ATLANTA — President-elect Joseph R. Biden urged voters in Georgia to seize the rare opportunity to tip the scales of power in Washington by delivering victories for Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in the high-profile Senate runoff races here.
Mr. Biden said voters can build upon the success of the Nov. 3 election, when he became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the state since 1992.
“You’ve got to vote in record numbers again,” Mr. Biden said at a rally at the Pullman Yard in Northeast Atlanta. “You still need to vote as if your life depends on it. Because it does.”
Mr. Ossoff and Mr. Warnock are facing off against Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in the Jan. 5 runoff races. Democrats must win both seats to flip control of the Senate.
Mr. Biden said voters should think twice about supporting the Republicans after watching them sit back while President Trump and the state of Texas sought to nullify the results of the presidential election in Georgia.
“If you want to do the bidding of Texas, you should be running in Texas, not in Georgia because you know what, you’ve got a couple of folks running for the U.S. Senate in this state who are not confused at all: Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock — they are running to represent Georgia,” Mr. Biden said at the campaign event, which required tickets because of the pandemic.
“They will actually fight for you, represent you, stand up for you,” he said. “They won’t put Texas first. They won’t put Donald Trump first. They will not put themselves first, either. They will put you first. The people of Georgia.”
Mr. Biden rode the support of Black and minority voters and the growing numbers of college-educated voters living in the suburbs to a 12,000-vote win.
Democrats are hoping to recreate that magic in the runoff races, but that could be a tougher task without Mr. Trump atop the Republican ticket.
“Are you ready to vote for the two senators who are doers and not roadblocks?” Mr. Biden said. “Are you ready to vote for two senators who will fight for progress, not just get in the way of progress. Are you ready for two senators who know how to say ‘yes,’ not just the world ‘no.’”
The Biden visit follows a series of appearances from national Republicans.
Mr. Trump campaigned with Mr. Perdue and Ms. Loeffler earlier this month.
Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to return to the state Thursday, and a number of other likely 2024 GOP presidential contenders have been here in recent weeks.
The Biden event coincided with the first week of in-person early voting in Georgia and came a day after Mr. Biden asked Americans to “turn the page” after his victory was confirmed in the Electoral College voting across the country.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday answered that call on the floor of the Senate, congratulating Mr. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris on their victory.
“As of this morning our country has a president-elect and a vice-president elect,” Mr. McConnell said on the Senate floor. “Many millions of us had hoped the presidential election would yield a different result, but our system of government has processes to determine who will be sworn in on Jan. 20.
“The Electoral College has spoken,” the Kentucky Republican said.
“Beyond our differences, all Americans can take pride that our nation has a female vice president-elect for the very first time,” he said.
Before boarding his plane to Georgia, Mr. Biden told reporters he had a “good conversation with Mitch McConnell today.”
“I told him that while we disagree on a lot of things, there are things we can work together on,” Mr. Biden said in Delaware. “We agreed to get together sooner than later. And I’m looking forward to working with him.”
The exchange of niceties comes as the two men battled it out for their respective parties in Georgia, where spending on the two races is projected to eclipse $400 million.
A McConnell-aligned super PAC is pouring millions of dollars into television and radio ads attacking Mr. Ossoff and Mr. Warnock.
“Everything is at stake with control of Washington in the balance,” the narrator says in a PeachTree PAC ad that warns Mr. Ossoff and Mr. Warnock would join forces with the far-left. “The liberal gang wants amnesty for illegals, expensive government run healthcare, defunding police.”
“With Ossoff and Warnock, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer will control Congress,” the narrator says. “Georgia can stop them. Reject radicals Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.”
Trump 2020 campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said Mr. Perdue and Ms. Loeffler have been “proven solid, conservative leaders” and “strong allies of President Trump.”
“Their opponents, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, represent the left-most fringe of the Democrat Party and stand for higher taxes, the job-killing Green New Deal, gutting law enforcement, and granting amnesty to 11 million illegal aliens,” he said. “That Joe Biden would campaign for them is further proof that he is utterly in the grip of the extreme left, which is the driving force in today’s Democrat Party.”
At the rally Tuesday, Mr. Ossoff said if Republicans defend the Senate, they would block the push for robust COVID relief, a $15 federal minimum wage, a new civil rights act, and expanded affordable health care options.
“Georgia sent Donald Trump packing and now we are feeling hope in our hearts because for the first time in four years we have the opportunity to define the next chapter in American history and it is Georgia that has the power,” Mr. Ossoff said. “It is Georgia voters that have the power to write the next chapter in American history.”
Mr. Warnock said he would fight to defend and expand Obamacare, pass criminal justice reform, and adopt a new voting rights act named after late Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, a civil rights icon.
“We have big problems and big issues and that is why we have to stand together and we can’t allow anybody or anybody to divide us,” he said. “Folks that have no vision traffic in division.”
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and former gubernatorial candidate and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams also addressed the crowd.
Ahead of the visit, the Republican National Committee said Mr. Biden was getting dragged out of his basement in an attempt to shift attention away from the radical leanings of Mr. Ossoff and Mr. Warnock.
“Biden’s decision to appear with Warnock and Ossoff today is further proof Biden is a vessel for the radical left,” said RNC spokesman Steve Guest.
The pro-life Susan B. Anthony List said Mr. Biden was “going to bat for fellow abortion extremists.”
“Winning in Georgia would allow Biden and a radical Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate to expand the Supreme Court and impose an unfettered agenda of abortion on demand through birth, for any reason, paid for by taxpayers,” the group said in a statement.
Georgia sheriffs also criticized Democrats, saying the party has embraced the calls to “defund the police.”
“Ossoff and Warnock want to make it easier for the criminal element,” Walton County Sheriff Joe Chapman said at a press conference. “They want to give them the upper-hand against what we do every day.”
Mr. Biden has distanced himself from the calls to defund the police, which some Democrats have blamed for the party’s poor down ticket performance in the November elections.
Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway, however, said “all we have heard for months from the Democrat Party is ‘defund the police.’”
“I understand Joe Biden is talking the other way now not wanting to talk about ‘defunding the police’ until after this election,” he said. “But that doesn’t change anything.”