FILE - In this May 20, 2018, file photo, then-Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams participates in a debate in Atlanta. Abrams is an unusual and historic choice to deliver the opposition response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union, but Democratic leaders are signaling their emphasis on black women and on changing states like Georgia. Abrams will be the first black woman to deliver an opposition response.
Photo: AP Photo/John Amis, File
Photo: AP Photo/John Amis, File

Stacey Abrams readies nationwide roll-out for SOTU response 

‘May the force be with me’ 

The speech is going through final edits. The social media blitz is ready. And a string of watch parties around the nation are in the works. 

Stacey Abrams is preparing for the biggest speech of her political career on Tuesday night when she gives the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address. 

Three months separated from her narrow defeat in the race for governor, the Atlanta Democrat was selected to be the first black woman – and the first Georgian – to deliver the marquee speech.

More: Abrams prepares to counterpunch Trump’s State of Union 

She epitomizes the national party’s tilt toward more liberal stances on deep cultural divides, like guns and abortion, while also promoting a message of bipartisanship centered on expansion of Medicaid and reducing barriers to vote

Abrams and her aides are tightlipped about the speech – even the metro Atlanta setting where it will be filmed is a closely-guarded secret – but she’s expected to lace her remarks with biographical details about her upbringing in Mississippi and Georgia and her passion for expanding voting rights. 

What’s not expected to come up is the possible 2020 challenge to U.S. Sen. David Perdue, a wealthy first-term incumbent fiercely loyal to Trump. Abrams has long wanted to be Georgia governor, but is said to be increasingly open to a bid for Senate in two years – and is under intense pressure to run

Podcast: Georgia and the State of the Union address.

While only about 10 minutes long, Tuesday’s speech will showcase her to a broader audience. The voting rights group she started shortly after her defeat – Fair Fight Action – planned parties across Georgia and more than a dozen states for her supporters.

There are events in each early-voting state in next year’s presidential primary – Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina – along with parties in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and New York. 

The event in Phoenix will feature the leader of the state Democratic party. The one in Washington will bring Rep. Hank Johnson, who is boycotting Trump’s speech. And current and former lawmakers will attend the watching parties in Georgia. 

Her speech is a golden opportunity – and also suffocating pressure not to squander the opportunity as some predecessors have done with gaffes or bungled optics. On Twitter last night, she thanked Rep. Joe Kennedy, Sen. Marco Rubio and former Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for their advice. 

“May the force be with me ...” she tweeted

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.