Stacey Abrams’ star turn happened last month when she provided the Democratic response to Donald Trump’s State of the Union address (Marco Rubio sent me like a really nice tweet,” she said. “ ‘Hydrate before you give the speech’ ”). Although at the time the stage was set for her to tackle Trump one-on-one, Abrams said she mentioned his name twice, maybe three times.
During a conversation with PBS NewsHour’s Yamiche Alcindor on Monday morning at SXSW, Abrams emphasized she wants the Democratic field in 2020 to take a similar approach and not get fixated on Trump.
“Any presidential campaign that focuses on trying to out-Trump Trump is destined for failure,” said Abrams, who narrowly lost the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial race she and many others claim was rife with voter suppression. “I don’t want us to elect the best bully. I want us to elect the best person.”
She added later: “You can respond to someone’s behavior without adopting his behavior to inform your response….He is someone who learned his political style from Insult the Comic Dog.”
Abrams herself has been rumored as a presidential candidate in 2020. She did not hint this morning at joining the other 14 candidates who have announced or formed exploratory committees, but she re-emphasized a passage in her soon-to-be released book that 2028 would be the earliest she feels ready to be president.
In a wide-ranging discussion at the Austin-set fest about race, politics and voter suppression, Alcindor asked point-blank whether Abrams considered Trump to be racist.
“Yes. He’s racist. I think he’s xenophobic. I think he’s homophobic,” she said. “I think he has disdain from anything [he considers] different from the norm.”
But Abrams often tried to steer the conversation away from Trump. She started talking about her dating life and she noted at one point she felt like she was talking to Oprah. She said she once tried to enlist a dating service, only to hear the service could not take her on unless she lost weight.
“I’m not going to date anyone who sees me as less than,” Abrams said. “I am smart. I am vaguely funny and I am a great conversationalist.”