independent– Donald Trump claimed multiple times that he won the state of Georgia at a rally for the Republican candidates in the Senate runoffs, while also seeming to admit his own defeat in the presidential election.
In meandering remarks borrowing many talking points from his campaign stump speech, the president occasionally slipped into speaking about what his administration would have done over the next four years – seeming to acknowledge that his time in power is over.
As he jumped from topic to topic, at times pulling his comments back to encouraging his followers to vote for Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, the president also claimed that if he had lost he would be a gracious loser and would “take it easy” in Florida.
Saturday night’s rally in Valdosta, Georgia, is the first major public event the president has taken part in since election night just over a month ago.
In remarks regarding his efforts to contest the election, one point Mr Trump said: “I’ve probably worked harder in the last three weeks than I ever have in my life. Doing this.”
After arriving on Air Force One, the president was introduced by the first lady, Melania Trump, who stressed the importance to the crowd of exercising their right to vote for the Republican Senate candidates on 5 January.
Taking to the stage to chants of “four more years”, Mr Trump spent much time speaking about his baseless allegations of electoral fraud, but did return to talking about the two senators on several occasions.
On the presidential election, he came close to admitting he lost when he said: “They say that if you win Florida and if you win Ohio, in history you’ve never lost an election. This has got to be a first time.”
He quickly added: “But truth is they were right, we’ve never lost an election. We’re winning this election.”
At another point, while saying that China and Iran are the happiest people in the world right now because of the election result, Mr Trump added while speaking about policy to the regime in Tehran: “What we would have done in the next four years. And now we’re giving it all away.”
Conspiracy theories about electoral fraud dominated. When Senator Loeffler took to the stage, it was amid chants of “stop the steal”. When Senator Perdue began to speak he was drowned out by chants of “fight for Trump”.
After they spoke, while complaining again about the election being stolen from him, the president attacked the governor and secretary of state of Georgia, both Republicans.
Marrying together the two themes of the rally, Mr Trump said that Ms Loeffler and Mr Perdue would “get in and we’ll fix the system”.
Near the end of his remarks, he appeared to tease a 2024 run: “We’re gonna win back the White House. We’re gonna win it back.”
He then added: “I don’t want to wait until 2024. I want to go back three weeks.”
As the president wrapped up his remarks he said: “We will never, ever surrender.”