Stacey Abrams delivered a scathing Democratic rebuttal to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, saying the hopes of American families are being “crushed” by Republican political leadership.
“In Georgia and around the country, people are striving for a middle class where a salary truly equals economic security,” the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate said. “But instead, families’ hopes are being crushed by Republican leadership that ignores real life or just doesn’t understand it.”
Trump, who continues to garner headlines over a myriad of alleged misdeeds, misstatements and the division that’s enveloped the country since he took office, called for bipartisanship in his address. He claimed outstanding records on jobs and the economy and America’s global standing.
Abrams, who was once the Democratic leader in the Georgia House of Representatives, dismissed those claims.
“We may come from different sides of the political aisle, but our joint commitment to the ideals of this nation cannot be negotiable,” she said.
Abrams railed against Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over the recent government shutdown, noting the missed paydays and the struggles of more than 800,000 federal workers who could face yet another shutdown in just a few weeks because Trump wants to build a $5.7 billion wall on the southern border.
“Just a few weeks ago, I joined volunteers to distribute meals to furloughed federal workers,” Abrams said. “They waited in line for a box of food and a sliver of hope since they hadn’t received a paycheck in weeks. Making their livelihoods a pawn for political games is a disgrace.
“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.
She also noted McConnell’s recent verbal assaults on a House Democratic bill to make Election Day a federal holiday, which he has labeled a “power grab.”
“This is the next battle for our democracy, one where all eligible citizens can have their say about the vision we want for our country,” Abrams said. “We must reject the cynicism that says allowing every eligible vote to be cast and counter is a ‘power grab.’”
The response is a tradition undertaken by a representative of the president’s opposing party, who gives a speech immediately after the address to rebut claims made by the president. Abrams was the first Black woman to deliver a party’s formal response.
The first rebuttal was delivered by Republican Sen. Everett Dirksen and Rep. Gerald Ford in response to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1966 State of the Union address. Since 2011, there have been responses in English and one in Spanish given by a separate speaker.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra gave the Spanish address this year.
The address has usually been given by a member of Congress or a sitting governor, making Abrams an intriguing choice given she doesn’t currently hold a political office. Since losing her gubernatorial bid, Abrams has said she is open to running for political office again.
Only one other time has an elected official not holding statewide or federal office given their party’s response: Elizabeth Guzman, a Democratic member of the Virginia House of Delegates, delivered the Spanish-language response for Democrats in 2018.