“There’s a big strain of thought among Republicans that President Trump is sabotaging this race. He’s done so much to be unhelpful to those candidates,” Allen said on “Squawk Box,” referring to GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.
“I talk to Republicans and they look at what’s happening, and they say, ‘You know, he must be thinking, ‘I want to send a message, If I’m not on the ballot, Republicans are in trouble,'” added Allen, a longtime political reporter in Washington.
U.S. President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump and Republican U.S. senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, arrive to attend a campaign rally, in Valdosta, Georgia, U.S., December 5, 2020.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
Allen’s comments come ahead of Tuesday’s crucial runoff elections, which will determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate. Loeffler is running against Democrat Raphael Warnock, while Perdue’s opponent is Democrat Jon Ossoff. Trump campaigned for Loeffler and Perdue earlier this month, and he is set to hold another rally in the state Monday.
Republicans need to win only one of the races to maintain a majority in the 100-seat Senate; the GOP currently holds a 50-48 advantage.
If both Democrats are victorious in Georgia, that would tip the scale in their party’s favor because Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would be the tie-breaking vote. It also would mean Democrats control both chambers of Congress, plus the White House after President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated Jan. 20. Biden defeated Trump in the Nov. 3 election, helped in part by his victory in Georgia. Biden was the first Democrat to win the state since 1992.
“Keeping a Republican majority in the Senate has been a priority for the President from the beginning,” Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement Thursday to CNBC. “He will be rallying voters to support Senators Perdue and Loeffler and warning that their opponents are leftist extremists who support higher taxes, the job-crushing Green New Deal, and amnesty for 11 million illegal aliens.”
Allen, who co-founded Politico before going on to launch Axios in January 2017, said Republicans had initially felt confident that Loeffler and Perdue would defeat their Democratic challengers. “Georgia, despite the president-elect winning there, is still pretty red, so Republicans said, ‘In the end, this could be fine.’ They’re no longer sure it’s fine, and a lot of that has to do with the president,” Allen said.
Trump has refused to concede the election to Biden and falsely claimed he lost the race to due massive voter fraud. He also has attacked numerous elected Republicans in Georgia, including Gov. Brian Kemp, for their handling of the election.
Trump also has been pushing Congress to increase stimulus checks to Americans to $2,000, holding up a $900 billion coronavirus relief package that contained $600 direct payments for days before ultimately signing it. He has continued his push for $2,000 checks, a proposal supported by Democrats that is not popular among Republicans in the Senate.
“Republicans look at it and they say, like everyday President Trump is saying something that either puts those candidates on the spot or makes some of those … voters who were maybe queasy about Trump anyway but are Republicans in their bones, like everyday he gives them a reason either not to come out or to decide to go the other way,'” Allen said.
CNBC reached out to the campaigns for Loeffler and Perdue, as well as the White House, for comment on Allen’s remarks.