The last time the Democratic party responded to a Donald Trump speech the optics were easily lampooned and the message fell flat. On Tuesday night, with Trump finally allowed to give his State of the Union speech after the temporary end to the partial government shutdown, the Democratic party changed things up a bit.
In early January, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer stood side-by-side to deliver a rebuttal to Trump’s insistence that congress funds a border wall on America’s southern border. But social media lampooned the speech and the words the Democrats delivered in response to Trump were largely lost in the immediate aftermath of the night. Their stonewalling of Trump and his eventual caving on the shutdown did follow, however, and it seemed unlikely that the party would make the same mistake when offering a rebuttal to Trump on Tuesday.
This time, the Democratic party chose Stacey Abrams to give the party’s official response. Abrams, who narrowly lost a bid for governor in Georgia last November, offered a passionate rebuke of Trump’s various policies and stressed the importance of expanding voting rights and other initiatives on Tuesday.
Abrams was critical of Trump’s various missteps with race as well.
She was also highly critical of the government shutdown that left hundreds of thousands of federal workers without paychecks for more than a month, all in an attempt to get Democrats to give Trump border funding. Another shutdown apparently looms if Trump doesn’t get what he wants, and on Tuesday Abrams accused the president of making workers’ “livelihoods a pawn for political games.”
Abrams is a strong speaker and echoed many hopeful Democratic messages we’ve seen in the past — offering that the strength of America is in diversity, not derision. The speech served as a way to criticize Trump but also reframe the conversation around politics in America, attempting to go past an “us vs. them” we’ve seen so often during the Trump era and at least try to look at the larger swath of Amercan people as a whole.
Abrams was praised by politicians and voters alike on Tuesday night, receiving praise Pelosi on Twitter as well as from former vice president Joe Biden on Tuesday night.
Abrams drew wide praise from others outside of political office as well.
Brit Hume didn’t seem to be a big fan, but even Fox News seemed to think Abrams did a good job.
Others remembered some of the more tone deaf rebuttals of the past.
Hayes called it the best speech he’d ever seen and pointed out how Abrams lacked the forced feeling that many of these speeches have had over the years, including the one the Democrats staged just last month.
Abrams used the moment to ask for help with her Fair Fight Action coalition, which aims to expand voting rights and end voter suppression in Georgia.