Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday mocked President Joe Biden's appearance in Atlanta to speak on behalf of voting rights, noting that even top voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams, who lives there, didn't show up.
"Stacey Abrams helped Biden steal the 2020 Election in Georgia but now she won’t even share a stage with Joe," Trump said in a statement released through his Save America PAC.
"Stacey knows that Biden actually lost BIG in Georgia, and in the 2020 Presidential Election as a whole, and he’s been so terrible she now wants nothing to do with him," Trump said. "Even the woke, radical left realizes that Joe Biden’s Administration is an embarrassment!"
Trump has claimed he was the actual winner of the Georgia General Election and should have been awarded the state's 16 electoral votes. The official tally gave Georgia to Democrat Joe Biden with a slim 2,473,633-2,461,854 votes or 49.5%-42.2% in what has been a solid red state since 1992.
Georgia alone would not have given Trump re-election, but his legal team sought to overturn the Peach State along with several others in a bid for a second term, unsuccessfully claiming voter fraud.
Abrams might have had her own reasons for not showing up with Biden; she's running for governor and may need a coalition of Black voters, progressive Democrats and moderate white voters fed up with Biden's policies.
For Biden, it was an unexpected snub at a time when he faces mounting vulnerabilities, including skepticism from Black voters who elected him and now question his dedication to their priorities.
Biden and Abrams quickly sought to smooth over any damage. After an aide said late Monday that an unspecified scheduling conflict would prevent her from attending Biden's event, Abrams tweeted a welcome to Biden, saying the “fight for voting rights takes persistence” and thanking him “for refusing to relent until the work is finished.” And as he left the White House on Tuesday, Biden said he spoke to Abrams earlier in the day and that “we're all on the same page.”
“We have a great relationship," Biden said. “We got our scheduling mixed up."
Still, the moment speaks to a broader question Democrats across the country are facing at the outset of a critical election year: whether to appear alongside a president whose popularity is waning. That calculation is especially precarious for Abrams, who is running for governor in a state that was once a Republican stronghold but is now almost evenly split between the parties.
Biden in 2020 became the first Democrat to win Georgia since 1992, carrying the state by less than one quarter of a percentage point. Since the election, Biden's approval nationally has sagged.
Abrams' success could hinge on winning a coalition of Black voters, who are frustrated with inaction on issues including voting rights and police reform, and some white voters who have soured on Biden more broadly. That may give Abrams little incentive at the moment to appear too close to Biden.
“Not being in attendance because you have something to do is a way for you to not alienate the president, who’s the stand-in for the establishment wing of the party," said Emory University political scientist Andra Gillespie. "But it also shields you from criticism from progressives, who might be critical if it looked like she was accepting of a symbolic gesture that didn’t come with any substantive announcement.”
Georgia groups allied with Abrams demanded on Tuesday that Biden do more. In a statement, they called on the president to lay out “a specific, immediate timeline” on how he would push voting legislation through the Senate, telling Biden he “must demand a filibuster carveout” to allow voting legislation to pass with only a bare majority in the Senate. They also pressed him to specifically address how he would win support from Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who have been among the most vocal Democrats bucking changes to Senate rules.
“We are past the moment of simply calling for debate, or allowing the Senate to continue dithering: it is time for the president to demand and lay out a final plan to pass these bills and sign them into law,” wrote former Georgia NAACP President James Woodall on behalf of himself and five groups, including New Georgia Project Action Fund, which Abrams founded.
Woodall said the groups have had no communication with Abrams and had not asked her to skip the event.
“If she was there or not, I don’t know if that changes the speech,” Woodall said. "She has demonstrated where she stands on the legislation."
Instead, he turned the focus back on Biden, saying it would be a “failure of this administration” if the legislation doesn't pass.
The Associated Press contributed.
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