WASHINGTON — In the Democratic party’s response to Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, Stacey Abrams cast both the president and the Republican party as out-of-touch.
“In Georgia and around the country, people are striving for a middle class where a salary truly equals economic security,” Abrams said. “But instead, families’ hopes are being crushed by Republican leadership that ignores real life or just doesn’t understand it.”
Abrams, who lost to Republican Brian Kemp in Georgia’s gubernatorial race last November, drove this point home by zeroing in on the recent partial government shutdown, which left 800,000 federal workers furloughed or working with delayed pay for 35 days.
“The shutdown was a stunt engineered by the president of the United States,” Abrams said. “One that defied every tenet of fairness and abandoned not just our people but our values.
Listen: Lawmakers respond to SOTU
Abrams went on to bludgeon Republicans on tax policy, health care agenda and inaction on climate change.
She reserved her sharpest criticism, however, for the Trump administration’s handling of immigration.
“We know bipartisanship could craft a 21st century immigration plan, but this administration chooses to cage children and tear families apart,” Abrams argued, referencing the controversy surrounding the White House’s family separation policy for apprehended illegal immigrants.
Democrats’ decision to tap Abrams is a relatively unconventional, particularly since she is not currently in elected office.
But while she may have lost her race in Georgia, she has nevertheless become a rising star in progressive politics.
Her defeat has been used by many within the Democratic party as a symbol of GOP efforts to undermine voting rights. Her supporters pointed out that Kemp declined to step down as secretary of state while waging his campaign, even though he was tasked with overseeing the election.
Abrams declined to directly relitigate the campaign, but emphasized her party’s concerns.
“Let’s be clear. Voter suppression is real,” Abrams said. “From making it harder to register and stay on the rolls, to moving and closing polling places, to rejecting lawful ballots — we can no longer ignore these threats to democracy.”
She also used the topic to take a subtle jab at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who recently said on the upper chamber’s floor that a national holiday on election days would represent a “power grab” for Democrats.
“We must reject the cynicism that says every vote cast to be counted is a power grab,” Abrams said.
“The foundation of our moral leadership around the globe is free and fair elections, where voters pick their leaders, not where politicians pick their voters,” she added.