‘Georgia night?’ State Democrats get national attention at DNC

Georgians seized a share of the national attention on the second day of the Democratic National Convention, as party leaders from past, present and future got a turn in the spotlight.

Among the array of speakers featured Tuesday were some of Georgia’s leading Democratic figures, each pressing the case for Joe Biden over President Donald Trump.

The virtual program started with an ensemble keynote featuring some of the nation’s top up-and-coming politicians, among them state Rep. Sam Park of Lawrenceville, and capped by Stacey Abrams, the party’s 2018 gubernatorial nominee.

“This nation belongs to all of us, and in every election we choose how we will create a more perfect union,” Abrams said. “Not by taking sides, but by taking stock of where we are and what we need. This year’s choice could not be more clear.”

Then came former acting U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates, who was fired by Trump after 10 days in his administration for refusing to defend his travel ban. Speaking from an Atlanta office, she accused Trump of “trying to weaponize the Justice Department” to help friends and attack enemies.

“His constant attacks on the FBI, the free press, inspectors general, federal judges — they all have one purpose: to remove any check on his abuse of power,” she said. “Put simply, he treats our country like it’s his family business. This time, bankrupting our nation’s moral authority, at home and abroad.”

And former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, each addressed the audience in a pre-recorded video as a slideshow of images from Biden’s career and the 2020 campaign splashed across the screen.

“We need a president who respects our laws and the privilege of public service. Who reflects our values and cares about our people,” said Carter, who at 95 is the oldest living former president in U.S. history. “We need a president who will restore the soul of America.”

The striking contrasts in age and background of the Georgians reflected an overall theme of the night. The night’s speakers ranged from former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Republican, to U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the self-described democratic socialist on the Democratic Party’s left flank.

“Basically, tonight is Georgia night at the DNC,” said state party Chairwoman Nikema Williams, a congressional candidate who later stood beside a mural of the late John Lewis in Atlanta to represent the state in the roll call vote.

“From the cradle of the civil rights movement, and in the spirit of ‘good trouble,’ Georgia casts our 117 votes for our next president, Joe Biden,” she said.

Trump’s campaign pushed back, singling out Abrams and the other up-and-comers featured in the keynote as having “far left positions that are well outside the mainstream.” And state Republicans held events throughout Georgia this week promoting Trump’s economic approach and his response to the pandemic.

“The president is going to carry Georgia. There’s a clear silent majority,” Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler said at a campaign rally in Atlanta. “People who want law and order and the rule of law, but they also want economic opportunity and safety and security in their communities.”

The convention’s emphasis on Georgians is purposeful. Polls show a tight contest between Biden and Trump in Georgia, and Democrats hope to flip the state in a White House race for the first time since 1992. In recent weeks, Biden’s campaign has hired its first staffers in the state and launched an initial wave of TV ads.

Park, one of the former vice president’s outspoken supporters, laced his remarks with a reminder of Georgia’s rocky school reopening. He said teachers in “Gwinnett County, Georgia and across the country are being asked to return to the classrooms without a plan to keep them safe and parents are exhausted juggling full-time work and full-time child care.”

And Abrams, capping the keynote speech, cast the decision as a choice between a “leader who cares about our families or a president who only cares about himself.”

“We stand with Joe Biden because this isn’t just about defeating Donald Trump,” she said in a pre-recorded video from her Kirkwood home. “We are in this to win for America. So let’s get it done.”

Democratic National Convention: The Carters

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