From NBC's Lauren Appelbaum
On the final day of campaigning before Georgia voters choose the winner in the state's Senate runoff, Sarah Palin is offering a last-minute boost to incumbent Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss. At their first of four joint rallies this morning, Palin stressed the importance of the seat, telling supporters that Chambliss would help maintain "checks and balances" in a Congress and White House dominated by Democrats.
"Saxby doesn't just run with the Washington herd," Palin said in Augusta this morning. "And with one party in control of the House and the Senate and the White House right now, we need now more than ever public servants who will speak for themselves."
Although the state was briefly a target for the Obama campaign during the general election, Georgia supported the McCain/Palin ticket by a 52-47 margin. "More than two million of you here in Georgia gave us your vote on November 4th," Palin noted today. "We were honored to carry the state of Georgia. So now we need you to do it again tomorrow, Georgia."
Highlighting her family life in much the same way that she did during the presidential campaign, Palin painted the Georgia race as one with far-reaching consequences for the nation. "I am kind of selfishly looking at this to tell you the truth," she said. "It's not for just for Georgia. This is for folks in Alaska and in Hawaii and in Maine and in Washington state and Washington DC. I'm looking at this, you know, I'm a mom with five kids. This is for my kids and their future."
Many Republicans are hoping Palin will help to rally evangelicals and boost turnout for Chambliss in tomorrow's runoff election. Today, the former vice presidential candidate continued to assert that the Republican Party is not cowering but ready to lead - by presenting its own ideas and by working across the aisle.
"We are rebuilding. Republicans may be the opposition party today, right now, perhaps so. But that doesn't mean that we have to be the negative party," she said. "We have our own ideals to serve, and we should always look for ways to work cooperatively with the majority party to serve the common good, because America deserves no less than our greatest effort today."
Palin's appearance is an exclamation point for Chambliss at the end of string of GOP celebrities appearing on the Georgia senator's behalf. Former presidential candidates Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and Rudy Giuliani have stumped in the state since Nov. 4, and the party's defeated nominee appeared with Chambliss two weeks ago. Palin recounted McCain's visit today, saying, "Sen. McCain came back here because he understands that losing an election does not mean we have to lose our way. He is ready to carry on the good fight in Washington but he needs Saxby to help him do it."
President-elect Obama has not campaigned for Chambliss' opponent, Jim Martin, during this run-off, but Obama did record a radio ad for Martin's campaign. Actor/rapper Ludacris, a native of Atlanta, will rally supporters with Martin tonight.