Stacey Abrams is the 45-year-old Democrat who lost the 2018 Georgia governor’s race in an election she described as “rotten and rigged,” due to voter suppression policies undertaken by her Republican opponent Brian Kemp, as NBC News reported. Kemp, as state elections administrator, had control over the voting process. Now, Abrams says she is considering a run for the Democratic 2020 presidential nomination. And Abrams has opened her potential campaign with a “blistering” characterization of Donald Trump.
“He is a racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, homophobe who has diminished our sense of cohesion as a nation,” Abrams told The Washington Post, in an interview published on Saturday. “Regardless of where a president stood on issues, there has always been at least a veiled attempt at some sense of national unity.”
Of a field that now numbers into double-digits, only four have labeled Trump himself a racist. Senators Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar have said in interviews that Trump is “racist,” according to the Associated Press. Senator Bernie Sanders has labeled Trump “a racist” in campaign speeches, and another Senator, Elizabeth Warren, has condemned Trump as “a racist bully.”
On Thursday, Abrams met privately in Washington, D.C., with another prospective Democratic candidate, former vice president Joe Biden, to discuss the prospects of a presidential run, according to CNBC.
While not directly labeling Trump a “racist,” Biden, in a recent speech, said that the country must “root out… the systematic racism that most of us whites don’t like to acknowledge even exists,” as quoted by ABC News.
Other Democratic candidates have stopped short of referring to Trump himself as “racist,” according to the AP report. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, the only African-American male candidate so far in the Democratic field, has said only that Trump uses “bigoted language.” Harris is the only African-American woman in the race, while Abrams would be the second, were she to declare her candidacy.
Former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro has also hedged on applying the term “racist” to Trump, saying only that Trump “has contributed to more racial strife in this country.”
But will labeling Trump a “racist” help or hinder Democratic candidates politically as they campaign for the 2020 nomination? One longtime political analyst, Ronald Brownstein of CNN, asked on his Twitter account whether calling Trump a “racist” may be, in effect, a requirement for the Democratic field.
“Can/should anyone win the D 2020 nomination w/out being that direct about Trump’s open appeals to racial/cultural backlash?” Brownstein wrote.