First lady Jill Biden to appear at Abrams fundraiser

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

First lady Jill Biden will speak at an Atlanta fundraiser for Stacey Abrams’ campaign on Friday night, the White House announced.

It is the most significant involvement from President Joe Biden’s administration thus far in the Georgia governor’s race. Abrams, the Democratic nominee, is trailing in the polls behind Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.

Abrams has sought help from the White House, saying last week that her campaign anticipates “having folks from the Biden administration, including the president himself, if he can make it.” She has also emphasized her support for the president despite his low approval ratings in Georgia; the latest University of Georgia poll pegged Biden’s approval at 38%.

Abrams told reporters Thursday that she’s excited to be with Jill Biden “because she brings both a voice and a gravity to the issues we face in the state.”

“I want to be a partner to the White House, not in opposition to it,” Abrams said, “because billions of dollars are coming to the state because of Joe Biden’s leadership, because of the leadership of (Sens.) Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff and our Democrats in our congressional delegation.”

Friday’s event will not be open to the public. It will be held shortly before Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker meet in their first and likely only televised debate.

Abrams’ approach to Biden is a contrast to Warnock, who has emphasized his work across the aisle with Republicans more than his ties to the president. Walker has asserted he’s voted “lockstep” with Biden, a message the GOP contender is expected to emphasize at the debate.

Many Democrats in Georgia and other states are “trying to distance themselves from the president by touting their independence” as their opponents attempt to brand them as his lackeys, said Nathan Price, a University of North Georgia political scientist.

“However, Abrams may feel like this is a risk worth taking if it helps energize her base,” he added.

Greg Bluestein contributed to this report.