US President Donald Trump campaigned in Georgia for two senators at a rally that some in his party feared could end up hurting their chances by focusing on his efforts to reverse his own election defeat.
In his first rally appearance since he lost to Democrat Joe Biden in the November 3 presidential contest, the Republican Trump reminded the chanting crowd that he came to southern Georgia to persuade them to vote Republican in runoffs on January 5.
But he quickly turned to his repeated claims, made without evidence, of widespread fraud in the presidential election.
"They cheated and rigged our presidential election but we'll still win it. And they are going to try to rig this election too," Trump told the crowd in Valdosta, who chanted "We love you!" and "Four More Years!"
He repeated his attacks on Republicans who have refused to back him, including Georgia's governor, Brian Kemp. Earlier on Saturday, Trump phoned Kemp and pressured the governor on Twitter to take further steps to help him overturn the election results.
The outgoing president's claims of widespread voter fraud have been rejected by state and federal officials across the country, and his campaign's numerous legal challenges have almost all failed.
Biden was the first Democratic presidential candidate to win in Georgia since 1992. Statewide recounts, including a painstaking review by hand of some 5 million ballots, turned up no significant irregularities.
The January runoffs pit two Republican senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, against well-funded Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, seeking to capture a state that has not elected a Democratic senator in 20 years.
The races will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate. Democrats, who already have the majority in the House of Representatives, need to win both seats to control the Senate. If Republicans win one seat, they will retain their majority and be able to block much of Biden's legislative agenda.
Biden said he would visit Georgia to campaign for the Democratic candidates but did not give a timetable for his trip.