Norma, from the neighbouring county, Butts, was also waiting to see Loeffler. A soft-spoken mother of five and grandmother to eleven, she was in town with her husband, a retired Delta Air Lines employee who had just recovered from COVID. She shared many of Matthew’s concerns, both about lockdowns (which she and her husband both oppose) and supposed election fraud.
“Every American should have the right to have a fair election. We don’t mind losing, we just want to know that it was fair and that it was legal,” she said. “I’m disappointed it hasn’t been properly investigated.”
She told us she was worried about the “socialism that’s coming in from the Democrats… They don’t want freedom of speech, they don’t want border security, and they want to take the guns away from us.
“We don’t want to be restricted, we don’t want to be told how to live every aspect of our lives. We have the greatest country in the world and I want it to stay that way.”
Norma, Matthew and the scores of other people waiting for Loeffler outside McDonough’s Gritz Family Restaurant were not disappointed. First up after the town’s mayor was Kristi Noem, governor of South Dakota and a rising star in the Republican Party.
Noem has shot to acclaim among the Republican faithful this year largely thanks to her refusal to shut down South Dakota, or take even basic precautionary measures to tackle the spread of COVID in her state. Maskless, she hugged and shook hands and posed for photos with punters after the event.
“In 2020 we saw unprecedented attacks on our freedoms,” she told the crowd. “We saw the media tell us that we didn’t have freedom of speech. That if we didn’t say the right thing they would silence us, ban us, filter us.
“We saw attacks on our freedom of assembly. They told us we couldn’t meet with people, be with people we love. They attacked our religious freedom: telling us we couldn’t go to church.
“In South Dakota, I told my people I would trust them. That I would give them all the facts, the data, the science we have, and I was going to let them exercise personal responsibility.”
Turning to the choice facing Georgia voters on Tuesday, she told the crowd that the difference between Republican Loeffler and her Democratic opponent, Raphael Warnock, was about “all about our freedoms”.