GOP ad hits Abrams on health care and taxes, but doesn’t back it up

State Republicans are sharpening their attacks on Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams in a new television ad accusing her of plotting a government takeover of health care, planning an across-the-board tax increase, and advocating welfare and voting rights for illegal immigrants.

The ad began airing in the metro Atlanta TV market over the weekend.

The Georgia Republican Party is paying for the ad, which was approved by Brian Kemp, Georgia's secretary of state and Abrams' opponent in the Nov. 6 election for governor.

The plot

The ad draws heavily on clips of public appearances by Abrams, a former Democratic leader of the Georgia House who is vying to become the nation's first African-American female governor.

The ad opens with Abrams declaring that “this blue wave is going to change” Georgia, a state controlled by the GOP for more than a decade and labeled a “red state.”

“Liberal Stacey Abrams’ change — radical government takeover of health care and $13,000 in higher taxes for every Georgian,” the moderator states.

The ad cuts back to Abrams, who says “this blue wave is comprised of those who are documented and undocumented.”

The moderator then declares that Abrams plans to let “illegals vote and receive welfare benefits” and will “turn Georgia into a sanctuary state.”

Next, viewers see Abrams declaring: “When we change Georgia, we change the South. When we change the South, we change America.”

The ad ends with the moderator saying: “Liberal Stacey Abrams. Georgia can’t afford her radical change.”

The context

To back up the charge that Abrams plans a radical government takeover of health care, the ad cites an article that appeared in The Huffington Post on July 8, 2017, about Abrams and her then-Democratic primary opponent, former state Rep. Stacey Evans.

There's no reference to a government takeover of health care in the piece. It says both women favor Medicaid expansion, something current GOP Gov. Natha Deal has opposed and 33 states and the District of Columbia have approved. The piece also says Abrams considers Medicaid expansion a "starting point" on the path to "the availability of single-payer" health insurance.

On the claim she’ll support a $13,000-per-person tax increase, we found no reference to such a tax increase in the same 2017 Huffington Post piece cited previously. The party promised but did not deliver further documentation on this and other claims in the ad by close of business Monday.

Abrams discussed the “blue wave” and “documented and undocumented” at a recent campaign event with U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

“The thing of it is, the blue wave is African-American. It’s white, it’s Latino, it’s Asian-Pacific Islander, it is disabled, it is differently abled, it is LGBTQ, it is law enforcement, it is veterans,” Abrams told the crowd. “It is made up of those who’ve been told that they are not worthy of being here. It is comprised of those who are documented and undocumented.”

The response

Abigail Collazo, the director of strategic communications for the Abrams campaign, said Medicaid expansion, which an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll showed is supported by 73 percent of Georgians, is "not radical."

“Expanding Medicaid would cover nearly 500,000 more Georgians, save our rural hospitals and generate over 50,000 new jobs across the state — 60 percent of which will be outside of metro Atlanta,” she said. “Medicaid expansion is not a partisan issue. Governors from all across the political spectrum have expanded Medicaid — including Mike Pence in Indiana — and Georgia can do the same.”

She challenged all of the ad’s other claims and accused Kemp of taking her “words out of context to paint a misleading picture” of Abrams’ position on possible voting by illegal immigrants.

Collazo said Abrams brought up “documented and undocumented” workers, along with the LGBTQ community, in comments about an inclusive “blue wave” she sees coming.

Abrams has responded to Kemp’s distortion of her comments by saying that, as a lawyer, she has fought for voting rights but “never” suggested that anyone who is not legally registered be allowed to cast a ballot, her spokeswoman said.

Watch the ad

Take a look at previous ads in the governor's race.