Trump Says Brian Kemp Is Afraid of Stacey Abrams, Piles Pressure on Georgia GOP Over Election

President Donald Trump on Saturday night accused Georgia Governor Brian Kemp of being "afraid of Stacey Abrams" at his first campaign rally since losing the election, as he continued to pile pressure on Republican officials in the state to assist his efforts to reverse his defeat.

Earlier that morning, Trump reportedly called Kemp and urged him to push Georgia lawmakers to overturn President-elect Joe Biden's win in the state. He also asked the Republican for an audit of mail-in ballot signatures, but Kemp declined. In a tweet addressing their call, Kemp said that he had already publicly supported a signature audit and noted that he doesn't possess the power to demand it.

Speaking at the rally in Valdosta, Georgia hours later, the president blamed Kemp for allowing the "rigged" election.

"Your governor could stop it very easily if he knew what the hell he was doing... thousands of illegal votes were cast in each state," the president said as he repeated unverified claims of widespread voter fraud. "We have a big senatorial race going down in Georgia and we are watching Democrats very, very closely."

The president and first lady Melania Trump traveled to the Peach State on Saturday to draw support for Republican incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in the upcoming January 5 Senate runoff elections, which will determine control of the upper chamber. But the president spent a large portion of his address airing his own grievances over losing the election, casting doubt on the security of the election process without proof and criticizing Republicans in the state for refusing to support his efforts to overturn the election.

"Remember this, we had this massive race all over the country and they could cheat in Georgia and people aren't really watching it like they should," he said. "All I can do is say, 'I'm running, win and do a good job as president.' I don't run the elections."

"That's up to your government here, and for whatever reason, your secretary of state and your governor are afraid of Stacey Abrams," Trump added. "We know the Democrats are planning to cheat and we can't let them do it again."

Newsweek reached out to Kemp's office for comment.

On November 13, the president accused Kemp of colluding with Abrams, the governor's 2018 Democratic gubernatorial opponent, to make it "impossible" to check absentee ballot signatures.

Trump's aggressive attacks on Kemp over the past few weeks have taken a toll. A new Morning Consult poll, released Saturday, shows Kemp's approval rating dropping from 86 percent to 77 percent among Georgia Republican voters, and from 52 percent to 46 percent among overall voters since the election.

Before taking the stage, Trump suggested that he would stay in power if Kemp permitted a signature verification.

"I will easily & quickly win Georgia if Governor @BrianKempGA or the Secretary of State permit a simple signature verification," he tweeted. "Has not been done and will show large scale discrepancies. Why are these two 'Republicans' saying no? If we win Georgia, everything else falls in place."

In response, Kemp said that he had already "publicly called for a signature audit three times (11/20, 11/24, 12/3) to restore confidence in our election process and to ensure that only legal votes are counted in Georgia."

Trump at Georgia rally
VALDOSTA, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 05: President Donald Trump attends a rally in support of Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) and Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) on December 05, 2020 in Valdosta, Georgia. The rally with the senators comes ahead of a crucial runoff election for Perdue and Loeffler on January 5th which will decide who controls the United States senate. Spencer Platt/Getty Images/Getty