Stumping for Warnock, Obama urges Georgia to give Democrats a bigger Senate majority

Former President Barack Obama and Senator Raphael Warnock wave to the audience during a campaign rally.
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ATLANTA — Former President Barack Obama headlined a campaign rally for Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock on Thursday night to try to energize Peach State voters to head to the polls on the eve of the last day of early voting in the runoff election against Republican Herschel Walker.

“Because of what you did, you made all of this possible,” Obama said in a fiery 40-minute speech to upwards of 5,000 supporters packed inside Pullman Yards, a former industrial complex in the Kirkwood neighborhood of the city. “And now you need to do it again.”

It’s the second time Obama has visited Georgia to campaign for Warnock in just over a month, and on Thursday he mixed humor into his remarks to make the case for the Democrat.

“Mr. Walker has been talking about issues that are of great importance to the people of Georgia like if it’s better to be a vampire or a werewolf,” Obama said, taking a jab at Walker’s sometimes fantastical remarks made at recent campaign events. “This is a debate that I must confess I once had myself — when I was 7.”

Warnock, a Baptist preacher and incumbent senator, and Walker, a former local and national football hero, have been holding rallies across the state the past three weeks after neither candidate surpassed the 50% threshold needed to win in last month’s midterm election.

Through four days of in-person early voting over the past week, more than 1.1 million Georgians have already cast their ballots in the race, according to the secretary of state’s office. In November, a record 3.9 million ballots were cast.

Senator Raphael Warnock speaks from a podium at a rally.
Warnock at the Thursday rally. (Alyssa Pointer/Reuters)

But Democrats are wary of making any assumptions that apparently high turnout could tilt the race in their favor. This time around, they want to finish the job.

“I’m inspired by this turnout, but I don’t want us to be lulled to sleep,” Warnock said. “We saw record turnout last weekend, but don’t forget what had to happen for that to [take place]. ... We have got to keep our foot on the gas, all the way to victory.”

Both Obama and Warnock were frequently interrupted Thursday by the supportive chants of “Sí se puede” (“Yes we can” in Spanish) and “One more time” as attendees watched the two politicians talk about the race’s importance. The former president specifically addressed those in the state who might believe that voting in the runoff isn’t important since Democrats have already secured a Senate majority.

“What’s the difference between 50 and 51? Let me break it down: a lot!” he said. “It prevents one person from holding up everything.”

Obama is by far the most prominent Democrat to have stumped on behalf of Warnock during the runoff election, and his arrival in Georgia came as both candidates are spending feverishly to try to leave a final impression on voters.

The most recent figures show that groups from both parties have so far spent a combined $56.2 million since the race went to a runoff, according to AdImpact data. Democrats and outside groups have outspent Republicans and theirs by nearly 2 to 1, however, spending $36.1 million to Republicans’ $20.1 million thus far.

Attendees hold up signs during a rally for Warnock. Some signs read: Women for Warnock.
Attendees hold up signs during Warnock’s campaign rally on Thursday. (Alyssa Pointer/Reuters)

The $18.1 million spent by Warnock’s campaign far exceeds the $6.4 million spent by Walker’s, according to CNN.

Yet in a race where Warnock led Walker by less than 1% at the conclusion of last month’s final tally, Warnock and his allies aren’t taking any chances ahead of runoff election day.

“I’m here to tell you we can’t let up,” Warnock said. “We can’t tune out. We can’t be complacent. We have to run through the tape.

“Georgia is better than Herschel Walker,” he added. “You deserve a senator who actually knows the issues. You deserve a senator who will tell you the truth.”