Abrams Campaign Manager Touts Support From Rather, Scarborough

Appearing on MSNBC Thursday morning to defend Democrat Stacey Abrams’ refusal to concede the race for governor in Georgia and hurl accusations of voter suppression against Republican Brian Kemp, Abrams campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo touted support from disgraced former CBS News anchor Dan Rather and MSNBC’s own Joe Scarborough.

Interviewing Groh-Wargo in the 10:00 a.m. ET hour, anchor Hallie Jackson actually grilled the Abrams staffer for some of the heated rhetoric being used in the still-undecided race: “I think you, yourself, called Kemp the ‘Secretary of Suppression.’ Senator [Sherrod] Brown says if Stacey Abrams doesn’t win it’s because Republicans “stole the election”....is that kind of rhetoric really helpful? Or do you think people need to take a step back with the tone of which they’re talking about all of this?”

 

 

Groh-Wargo not only refused to “take a step back,” she actually thanked liberal media figures for voicing their support for Abrams during the contentious vote counting:

What we have attempted to do through this whole campaign and through the past week and now two days since the election is to be as honest as we possibly can be and to use the courts and to use our campaign to get to the bottom of counting every vote. And that’s meant we’ve literally deployed our staff to all 159 counties.

What we have also tried to do is be direct about what happened. And we’ve had folks from Dan Rather to Joe Scarborough to many others nationally, and tens of thousands of folks in state, with over 25,000 folks calling our hotline, say they are very concerned, count every vote.

After the Democratic operative blamed Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state up until a few days ago, for any problems on Election Day, Jackson pressed her again: “...just to be clear here, though, you’re talking about your concerns, but I did ask about the rhetoric and the language that is being used around this. Is it fair, based on that answer, to say you’re comfortable with the rhetoric and where the tone is on this? Yes, no?”

Groh-Wargo doubled down: “I’m comfortable with what our campaign is doing. And that is a very clear effort really exposing these issues.”

Credit to Jackson for asking tough questions, but Democrats can always count on support from at least some in the news media.

Here is a full transcript of the November 15 segment:

10:30 AM ET

HALLIE JACKSON: Let’s get a check now on Georgia, because there, Republican Brian Kemp says the governor’s race, he says, is over. But Democrat Stacey Abrams is refusing to give up the fight as a federal judge rules that absentee ballots with missing or incorrect birth dates must still be counted.

So let me bring in now Stacey Abrams Campaign Manager Lauren Groh-Wargo. Lauren, thank you very much for being on with us. And let me start with this, there are more ballots to be counted, but on Tuesday, earlier this week, you said that you need a net gain of about 17,000 votes to get close enough to try to get a run-off. That’s kind of the goal here for your campaign. Is that gonna be enough? Because Kemp’s campaign says the math is the same here.

LAUREN GROH-WARGO: Thanks so much for having me, Hallie. What I would say is our position has remained the same, which is count every vote. This is much bigger than Stacey Abrams. Our campaign over the past year and a half has gone all over the state, telling voters, in particular, voters who hadn’t been participating, that your vote matters, cast your ballot, trust the system. In contrast, our opponent, Brian Kemp, as secretary of state, did everything in his power to make it harder to vote, to purge voters from the roles, to provide old, 16-year-old machines that were breaking down, and to not prepare the counties to actually execute this election.

And so, today, we’re about 17,000 votes away from a runoff. But again, with the large-scale irregularities and problems we saw throughout the three weeks of early voting and on Election Day, our mission has been very simple, which is slow down the process, count as many of those absentees and provisionals as possible and count every vote. And we are thrilled that a fourth federal judge agreed with us last night. I mean, this is kind of extraordinary.

And I think there’s something that hasn’t quite been covered yet that I wanted to mention about this is that Kemp had said the whole time, “Don’t worry about me overseeing my own election, the counties do this work.” But what happened last night in this court order is we now have a second federal judge saying that it’s actually on the secretary of state’s office to ensure and correct any of these counting errors coming out of the county. So that goes to the point we made the whole time, that he had a real conflict overseeing this election.

JACKSON: So, Lauren, you’re raising some points, you’re raising some concerns that you and your campaign believe are very valid and need to be addressed. And I think that’s sort of one bucket. The other bucket, though, is the way that people around this have been talking about this. I think you, yourself, called Kemp the “Secretary of Suppression.” Senator Brown says if Stacey Abrams doesn’t win it’s because Republicans “stole the election.” And I’ll ask you the same question that I asked the Republican lawyer who was just on this show, which is, is that kind of rhetoric really helpful? Or do you think people need to take a step back with the tone of which they’re talking about all of this?

GROH-WARGO: What we have attempted to do through this whole campaign and through the past week and now two days since the election is to be as honest as we possibly can be and to use the courts and to use our campaign to get to the bottom of counting every vote. And that’s meant we’ve literally deployed our staff to all 159 counties.

What we have also tried to do is be direct about what happened. And we’ve had folks from Dan Rather to Joe Scarborough to many others nationally, and tens of thousands of folks in state, with over 25,000 folks calling our hotline, say they are very concerned, count every vote.

Because I think part of what I always want to emphasize, especially in these national conversations, is what we experienced here on the ground during early vote and on Election Day, with these extraordinarily long lines, and then people finally getting to the front of the line and then being told that they weren’t on the rolls or that they had to vote a provisional ballot or we literally had husband/wife pairs who finally made it to the front only to be told they only had one provisional, which who wanted to vote?

They were so ill-equipped to be – to do this election. I – this is on Kemp. And Kemp used his secretary of state’s office as an arm of the campaign. It’s just really not in dispute.

JACKSON: I’ve gotta let you go Lauren, but before I do, just to be clear here, though, you’re talking about your concerns, but I did ask about the rhetoric and the language that is being used around this. Is it fair, based on that answer, to say you’re comfortable with the rhetoric and where the tone is on this? Yes, no?

GROH-WARGO: I’m comfortable with what our campaign is doing.

JACKSON: Okay.

GROH-WARGO: And that is a very clear effort really exposing these issues. Because here’s the deal, whatever happens with our campaign, we’ve got to fix the system here in Georgia.

JACKSON: Got it, Lauren Groh-Wargo, thank very much for coming on. I appreciate it.

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