Axios co-founder Mike Allen told CNBC Thursday that some Republicans believe President Donald Trump will hurt the party’s chances in next week’s Georgia Senate runoff election.
“Republicans think a lot about President Trump sabotaging this race. He’s done so much not to help these candidates,” Allen said on Squawk Box, referring to GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue .
“I talk to Republicans and they look at what’s going on and they say, ‘You know, he has to think,’ I want to send a message, if I don’t vote, Republicans are in trouble, ‘” he added added Allen, a longtime Washington political reporter.
Allen’s comments come ahead of Tuesday’s crucial runoff election that will determine the balance of power in the US Senate. Loeffler runs against Democrat Raphael Warnock, while Perdue’s opponent is Democrat Jon Ossoff. Trump was promoting Loeffler and Perdue earlier this month, and he will hold another rally in the state on Monday.
Republicans only need to win one of the races to get a 100-seat majority in the Senate. The GOP currently has a 50-48 advantage.
If both Democrats are victorious in Georgia, that would make the difference for their party, as Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris would have the casting vote. It would also mean the Democrats control both houses of Congress as well as the White House after President-elect Joe Biden was inaugurated on Jan. 20. Biden defeated Trump in the November 3 election, partly aided by his victory in Georgia. Biden was the first Democrat to win the state since 1992.
“Maintaining a Republican majority in the Senate has been a priority for the president from the start,” Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh told CNBC on Thursday. “He will rally voters to support Senators Perdue and Loeffler and warn that their opponents are left-wing extremists who support higher taxes, the job-damaging Green New Deal and the amnesty for 11 million illegal aliens.”
Allen, who co-founded Politico before starting Axios in January 2017, said Republicans were initially confident that Loeffler and Perdue would defeat their Democratic challengers. “Georgia is still pretty red despite having won a president there, so Republicans said, ‘In the end, that might be fine.’ They’re not sure it’s okay anymore, and a lot has to do with the president, “Allen said.
Trump has refused to give the election to Biden, falsely claiming that he lost the race due to massive election fraud. He also attacked numerous elected Republicans in Georgia, including Governor Brian Kemp, to help run the election.
Trump has also urged Congress to increase stimulus checks for Americans to $ 2,000 by delaying a $ 900 billion coronavirus aid package with $ 600 in direct payments for days before final signing. He has continued his call for $ 2,000 checks, a proposal that is Democrat backed and not popular with Senate Republicans.
Ossoff and Warnock quickly took up Trump’s demand last week and used it to beat their opponents. However, Loeffler and Perdue have since endorsed Trump’s proposal for $ 2,000 checks.
“Republicans look at it and say like President Trump is saying something every day that either sums up these candidates or some of them … makes voters who may be sick of Trump anyway, but who are Republicans to their bones like every day he gives them a reason either not to come out or to choose to go the other way, “Allen said.
CNBC reached out to the Loeffler and Perdue campaigns and the White House to comment on Allen’s remarks.