Obama stumps for Warnock with five days left to go in Georgia runoff

The former president enjoys a broad following among Democrats.

December 1, 2022, 11:35 PM

Visiting Georgia on Thursday to campaign for Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, former President Barack Obama urged the crowd to turn out at the polls, laying out why the state's Tuesday runoff is significant despite a decided Senate majority, touting Democratic accomplishments and taking multiple jabs at Republican Herschel Walker, who has lobbed his own criticisms at Warnock.

"Some folks are asking, 'Well, if Democrats already have control of the Senate, why does this matter? What is the difference between 50 and 51?' The answer is a lot. Let me break it down for you: An extra senator gives Democrats more breathing room on important bills. It prevents one person from holding up everything," Obama said at a rally in Atlanta.

"The biggest reason 51 is better than 50 because it means Rev. Warnock will keep representing you in Washington," Obama said to cheers.

"As your senator, Rev. Warnock hasn't been off chasing wacky conspiracy theories, he hasn't been drumming up fear and division. They talk about some folks being show horses and some folks being workhorses -- and you've got a workhorse here. He's been working," Obama said, pointing to Warnock.

After Walker recently went viral for his campaign speech comments about vampires and werewolves, Obama joked that he also had those debates ... when he was 7 years old.

"When you spend more time thinking about horror movie fantasies than you do thinking about the people you want to represent, that says something about your priorities," Obama said.

"Mr. Walker decided he wanted to be a werewolf, which is great as far as I'm concerned. He can be anything he wants to be ... except United States Senator," the former president said.

Obama also echoed Warnock's closing campaign pitch, which has largely revolved around what Warnock called a contrast in character -- rather than just politics -- between him and Walker. (Walker, in turn, has said Warnock has controversies of his own and said Warnock doesn't believe in "redemption.")

"You deserve a senator you can be proud of. Somebody who will talk straight to you. Somebody who will fight for you. Somebody who has garnered respect in Washington. Somebody like Rev. Warnock, who has been doing it," Obama said.

PHOTO: In this Oct. 28, 2022, file photo, former President Barack Obama greets Sen. Raphael Warnock as he arrives at a campaign event for Georgia Democrats on Oct. 28, 2022, in College Park, Ga.
In this Oct. 28, 2022, file photo, former President Barack Obama greets Sen. Raphael Warnock as he arrives at a campaign event for Georgia Democrats on Oct. 28, 2022, in College Park, Ga.
Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images, FILE

Giving a midterm report card, Obama celebrated that many election deniers had lost. 

"You may be feeling pretty good, because a few weeks ago people turned out to vote. And as a result, Democrats still have control of the Senate. And because of some of other concerted efforts, in a lot of important states, many of the most egregious, potentially dangerous and -- let's face it -- somewhat crazy folks, election deniers, got beat. That's the good news," he said. "It turns out that most Americans prefer leaders who want to bring people together, to solve real problems as opposed to conspiracy theorists and fear mongers. That makes me somewhat optimistic. It's good to know that folks would prefer normal to lunatics."

When Warnock took the stage ahead of Obama on Thursday, he emphasized a common throughline in his campaign: "This is about character and competence."

"We have political differences, that's part of what makes this country a great country. But let me tell you: In my race, this is not about Republican and Democrat. This is not about right and left. This is about the difference between right and wrong," he said.

"I believe in my soul that Georgia knows that Georgia is better than Herschel Walker," he said.

"I don't mind giving credit where credit is due: Herschel Walker was an amazing athlete," he said of the University of Georgia football legend. Warnock added, "He was an amazing running back, and come next Tuesday we're gonna send him running back to Texas."

Talking about how he fought for Saturday voting, Warnock told the crowd that the record-breaking turnout in the runoff so far had "inspired" him but for supporters not to become complacent.

"I don't want us to be lulled to sleep," he said.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events