Earlier this week, President Donald Trump went on the offensive against Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate for governor in the state of Georgia.
Abrams is in a tight battle with her Republican counterpart, Brian Kemp. Recent polling from the state shows that they are neck-and-neck with each other, according to reporting from WSB-TV. If neither candidate gets a majority of votes, the contest goes to a runoff election on December 4.
Trump on Thursday attacked Abrams, specifically her bona fides to lead the state. He argued that she was not “qualified” to be governor in his remarks, offering somewhat ambiguous reasons why without providing specific details:
“Take a look at her past. Take a look at her history. Take a look at what she wants to do and what she has in mind for the state. That state will be in big, big trouble very quickly. And the people of Georgia don’t want that.”
It’s fine for Trump to endorse Abrams’s opponent in the race — his preference is Kemp, and there’s no reason he shouldn’t promote him if Trump wants to. There are at least three problems with Trump’s questioning Abrams’s qualifications, however, as many users on social media have pointed out.
First, Abrams is more than qualified to serve. She’s a political leader of the Democratic Party in Georgia, having served several years as the minority leader in the state’s House of Representatives, according to a tweet from Daniel Dale, Washington D.C. correspondent for the Toronto Star.
Our #BigotPresident, continuing his theme of belittling the intelligence and competence of women of color, called @StaceyAbrams "not qualified." Abrams holds a law degree from Yale and has 17 years of political experience. https://t.co/8wFSl7n9V8 #VoteAbrams
— Democratic Coalition (@TheDemCoalition) November 2, 2018
Second, Trump’s claims that Abrams is not qualified to serve are hypocritical. He lambastes her as being someone who is unfit for the office, but as we’ve already pointed out, she has a degree from Yale Law School. For other individuals, that law degree was enough.
Trump and many others in his inner circle frequently touted Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh as qualified based partly on his time at Yale, according to reporting from Business Insider. And in this current election cycle, as a social media post from law student Denizcan Grimes points out, Trump touted Florida Republican candidate for governor Ron DeSantis as being qualified, based in part because of his Yale degree.
Finally, some have noted that a pattern is emerging with Trump attacking candidates and other individuals like Abrams, who is seeking to become the state’s first African American governor. As Jemele Hill states in a tweet she made this week, that pattern showcases disturbing — and potentially racist — sentiments from the president.
“Abrams isn’t qualified. LeBron isn’t smart. Maxine Waters has a low IQ,” Hill wrote, referencing other black Americans Trump has rhetorically attacked in the past. “Seems to be a theme here whenever the president attacks prominent people of color.”
Trump has a right to promote his preferred candidate over the one he doesn’t like. At the same time, however, he needs to be called out for it if he does so in ways that are disingenuous, or that provide false testimony on the character of the candidate he opposes.
Georgia voters don’t have to vote for Abrams necessarily — it’s their choice to consider who is best to serve versus who they think isn’t. But that choice should be made based on the facts about each candidate, not the prejudices of our commander-in-chief.
When the president suggests that Abrams is not qualified, it crosses a line that cannot go unchallenged. It’s wrong, blatantly hypocritical, and for some it appears racist.