Abrams narrowly lost to Republican Brian Kemp in last year’s race for Georgia governor after a campaign of questionable antics by her opponent, who was repeatedly accused of voter suppression and made a last-minute allegation of hacking — without evidence — against Georgia Democrats. She will respond to Trump’s speech, now set for February 5, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office confirmed on Tuesday. MSNBC’s Chris Hayes was the first to report the news.
The response to the president’s State of the Union address is typically a tough spot to be in for any politician.
As Vox’s Andrew Prokop wrote in 2016, opposition parties have been trying to figure out how to effectively craft a good State of the Union response for decades, and most of the time, it doesn’t pan out. Remember Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) 2013 response where he leaned over to take a sip of water? Or then-Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s widely panned 2009 speech? Or Bill Clinton’s 1985 response to Ronald Reagan, which is often mentioned as one of the worst political speeches in history?
But last year, Democrats seemed to get it right, at least more than usual, with the response to Trump’s address delivered by Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA). Kennedy struck an Obama-esque note and was widely applauded, especially by Democrats.
Abrams is a rising star in the Democratic Party
Abrams, who will likely seek to match and outdo Kennedy’s 2018 success, is a former minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives and fierce voting rights advocate. She declined to concede immediately after the November 6 election, insisting that every vote be counted.
After the 2018 election, Abrams launched Fair Fight Action, a group dedicated to election reform and voting rights. She has made clear she plans to run for office again, and Politico reports that Democrats are pushing for her to run in Georgia’s 2020 Senate race. According to CNN, Schumer called Abrams three weeks ago to discuss the idea of her delivering the State of the Union response, and she accepted.
The lead-up to this year’s State of the Union has been unusual. Because of the partial government shutdown, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called off the original date for the address — January 29 — until the shutdown was over. Now that Trump and Congress have struck at least a temporary deal, the event is back on for February 5.