Everything You Need to Know About Stacey Abrams' History-Making State of the Union Rebuttal
On Tuesday night, Donald Trump delivered his second State of the Union address as president. The speech was soundly criticized for being unorganized, inaccurate, and uninspiring. Following his speech, Democrat Stacey Abrams delivered a rebuttal for her party. Her speech was positive and precise, something akin to a verbal knife gliding through an undercooked steak. It lasted just 10 minutes — compared to Trump’s 90 minute address — but it’s the one that everyone is still talking about today.
Abrams was the first black woman to deliver the Democratic rebuttal — and for Abrams, making history is nothing new. Though she lost last year in the 2018 midterms, she came within 55,000 votes of being elected governor of the Republican stronghold of Georgia. She also got 85,000 more votes than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton got against Trump in 2016, and garnered more votes than any Democrat in the history of the state of Georgia in November.
In her remarks Tuesday night, the 45-year-old showed why she enjoyed so much success as Minority Leader of the Georgia House from 2011 to 2017: that she is both a progressive and a pragmatist. Her ability to be a chameleon for constituents is a reason why many believe Democrats won back control of the House in the 2018 midterms, and it’s why she was chosen to give the rebuttal to Trump. Many were impressed by Abrams' speech, some going so far as to say that her rebuttal was one of the best in history.
Matt Ford, a reporter at the New Republican, tweeted: “Stacey Abrams is going to win the next election that she's a candidate in.”
“Stacey Abrams achieved in a matter of minutes something Donald Trump failed to do in over an hour -- to embrace and give voice to the spirit and core values that make America great,” tweeted former Vice President Joe Biden. Valerie Jarrett, former senior adviser to President Obama, called Abrams' speech "movingly patriotic" and praised her "magnificently hopeful smile!"
Politicians and journalists weren't the only ones watching who were impressed, either.
In her speech, Abrams argued that all Americans should have economic opportunity and voting access, and called the recent partial government shutdown — the longest one in the country’s history — 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."
Abrams highlighted the importance of reaching across the aisle and working with members of the other party.
“I didn’t always agree with the Republican Speaker or Governor, but I understood that our constituents didn’t care about our political parties – they cared about their lives. So, when we had to negotiate criminal justice reform or transportation or foster care improvements, the leaders of our state didn’t shut down – we came together,” she said. “And we kept our word. It should be no different in our nation’s capital. We may come from different sides of the political aisle; but, our joint commitment to the ideals of this nation cannot be negotiable.”
Despite the calls to run for office, Abrams will likely not run run for president in 2020. However, she may run against incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue in the next election. There’s also a chance she could run again in the gubernatorial race in 2022.
During her speech, Abrams also highlighted a handful of progressive themes that Democrats think they can win on in 2020: health care, climate change, voter suppression, tax cuts and the middle class, immigration and gun safety.
"Families’ hopes are being crushed by Republican leadership that ignores real life or just doesn’t understand it," Abrams said. "Under the current administration, far too many Americans are falling behind, living paycheck to paycheck."
“From now on, our leaders must be willing to tackle gun safety measures and face the crippling effect of educational loans, to support educators and invest what is necessary to unleash the power of America’s greatest minds,” she said.
Additionally, Abrams stressed that she did not want Trump "to fail" but urged him to focus on "the extraordinary diversity that defines America."
"So even as I am very disappointed by the President’s approach to our problems, I still don’t want him to fail. But we need him to tell the truth, and to respect his duties and the extraordinary diversity that defines America," Abrams said.
Her powerful, history-making speech is an example of just that — and in just 10 minutes time, Abrams clearly challenged the president and his party to make the next move.