ATLANTA (CN) — Former President Barack Obama headlined a virtual rally Friday afternoon to campaign for a pair of Georgia Democrats ahead of the state’s critical Senate runoff election, telling voters the results will shape the Biden presidency.
In a show of party unity, Obama appeared alongside Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and the Reverend Raphael Warnock, 2018 gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and Congresswoman-elect Nikema Williams as part of an effort to flip two Senate seats currently held by Republicans.
The Jan. 5 runoff races pitting Warnock against Senator Kelly Loeffler and Ossoff against Senator David Perdue will decide which party secures control of the Senate in the next Congress.
Speaking candidly about the importance of the race during the livestream, Obama told viewers that the election outcome “is going to determine the course of the Biden presidency and whether Joe Biden and Kamala Harris can deliver legislatively all the commitments they’ve made.”
If both Ossoff and Warnock are victorious, party control of the Senate would be split 50-50, giving Democratic Vice President-elect Harris the tie-breaking vote.
Obama previously campaigned in person for Warnock and Ossoff ahead of the November general election. Neither candidate in the two Senate contests received more than 50% of the vote, triggering the runoff.
Citing his administration’s struggles to pass legislation, Obama said control of the Senate “really matters.”
“The promise of the Biden presidency and the Harris vice presidency rests, in part, on their ability to have a cooperative posture with Congress,” Obama said.
“If you don’t have a majority, if the Senate is controlled by Republicans who are interested in obstruction and gridlock rather than progress and helping people, they can block just about anything,” added.
Obama also took aim at Loeffler and Perdue during his remarks, bringing up their stock-trading controversies and saying they were “first and foremost worried about their stock portfolio” after receiving briefings about the coronavirus.
Ossoff took the opportunity to call out Perdue’s “gross abuse of power” Friday and referred to the two incumbent senators as “the Bonnie and Clyde of political corruption in America.”
Perdue and Loeffler are scheduled to appear alongside President Donald Trump at a rally Saturday at Valdosta Regional Airport in south central Georgia.
Friday’s virtual event reached an audience of over 17,000 viewers with just days to go before the Dec. 7 voter registration deadline and the start of early voting on Dec. 14. According to Abrams, 1 million Georgians have already applied for absentee ballots for the runoff race.