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Raffensperger Says Faith And Past Personal Tragedies Helped Him Endure Difficult Election

ATLANTA, Ga. (CNN) – Georgia Secretary of State Brett Raffensperger has been called a RINO - a Republican In Name Only – by President Donald Trump, for pushing back against the President's unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud in the weeks following the election.

But for Raffensperger, calls for his resignation by both Georgia U.S. senators, threats against him and his family, and a few fiery insults from Trump including a claim that the Georgia's election was rigged, failed to disrupt his message that Georgia's election was secure. Despite the insults and threats from Trump's supporters, the Republican secretary of state still supports the President, saying, "A lot of times it's bigger than the person, it's really a philosophy."

Raffensperger's faith and his experience dealing with personal tragedies helped him weather the difficult election season, he told CNN's Amara Walker in an interview that aired Thursday on "New Day."

"Well, I really say that, you know, my faith really is part of me. It's part of who I am, I guess, it becomes part of your character. It's just sewn in, and one of the threads of your total human personhood that you have," he said. "It's part of me and so we lean into it."

Raffensperger, who explained that his late son struggled with -- among other things -- addiction and a cancer diagnosis, said the experience of navigating that personal tragedy similarly helped him this year. Raffensperger's son died of a Fentanyl overdose.

"Obviously, we have been prepared," he said, referring to himself and his wife, Tricia. "I think the challenges that you go through in life, you know, they can make you bitter, they can make you better."

Elected in 2018, Raffensperger, a soft-spoken businessman and former Georgia state lawmaker, was thrust into the national spotlight in recent weeks as Trump sought to overturn the election results in the state, which was won by President-elect Joe Biden.

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Georgia, which Biden won by more than 12,000 votes. Voters cast nearly 5 million votes statewide.

Besides the state's Republican U.S. senators have called for Raffensperger's resignation, the Republican governor publicly pressured him to investigate groundless charges of a fraudulent election and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham called him directly to discuss how absentee ballots might be thrown out (though Graham has said he was merely asking about signature verification).

And though Raffensperger has been steadfast in his support of Trump and has said repeatedly he wishes the President won his state, his public rebuke of Trump's fraud claims have led the President to publicly criticize him.

Beyond the post-election political fallout, Raffensperger and his wife have also received death threats.

"Tricia got the first ones. For some reason they targeted her. I think the first one was 'tell Brad to step down,' you know, and that type of thing," he said. "But then they've just really, you know, ramped up, and then went to stage two, and they just got vulgar and rude."

He continued: "Then I got stuff, you know, insulting me. And also, you know, you know threats in it..."

Pressed by Walker on his continued support for Trump, Raffensperger pointed to his political philosophy. He demurred when asked if he thought the President shares his values of civility, compassion and integrity, saying simply: "Well, I really don't know. I just know that at the end of the day, my job is managing myself."

Though some Republicans have cast doubt on Raffensperger's political future -- with one GOP operative telling CNN last month that he wondered if the secretary will even run for reelection in two years -- he was clear during the interview that he's sticking around for another shot at his post.

"Absolutely," he said when asked if he'll be working to ensure a smooth election in 2024. "Because I'll be on the ballot."

©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. CNN contributed to the story.


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