President Donald Trump’s waffling over the $900 billion Covid relief package, which he has yet to sign, is leaving his fellow Republicans in Georgia in a tough spot as they fight to maintain control of the US Senate.
GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler — who are running as Trump loyalists — have touted the bill, which they both voted for. Perdue launched ads the morning after the bill was passed telling Georgians that he “delivered” billions of dollars in Covid relief and direct checks to those in need, which his Democratic opponent, Jon Ossoff, is now calling to be taken down since Trump has not signed the legislation.
Instead, Trump continues to complain about the bill, creating uncertainty for the 12 million Americans on the verge of losing unemployment benefits. Perdue and Loeffler have yet to say if they agree with the President, who’s called for direct payments of $2,000, rather than the $600 in the bill.
Perdue has not even responded to the President’s call for increased checks, despite repeated inquiries to his campaign and official office. Now Ossoff is attempting to pressure the senator to take a stand. On Saturday, Ossoff’s campaign sent a letter to Atlanta TV stations calling on them to take down Perdue’s ad touting the passage of the relief bill. The Ossoff campaign argued that Perdue claiming he “delivered relief” was “indisputably false” since Trump hasn’t signed the legislation. The Democrat said he supported the bill, but even before Trump’s call for an increase to $2,000 payments, he called the $600 figure a “joke.”
The Perdue campaign did not respond to CNN’s inquiries about the status of their ad on Saturday and they once again ignored questions about where the senator stands on Trump’s calls for changes to the bill.
At a news conference on Wednesday, Loeffler said she would be open to the idea of bigger checks but argued that other parts of the package would have to be cut in order to accommodate the expense.
“I certainly support redirecting any wasteful spending to be very targeted at families and businesses who have been impacted by this virus through no fault of their own,” Loeffler said.
Trump’s mixed signals on the relief bill are just one example of how his erratic behavior during the waning days of his presidency is interrupting the careful messaging Republicans are trying to craft as they fight to hold onto these two seats and retain control of the majority in the US Senate.
Trump last week vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act, which was legislation Loeffler and Perdue both supported, setting up the first possible veto override of his presidency. Trump also continues to undermine the voting system in Georgia and relentlessly attack the Republican leaders who administered the November election in the state, which he lost to President-elect Joe Biden. His rhetoric has left the GOP in the difficult spot of begging his supporters to come out and vote in the two runoffs on January 5, while at the same time entertaining his baseless claims that the voting system there is rife with fraud.