- Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams delivered the Democratic Party’s response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night.
- Abrams, the first black woman to deliver the high-profile speech, was sharply critical of the Trump administration’s policies.
- Follow along with all of INSIDER’s coverage of the State of the Union here.
Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams gave the Democratic Party’s rebuttal to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night.
Abrams – the first black woman to deliver the address – drew national attention during her 2018 gubernatorial bid, which she narrowly lost to Republican Brian Kemp amid allegations of widespread voter suppression.
Abrams had harsh words for Trump and his administration’s policies on a host of issues, including education, healthcare, and immigration. And she blamed the recent record-long government shutdown on the president.
“The shutdown was a stunt engineered by the President of the United States, one that defied every tenet of fairness and abandoned not just our people – but our values,” she said.
The Democrat called the deeply partisan fight over voting rights “the next battle for our democracy,” condemning Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s claim that Democrats’ efforts to make voting easier are a “power grab.”
“Let’s be clear: voter suppression is real,” she 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.”
Abrams – the first black woman nominated to be governor of any state – refused to deliver a traditional concession speech when she withdrew from her race 10 days after Election Day. Since then, she’s founded a nonpartisan voting rights group called Fair Fight.
“To watch an elected official who claims to represent the people in this state baldly pin his hopes for election on suppression of the people’s democratic right to vote has been truly appalling,” she said during that speech.
In addition to rebutting Republicans, Abrams presented a progressive vision for the country that embraces immigrants but secures the border, enacts gun control, provides universal healthcare, and fights climate change.
“Compassionate treatment at the border is not the same as open borders. President Reagan understood this. President Obama understood this,” she said. “Americans understand this and the Democrats stand ready to effectively secure our ports and borders.”
Stacey Abrams: “Let's be clear: Voter suppression is real. 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.” #SOTU https://t.co/OTAqkas3x8 pic.twitter.com/Bcx4VE7ujo
— CNN (@CNN) February 6, 2019
Abrams delivered her speech from IBEW Local 613 union hall in southwest Atlanta, paying tribute to the labor group that gave her an early endorsement during her gubernatorial run. The address gave her the most prominent national platform she’s had.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) February 6, 2019
Abrams also used the platform to call out racism.
“We fought Jim Crow with the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, yet we continue to confront racism from our past and in our present – which is why we must hold everyone from the very highest offices to our own families accountable for racist words and deeds – and call racism what it is. Wrong,” she said.
Republicans slammed the speech and Abrams, calling her a “failed” politician.
“With extreme policies and an anti-free market agenda, Stacey Abrams was rejected by her home state of Georgia last November. Tonight, Abrams’ speech for a national audience replayed the same broken ideas that capsized her failed campaign,” Republican National Committee spokesperson Ellie Hockenbury said in a statement.
Abrams’ selection was something of a contrast with last year’s choice, Rep. Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts, who delivered his speech from a vocational high school in a blue collar community in his home state.
The speech drew praise from a number of Democratic and liberal figures.
“Stacey Abrams gave the best response to the state of the union from either party in decades,” Rebecca Katz, a Democratic strategist and former adviser to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, told INSIDER. “Her story, her words and her delivery were pretty close to perfect.”
“Stacey Abrams should run for President,” tweeted Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama.
Abrams even won from conservatives for her speech.
“I disagree with her points, but she was wayyyyyy better than that Kennedy guy last year,” conservative commentator Erick Erickson tweeted, adding that he gave her an “A for delivery.”