to never hear the word "cancel" again, now that it's used as a mantra from the folks who want to cancel the will of the voters who favored Joe Biden. Did they honestly expect American citizens (many of whom work for or patronize those now-vocal corporations) to take it? After all the corporate statements last summer supporting equity and racial justice after George Floyd's deadly interaction with law enforcement, it was inevitable that demands to back up those words with action would follow.

Good For Business?

Recently, more than 100 chief executives and corporate leaders met virtually to discuss taking action to oppose the voting bills, including withholding investments from states that pass such measures and donations from politicians who support them. Get McConnell the smelling salts!

That's a little surprising since the usual corporate comfort zone is taking the tax breaks and hiring lots of lobbyists. So a certain amount of cynicism is allowed. Paying attention now must be good for business, or CEOs wouldn't be considering it. You also have to credit the 72 African American executives who signed a letter criticizing business as usual. Two of them — Kenneth Chenault, the former chief executive of American Express, and Kenneth Frazier, the chief executive of Merck — reportedly helped lead the meeting.

In Michigan, leaders of Ford and General Motors joined other businesses based there to voice their opposition to GOP-sponsored election bills in that state and around the country. And more than a dozen top law firms have committed to forming what amounts to legal "SWAT teams" to fight the laws.

Remember when McConnell celebrated the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling that companies could finance election spending? "An important step" in restoring their First Amendment rights, he said. Mitt Romney famously said: "Corporations are people."

Well, people are going to have an opinion and perhaps, when prodded, a conscience. From now on, Georgia and states with laws on deck (a baseball reference in memory of a missed All-Star opportunity) have to decide if corporations are naughty children to be scolded and condescended to, or not.

For those without Fortune 500 bona fides, and only their vote as voice, why wouldn't that vote be protected as precious? Which brings me back to my husband, who reminds me, only half-jokingly, that not only is he doing his part, he's also in good company. Will Smith has decided that his next project is canceling plans to film in Georgia because of the state's freshly minted voting restrictions.

Bad boys, indeed.

Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Charlotte Observer, as national correspondent for Politics Daily, and is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.

Sorry, Wingnuts: You Don't Get To 'Cancel' Baseball This Year

Barring natural disasters or unforeseen health crises, chances are I'll watch around 150 Red Sox games during the 2021 season. Along with parts of other contests as the pennant races advance. And would have done, it's important to emphasize, whether deposed strongman Donald J. Trump likes it or not.

Boycott baseball? I literally can't remember not being a baseball fan. Home movies exist of me imitating the home run trot of Brooklyn Dodgers first baseman Howie Schultz, whom I've otherwise forgotten. One of my epic childhood memories is walking up a darkened stadium ramp at New York's Polo Grounds holding my father's hand into the astonishing green of the playing field and the actual, physical presence of Willie Mays—a mythic figure in my boyish imagination.

As for the All-Star game, I normally take a pass for the same reason I skip Spring training games. They're a relic of the radio era, when American League fans got to see National League standouts only at All-Star time. Apart from the honor, most players would rather have the day off. They're strictly exhibitions, not real contests.

Selfishly, I'd have preferred that Major League Baseball avoid political controversy altogether. To me, the game's a refuge, a few blessed hours when the daily ruck and moil of politics simply doesn't exist. But that could be my white privilege talking, to employ a phrase that also makes my feet itch.

Problem is, certain realities can't be avoided.

You can tell by the blundering, characteristically ungrammatical way former Boss Trump jumped into the controversy over Major League Baseball's pulling the 2021 All-Star game out of Atlanta to protest Georgia's new voting law, hyperbolically characterized by Joe Biden as "Jim Crow on steroids."

Continuing to whine about the 2021 presidential election that he lost by seven million votes, Trump complained, "For years the Radical Left Democrats have played dirty by boycotting products when anything from that company is done or stated in any way that offends them. Now they are going big time with WOKE CANCEL CULTURE and our sacred elections."

He produced a list of major corporations including Major League Baseball, Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines JPMorgan Chase, ViacomCBS, Citigroup, and Merck and demanded his supporters boycott their products.

'We can play the game better than them," Trump boasted. "The Radical Left will destroy our Country if we let them. We will not become a Socialist Nation." Then came the punchline: "Happy Easter!"

Last Easter, it will be recalled, Trump was doing PR for COVID-19, urging parishioners to crowd into churches in defiance of social-distancing.

As usual, this is upside-down. It's mainly the political right in the United States that has long practiced shunning those with whom they disagree. Think Dixie Chicks. Think Colin Kaepernick.

Even French fries became "Freedom Fries" after France's UN Ambassador warned President George W. Bush against the folly of invading Iraq. (Months later, a friend sent me a photo documenting a cynical joke I'd made: a vending machine in an Arkansas truck stop offering 50-cent "Freedom Ticklers.")

So don't "Cancel Culture" me; Republicans invented it.

As for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp's phony victimization, there was nothing subtle about the staged iconography of his signing ceremony. Seven middle-aged white men posing in front of an idealized painting of a pre-Civil War plantation. The only thing missing was a Rebel flag.

Arresting a Black woman legislator for having the temerity to knock on the office door was an added touch.

Kemp, see, had incurred Trumpist wrath by defending the integrity of Georgia's presidential vote and its subsequent Senate runoffs—all narrowly won by Democrats. The purpose of the new law is to cover his political butt by making it marginally harder to vote, thereby suppressing Black turnout.

What other reason could there be for reducing the number of electoral drop boxes in Metro Atlanta from 94 to 23, and moving them inside government buildings shuttered after normal working hours?

For making it much harder to vote absentee?

For giving a legislative committee power to move precincts around and make it difficult for voters who show up at the wrong place to file provisional ballots?

For making it illegal to give water to voters waiting in long lines? As if Black voters don't cherish their hard-won right to vote and would give up and go home.

Yes, the amazing Stacey Abrams can probably overcome such cynical ploys all over again. So just in case, the new law takes election supervision away from honorable Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and gives it to a GOP-dominated legislative committee that is also empowered—get this—to remove county election officials for replacements of their own choosing.

Jim Crow? Not really. This is basically election reform, Kremlin-style.

Meanwhile, play ball! Because if Trump is fighting MLB and Coca-Cola, much less Citigroup and CBS, then Trump is losing.

All over again.