ATLANTA — Former President Barack Obama will lead a rally Friday for Senator Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., and Democratic candidate for governor, Stacey Abrams, in the final leg of the 2022 election in this highly competitive battlefield state.
“He is really looking forward to this visit. Georgia played a defining role over the past cycle and would likely be in the same position two years later,” Obama adviser Eric Schultz said ahead of the event. “The goal is to get the votes, to mobilize people, given the stakes of this year’s elections.”
Organized by the Georgia Democratic Party, the rally is scheduled for Friday night in Atlanta, with early voting in the state and record breaking on day one.
Obama hopes to use his star power within the party — primarily with young and black voters, the major Democratic constituencies that can be fickle in midterm elections — to motivate turnout.
He plans to highlight both threats to democracy and economic concerns, arguing that Democrats support voters to “bring costs under control, continue to create clean energy and high-tech jobs in Georgia.” and across the country, building on the first gun safety legislation in 30 years,” said Schultz. He will also argue that the Republicans, on the other hand, have “an agenda to cut taxes on the rich, impeach President Biden and chase wild conspiracy theories.”
It’s part of a multi-state tour for Obama, with events also planned in Wisconsin and Michigan, timed for the start of the early vote and focused on states where he believes he can make a difference.
“There is a strategic reason why these stops are planned as soon as people can vote,” said Schultz, adding that he plans to lay out the “unique” importance of 2022 races.
Warnock, who was first elected in a 2020 special election, is neck and neck in recent polls with Republican challenger Herschel Walker. Abrams follows Republican government Brian Kemp in most polls in a 2018 rematch.
Representative Nikema Williams, D-Ga., who represents the deep blue area of Atlanta, said Obama is known by voters here as the “forever president” and that his star power has “absolutely grown” since he left office.
“He’s a much sought-after surrogate on the campaign trail. I remember the very first rally he did, when he became president, and it was at Georgia Tech, which is right behind us here in Atlanta, and thousands of people came out. The whole stadium was full,” Williams told NBC News on Friday. “He still has an impact on young people… So we’re trying to bring in everyone we can who can continue to motivate our grassroots, motivate voters and make clear what’s at stake in this election.”
Obama lost Georgia in his otherwise successful 2008 and 2012 campaigns for president, but the state has gravitated toward Democrats in recent election cycles after voting for President Joe Biden and two Democratic senators in the 2020 cycle.
Also Friday, the Democratic Senate campaign arm launched a Georgia TV ad attacking Walker, highlighting past allegations of domestic violence and claims of dishonesty on his part.
On Thursday, when Biden visited New York, Senate Leader Chuck Schumer was caught on a hot microphone while expressing concerns about Georgia while he and the president chatted privately.
“The state where we’re going downhill is Georgia,” Schumer told Biden. “It’s hard to believe they’re going for Herschel Walker.
“But our vote – our early turnout in Georgia is huge. Huge!”
Asked about the comments, Justin Goodman, a spokesperson for the majority leader, told NBC News, “Schumer believes the Democratic candidates will win.”