Stacey Abrams, Biden blame planning problem for lack of speech on voting rights

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Abrams, who used his 2018 gubernatorial loss to Republican Brian Kemp to elevate the franchise as an issue and is running for governor again in 2022, has a scheduling conflict, said a spokesperson at CNN.

And Biden, when asked that Abrams would not attend the event as he left the White House to travel to Georgia, also cited a timing issue.

“I spoke to Stacey this morning. We have a great relationship,” said the president. “We have mixed our schedules. “

Biden and Abrams have been close for a long time. When then-candidate Biden was looking for a running mate, the Georgia Democrat was on the short list of women he considered.

But the fact that arguably the Democratic Party’s foremost voting rights advocate – someone who founded Fair Fight Action, an organization that campaigns to protect voters across the country, after his defeat in 2018 – will not be not present at the president’s speech on voting rights in his own state seemed questionable to some Democrats.

And Republicans have already jumped on Abrams who is not attending the Biden event.

“It’s very interesting that Stacey Abrams has a conflict and can’t join it,” Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, said on a call with reporters Tuesday. “I think we all know what this conflict is. Those are the terrible numbers from the Joe Biden poll.”

Abrams’ absence was made even more striking after several voting rights groups said they also would not attend the speech because they would like to see action on voting rights legislation, not one. another speech from the president.

“I think time would be better spent for the president to go to the Senate, deliver a speech in the Senate and then make sure they vote on the legislation,” said Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of the Association of Latino Elected Officials. from Georgia, an organization that said it would not attend the event. “The work is not with our senators from Georgia that has to happen.… The work is with the rest of the Senate and Joe Biden knows the Senate well.”

Gonzalez continued, “He should be working in the Senate rather than coming to Georgia and telling us how urgent it is. We know on the ground how urgent it is.”

Abrams welcomed Biden with a tweet Monday – “Thanks, @POTUS, for refusing to flex until the job is done. Welcome to Georgia where we are doing a good job,” Abrams wrote – but she will be one of the only Democrats of Georgia not to be present.
Abrams announced her second gubernatorial election in December, an offer she focused on the fight for equality in Georgia, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and her work as a voting rights advocate.

Abrams’ entry into the race has largely cleared the field – his national recognition, fundraising prowess and personal history considered too hard for another Democrat to challenge. It’s a stark contrast to the Republican side, where the primary between Kemp, the incumbent president who angered Donald Trump after the former president lost Georgia in 2020, and former Senator David Perdue, who embraced Trump’s attacks on Kemp, should be heated and messy.

Senator Raphael Warnock, who like Abrams is on the ballot in 2022, flies from Washington, DC to Georgia aboard Air Force One with Biden, while the other state senator, Jon Ossoff, will attend field events in the state.

Five of the state’s Democratic members will also fly with Biden to Georgia, including Representatives Nikema Williams, Sanford Bishop, Lucy McBath, Carolyn Bourdeaux and Hank Johnson.

The coronavirus pandemic also had an impact on the event, with a spokesperson for Fair Fight Action, the voting rights organization founded by Abrams, telling CNN that the group has “temporarily suspended all meetings and events. in person due to Covid “.

While Fair Fight Action said they were “grateful that the White House continues to discuss voting rights” and “look forward to President Biden and Vice President Harris demanding that we reinstate the Senate and pass the law on the Freedom to Vote and Promotion of the Voting Rights of John Lewis. Act ”, they“ also support Georgian organizations that have worked tirelessly at the local level and have made it clear that they will not be attending the President’s speech tomorrow. “.

James Woodall, Georgia State President NAACP, another organization that will not attend Biden’s speech, said Abrams was not in attendance because she “has a whole state to cover” when she identifies himself as governor and “this trip was scheduled for the last minute, and I don’t think it was communicated to anyone here at the state level until the last minute.”

Woodall has said he would rather see Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and the Senators who travel with Biden to Georgia and stay in Washington, DC, to pass voting rights legislation, not to talk about it in his state. origin.

“It’s not us saying, ‘We don’t like him, we oppose him’ or any of those things. We’re just demonstrating the urgency of what it takes to get this through.” Woodall said, arguing that it’s time for Biden to stop using the Presidential Intimidation Chair in the States and use it instead with the Senate members standing in the way.

“We have already seen it from this administration when it comes to building back better. We have already seen it when it comes to infrastructure, ”he concluded. “We have to see it with voting rights.”

With Biden’s Build Back Better plan largely stuck in the Senate, many in Washington argued it was time for the administration to focus on voting rights. That pressure has intensified in recent months as stricter election laws passed by Republicans are put in place across the country.

The current focus is on two measures – the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Advancement of Voting Rights Act – which would both create national voting standards and restore aspects of the Voting Act. voting rights.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday that voter suppression laws coming into force across the country were “driven by the big lie” that former President Donald Trump was the true winner in 2020 and that “they reflect some of the darker chapters. in our history. ”Georgia is one of the states Trump has falsely claimed to have been stolen from him.

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