Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was caught on a hot mic Thursday expressing some concern over Democratic prospects in Georgia in the final weeks before the midterm elections, but he remained hopeful about Pennsylvania after their nominee’s recent debate performance.
“The state where we’re going downhill is Georgia. It’s hard to believe that they will go for Herschel Walker,” Schumer said of the Republican Senate nominee, adding later, “But our vote, our early turnout in Georgia is huge, huge.”
Of Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s high-stakes debate performance against Republican Mehmet Oz, Schumer said: “It looks like the debate didn’t hurt us too much in Pennsylvania … so that’s good.”
The overheard comments came during a conversation among Schumer, President Joe Biden and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on the tarmac of Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, New York. Biden gave a speech in the state Thursday as part of his midterm closing message in which he painted Republicans as a threat to Americans’ pocketbooks.
Less than two weeks out from Election Day, Democrats are fighting to hold onto their narrow majority in the 50-50 Senate, where Vice President Kamala Harris has the tie-breaking vote. Both Georgia, which Democrats are defending, and Pennsylvania, which represents their best opportunity to flip a seat, are critical to that mission.
“That seat, we’re in danger in that seat. … We’ll see,” Schumer could be heard saying, although it’s unclear which seat he was referring to.
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The Democratic leader said his party was “picking up steam” in Nevada, where Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto is among the party’s most vulnerable incumbents.
The Georgia race was rocked this week by allegations from a woman who claims she was in a years-long romantic relationship with Walker. She said at press conference on Wednesday that he had pressured her into having an abortion in 1993. Walker, who has already been accused by a former girlfriend of encouraging her to have the procedure and then reimbursing her the cost, has denounced each claim as a related. CNN has not independently confirmed the first woman’s allegations. She has remained anonymous in public reports.
Most polling shows Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, who’s running for a full six-year term, with a modest lead over Walker in the final stretch of the campaign.
Abortion rights have been a flashpoint not only in Georgia, but in Pennsylvania, where Fetterman has looked to turn voters’ attention to Oz’s comments about the procedure in this week’s debate. The Republican said that “local politicians” should contribute to women’s medical decisions.
“You can’t afford to give a clown a vote on Roe v. Wade,” Fetterman told MSNBC’s Joy Reid on Thursday, adding that Oz’s comment showed “what he actually believes about abortion.”
But while Democrats immediately seized on Oz’s comments in their paid advertising, most of the post-debate attention was focused on the effects of Fetterman’s stroke.
“We wanted to be and thought it was important to be there. And we showed up,” the Democrat told Reid. “And getting knocked down, I always got back up. And, to me, that’s really at the essence of our campaign, is that we’re running for any Pennsylvanian that ever got knocked down that has to get back up. And that’s really what we’re running on.”
Recent polls in the Keystone State show a tight race.