In Georgia, Trump pressures Pence, Biden promises 'new day' with Senate runoffs

CHIP SOMODEVILLA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

US President-elect Joe Biden and President Donald Trump held rallies in Georgia to persuade supporters to turn out for the runoff US Senate elections that will determine the balance of power in Washington.

The Georgia races pit a pair of incumbent Republicans, Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, against Democratic challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, respectively.

Biden wants both Democrats to win so his party will control both houses of Congress when he takes office on January 20. Trump's team wants Republicans to win so that, with Senate control, his party can block or curtail Biden's legislative agenda.

Trump, a Republican who lost the November presidential election to his Democratic counterpart, has not conceded to Biden, and he spent part of his rally remarks in Dalton, a city in Georgia's heavily Republican northwest, suggesting that he would try to hold on to power.

"They're not taking this White House. We're going to fight like hell," Trump said to cheers from the crowd, which chanted "Fight for Trump!"

Biden criticised the outgoing administration for its handling of the pandemic and promised a fresh start for the country with Democratic control. More than 350,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the United States, and it is spreading rapidly in most states.

"It’s a new year, and tomorrow can be a new day for Atlanta, for Georgia and for America," Biden said.

He said the Trump administration had “gotten off to a god-awful start" with the slow rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines. “The president spends more time whining and complaining than doing something about the problem,” he said.

Democratic candidates, if elected, would ensure that $2,000 stimulus checks were delivered to Americans as the economy struggles during the coronavirus pandemic, Biden said.

The outgoing president also put pressure on Vice President Mike Pence, who will receive the results of the state-by-state Electoral College in Congress on Wednesday, to take action in his favor. Biden beat Trump 306-232 in electoral votes and carried the popular vote by more than 7 million ballots.

"I hope Mike Pence comes through for us," Trump said, referring to the vice president as a great guy. "If he doesn't come through, I won't like him quite as much," Trump said.

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