Stacey Abrams on the Israel-Hamas war, Biden’s 2024 bid and her political future

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams concedes to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp

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Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams concedes to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp

Stacey Abrams joined other Democrats in calling for increased humanitarian aid for Palestinian civilians in the escalating war between Israel and Hamas, though she didn’t echo other liberal figures in her party who warn the conflict could endanger President Joe Biden’s reelection.

In an extensive interview that aired Sunday on MSNBC, the two-time Georgia gubernatorial contender said it’s too soon to determine whether the war in Gaza will depress Democratic turnout ahead of next year’s vote.

“I believe that the Muslim community recognizes just how horrific October 7 was,” she said of the “horrific” surprise attack by Hamas terrorists that killed more than 1,400 Israelis. “What they are asking for is recognition that there is a humanitarian crisis unfolding.”

She added: “I believe that this administration is capable of having that conversation in a thoughtful way. And I do not believe that you extrapolate from the heightened emotion and fear of today what will happen in a year.”

Biden is facing growing backlash from liberal Democrats over his steadfast support of Israel in the growing conflict, sharpening a rift within his party as Israel expands its ground invasion of Gaza, the home to 2.3 million people.

Moderate Democrats and Republicans generally praise Biden’s backing of Israel, while a coalition of younger and more liberal Democrats have demanded an immediate cease-fire or de-escalation of violence in Gaza.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia is among the Democrats who have called for a “humanitarian pause” to send relief into Gaza, while U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, the first Jewish senator in Georgia history, said he worries about a growing “acute humanitarian crisis.”

Some Democrats, meanwhile, have warned Biden will be punished at the ballot box next year for refusing to break with Israel or take more steps to help Gaza, where the Hamas-run health ministry said more than 9,700 have been killed.

Abrams wouldn’t say whether she backs a ceasefire, though she told “Inside with Jen Psaki” the U.S. should “be able to allow Israel to defend itself but also hold them accountable for the humanitarian cost of that defense.”

“And so I believe that a ceasefire is one of the tools that could be considered, but there has to be a humanitarian operation that does recognize that innocent civilians are paying the price for a terrorist organization’s actions.”

Here’s more of Abrams’ comments about the 2024 election and her own political future:


On the political implications of the indictments of former President Donald Trump:

“In politics, people have fairly hardened belief systems. And those who have seen the former president in action over the last seven years, they know who he is. I’m not certain that the outcome of this case itself will shift their beliefs. Because the question of whether you believe in him or whether you like what he did when he was in office – those are two very different dynamics. And there are those who may revile his behavior but celebrate his outcomes. And that’s the place where I think no one who shares my political values should get comfortable … We need to focus on what good we can get done, and not presume that a conviction is going to necessarily change the belief system of someone who really likes what he does.”

President Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams on Sunday, March 1, 2020, in Selma, Ala. Curtis Compton

On Biden’s reelection chances:

“I think President Biden has been an exceptional president. On a range of issues, he’s overperformed expectations. He’s navigated incredibly difficult circumstances. And he has shown he is willing to stand with the people of Georgia, the people of the country, to move the country forward. We have to remember what we’ve faced if we want to continue to build on the progress we’ve had. But we can’t ignore the fact that people’s lives are harder. And this is not because of the president. It is because of global issues and international challenges and market conditions and a whole host of things that don’t matter to you when you’re sitting at the kitchen table. ...

“We have to meet people where they are. They have baked in the successes they have seen. They need to know what’s next. And I think President Biden has done a good job of laying out what that can look like, and painting that picture.”

On the impact of a potential third-party presidential bid in Georgia:

“While I believe that if you can stand for office, and you are qualified, it is your right to do so, I think the structural nature of elections in the United States for the presidency tend to diminish the utility of a third party. I think that the satisfaction for President Biden is strong and high. … I have not seen that a third-party candidacy will have any real effect.”

On whether she’s ruled out another run for office:

“No. No, politics is a part of what I am and part of what I do. My approach is to do the work. Politics is one of the tools that I can use to do so. The work that I do, supporting small businesses and defending diversity, equity and inclusion … All of those are facets to get to what I believe in most importantly, which is that we should have the rights, the freedom to be successful. The freedom to dream of what can be. And politics is one of the tools that I can use, but for right now I’m focusing on some other things.”

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