The New York Times still loves Stacey Abrams, who delivered the official Democratic response to President Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night. She also lost the 2018 Georgia governor’s race to Republican Brian Kemp -- but not without making unsubstantiated allegations of voter suppression, cheered on by the newspaper.
Now, she’s on the path to the presidency, at least according to Times political reporter Astead Herndon’s “Supporters Nudge Democrat With High Aspirations to Aim Even Higher.” The online headline to his Thursday story: “Stacey Abrams Isn’t Running for President. Should She Be?” Here's Herndon:
Seconds into the Democratic response to President Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday evening, speculation took off about the political future of Stacey Abrams, the Georgia leader who was delivering the remarks on behalf of her party.
Leader of what? Abrams currently holds no office. Oops (click “expand”):
“Stacey Abrams should run for President,” tweeted Dan Pfeiffer, who was a senior adviser to former President Barack Obama, quickly garnering thousands of likes.
The flash of enthusiasm for Ms. Abrams came as no surprise to Georgia Democrats, who rallied behind her run to become governor there last year, which would have made her the first black women to lead a state. And her well-received speech Tuesday evening will most likely intensify the current efforts by national party leaders to recruit Ms. Abrams to run for Senate in 2020.
But some of her supporters and other Democrats are also asking whether she should be running for an even bigger position -- and why the clamoring has been louder for some white male politicians to run than for her.
Democrats are facing a rare, wide-open presidential nomination contest, and questions of ideology, tone and identity are already beginning to rattle a growing list of hopefuls who have been apologizing for past positions or statements. During her campaign last year and in her remarks Tuesday night, Ms. Abrams’s ability to articulate an uncompromising liberal message while also blending themes of unity and togetherness impressed both ardent leftists and Democrats more toward the political center -- a rare combination in such polarizing times.
But isn’t Abrams herself polarizing, with her unsubstantiated allegations that voter suppression cost her Georgia governorship. Conservative Ben Shapiro brought a perspective you didn't see in The Times, arguing that Abrams portrayed America as a “land rife with brutality and racism; a country steeped in a vicious history, struggling to overcome its own perverse DNA.”
A Times photo caption dovetailed with the Democrats' enthusiastic description of Abrams, the losing candidate in Georgia, as “a rising political star”:
The longing in some quarters for Ms. Abrams to run for president -- which comes more in hope rather than expectation -- comes as the Democratic presidential field is poised to balloon. The field, already the most diverse in history, could soon be adding new faces....
Herndon’s ideological weighting seems unbalanced in the following paragraph: “Centrists” like Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand? Gillibrand has a lifetime rating of 4 in the American Conservative Union's federal legislative rating system, with 100 being the most conservative. New senator Harris does not yet have a rating:
More liberal candidates such as Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Mr. Sanders have energized the party’s anti-Wall Street wing with their desire to rein in unchecked capitalism, but have upset social justice advocates in recent months with high-profile blunders on issues of race and identity. Candidates seen as more centrist, including Senators Kamala Harris of California and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, have run afoul of some liberals for their unwillingness to directly target large corporations and wealthy Americans in their economic policies.
When Abrams’ liberal bona fides are admitted, it’s in flattering fashion:
For Ms. Abrams’s backers, it’s not only her identity as a black woman that excites them, but that she ran a campaign in Georgia that was built on liberal promises such as expanding access to Medicaid and access to affordable college for in-state students. For Kimberly Peeler-Allen, a co-founder of Higher Heights, a political group focused on engaging black women, the party’s decision to select Ms. Abrams to speak Tuesday night was a step in the right direction.
Herndon ended by promoting Abrams as a kind of Goldilocks candidate, not too hot, not too cool, but just right:
As for Ms. Abrams, the crowd behind her was racially diverse and featured more women than men, and blended liberal priorities with bipartisan appeals.