PERRY, Georgia — Former president Donald Trump continued his attacks against Gov. Brian Kemp during a Saturday night rally in Georgia for a slate of pro-Trump candidates. Trump told the crowd that Stacey Abrams, a Democrat who ran for governor against Kemp in 2018, might have done a better job than the governor and invited her to take his place.
Trump’s comments at the rally continue a new trend of propping up Democrats over Republicans who won’t parrot conspiratorial theories about the 2020 election or who voted to impeach him following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
"Stacey, would you like to take his place?" Trump said onstage at the rally in Perry on Saturday. Trump has not endorsed a Republican challenger to run against Kemp.
It’s the latest in the ongoing (and seemingly one-way) feud between Trump and Kemp. The angst between the two men started in 2019 after Kemp appointed former Sen. Kelly Loeffler to fill a Senate seat, but more recently, Trump’s ire toward Kemp has centered on the 2020 election and Kemp’s unwillingness to pressure Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to overturn President Joe Biden’s win in the state and the decision to certify the results of the election.
“He’s done absolutely nothing,” Trump said of Kemp during a Fox News interview in November. “I'm ashamed that I endorsed him. But I look at what’s going on. It’s so terrible.”
Nearly a year later, Trump has continued his campaign to pressure Georgia election officials to overturn the results of the election. In a letter sent to Raffensperger last week, Trump urged him to open new investigations into the election and “announce the true winner.”
“You and Governor Kemp are doing a tremendous disservice to the Great State of Georgia, and to our Nation,” Trump wrote. Georgia has conducted multiple recounts of the results of the election that confirmed Biden’s win in the state.
Trump has continually lashed out against Republicans who won’t peddle unfounded conspiracy theories, and has endorsed primary challengers to run against them. Most recently, he’s said that Democrats should win over certain Republicans he’s at odds with. During an interview with The Real America’s Voice last week, Trump said he’d almost prefer that Democrats win over the House Republicans who voted to impeach him after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
"There are a few of those candidates in very, I would say, blue areas. I almost would rather have the Democrat win, to be honest with you.”
It’s a precarious situation for Republican candidates who need to balance attracting Trump supporters to vote for them while also asserting that there wasn’t widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. In Georgia, Kemp signed a voting bill into law that curtailed voting access for some people, especially in rural areas. The bill even went so far as to shift power away from Raffensperger, the secretary of state who recorded and leaked a call of Trump urging him to “find” enough votes to overturn the election.
But Trump and some of his supporters at the rally don’t think the law went far enough.
"Georgia’s election reform law is far too weak and soft to ensure real ballot integrity!" Trump wrote in a written statement in April. "Too bad the desperately needed election reforms in Georgia didn’t go further, as their originally approved Bill did, but the Governor and Lt. Governor would not go for it."
Garland Favorito, who’s currently suing to inspect 147,000 ballots in Fulton County, Georgia, called the new election law “the good, the bad, and the ugly,” adding the law has some “good stuff” in it but is short on transparency.
“It’s smoke and mirrors,” Bob Drevitson, a Trump supporter who attended the rally, told BuzzFeed News about Georgia’s recent voting law. “Let’s just do a little something to make ourselves look good.”
Drevitson, 65, did vote in both the presidential election and the January Senate runoffs but said his vote was “probably stolen.”