What a difference a week makes.
Vice President Mike Pence delivered a full-throated endorsement of Donald Trump’s intervention in a Texas case that seeks to have millions of ballots thrown out in several swing states the president lost.
If the Supreme Court takes the case, it will decide whether to do so – and hand Mr Trump a second term.
“President Donald Trump deserves his day in court – the Supreme Court,” Mr Pence said a rally in Augusta, Georgia, for two embattle GOP senators facing runoff elections.
“And all I can say is: God bless Texas,” the VP said. “We’re going to keep fighting until every legal vote is counted.
“I know a lot people have their doubts about this election,” he said to boos. “I know I do.”
Some legal and elections experts say the Texas case likely is the lone remaining way Mr Trump and Mr Pence can stay in office. The president has referred to that case as “the big one”. He and his legal team have lost or withdrawn over 40 cases in states including Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin since Mr Biden was projected as the next commander in chief in early November.
The VP’s tone marked a shift.
During some recent public events, he has not been telling attendees that he believes there was the widespread voter fraud that his boss is claiming without releasing any proof.
In fact, during a Covid-19 briefing at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters last Friday in Atlanta, Mr Pence and other attendees – including GOP Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler – barely mentioned the president’s name.
Mr Perdue also had a different message six days later when he was in front of voters rather than sitting with medical experts. He told the crowd, to cheers, that he would stand by Mr Trump during his fight until they get “an honest accounting” of the vote in the state.
After three recounts, Mr Biden has been certified as the winner there each time.
But Mr Pence’s main focus during the rally was on the coming Senate runoff elections.
“For all we have yet to do, we need the Peach State to defend the majority,” he said. “Because the road to the majority runs through Georgia.”
Both sitting GOP Georgia senators face Democratic challengers in 5 January runoff elections.
If Republicans win just one of those seats, they will maintain a razor-thin majority when the new Senate is seated early next month. But if both Democratic candidates, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, win, that party would take the majority – via Vice President-elect Kamala Harris being able to cast the tie-breaking vote.
Addressing the audience at an Augusta airport before the VP spoke, Mr Perdue cast the two runoffs as the “most serious” situation in American political history.
He claimed that progressive Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has said Democrats must win both races “because we don’t want to negotiate”.
“The choice in this race is between going to a socialist society … and freedom,” the senior Georgia senator said.
“Guys, it never got more serious than this,” Mr Perdue said. “This race will determine the future of our country for 100 years.”
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