ATLANTA – Gov. Brian Kemp said Wednesday he’s focused on Georgia’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and next week’s runoffs for the state’s two U.S. Senate seats, calling everything else a “distraction.”
Kemp was responding to criticism leveled by President Donald Trump earlier Wednesday. In a Twitter post, Trump called on the Republican governor to resign for his “obstructionist” refusal to interfere in the awarding of Georgia’s 16 Electoral College votes to President-elect Joe Biden.
Trump continues to claim he carried Georgia in the Nov. 3 election, despite Biden winning nearly 12,000 more votes in the Peach State than the president, a result that has been certified by several recounts that found no evidence of widespread fraud.
“I’ve supported the president. I worked as hard as anybody in this state for his reelection,” Kemp told reporters during a news conference at the Georgia Capitol. “But at the end of the day, I have to follow the law and the Constitution.”
Kemp said he’s focused instead on getting Georgians stricken with COVID-19 who require hospitalization in a hospital bed. He said state public health officials are working to reopen the Georgia World Congress Center as an overflow care facility for coronavirus patients as soon as possible.
Health-care workers also are busy vaccinating Georgia nursing home patients, an effort that began this week.
“I met with [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] Director [Dr. Robert] Redfield today,” Kemp said. “I gave him a lot of credit on Monday when he started rolling out vaccines to nursing homes.”
Kemp said he’s also working hard to ensure the reelection of Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler on Jan. 5 “to save our country from socialism, defunding the police and the Green New Deal,” echoing campaign themes the GOP incumbents have sounded in their campaigns against Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock.
“I don’t want to wake up Jan. 6 wondering what else I could have done,” the governor said. “I’ve done everything I can.”
Kemp also defended the Georgia Bureau of Investigation against criticism by Rudolph Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer and a former New York City Mayor. Giuliani dismissed as “a joke” a signature match audit of absentee ballots in Cobb County the GBI helped conduct that found no evidence of fraud.
Kemp said he was glad Secretary of State Brian Raffensperger ordered the audit and that the GBI did a good job on it.
The governor’s news conference came shortly after state lawmakers on the Georgia Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Elections wrapped up a fourth hearing on the Nov. 3 election that rehashed disputed fraud claims and drew witnesses who had already testified at the Capitol in recent weeks. Giuliani was among the witnesses making a repeat appearance.
Beau Evans of Capitol Beat News Service contributed to this report.