Stacey Abrams’s shocking snub of Biden, Harris signals possible 2024 aspirations
“Stacey has a plan, and it’s only a surprise to people who haven’t paid attention. She plans to become the first Black woman governor in the United States next year. And then run for president in 2024 if Biden does not, or in 2028 if he does.” — Newsweek, November 2021
The quote comes from “an adviser who asked not to be identified to speak freely about her thinking.”
Fast-forward to Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022. President Biden and Vice President Harris visited Abrams’s home turf of Georgia to push their “voting rights” legislation, which is already on life support. Democrats — especially on the increasingly powerful far-left — are demanding the filibuster be blown up to pass said legislation.
But even if that did occur, the Blue Team still has only 48 of the 50 votes needed to pass the bill in the Senate, with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) wisely withholding support.
It is stunning, to the point of disturbing, that the president and most of his party are focused on voting rights when the subject isn’t on the minds of most Americans. A recent AP poll shows that 66 percent of Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction. (The number was just 49 percent when Biden took office.)
But the rubber truly meets the road when those surveyed are asked what the government needs to prioritize moving ahead in 2022: 68 percent said the economy, which is experiencing 40-year high in inflation. Voting generated just 6 percent.
No matter: With no Build Back Better legislation to sign into law and everything from inflation and COVID-19 cases to violent crime continuing to skyrocket; with education becoming a huge negative for Democrats (See: Virginia elections, 2021) and the border crisis continuing while Afghanistan is run by terrorists (again), the Biden-Harris administration is doing whatever it takes to appease the Squad wing of the Democratic Party by attempting to ram through this voting bill — the filibuster, Constitution and states’ rights be damned.
In order to apply maximum pressure and gain maximum media attention for the Georgia visit, Biden-Harris needed the presence and support of Abrams, the Democrats’ most high-profile voting rights activist. But out of nowhere, she pulled out, citing a scheduling conflict and only offered support via Twitter.
Uh-huh. Because when the president and vice president come to visit to push your signature issue, there are more important things to attend to.
So why the snub? One reason is that even before completing one year in office, Biden and Harris are toxic to members of their own party. A December Hill/Harris-X poll found that 37 percent of Democrats don’t want Biden to seek reelection, a remarkably high number so early into a first term. Most voters overall don’t want Biden to run, including nearly 6-in-10 independents. And some of the harsh criticism is now on the record, a real sign of Biden’s weakness within the ranks.
“We do not need any more speeches, we don’t need any more platitudes,” James Woodall, former president of the N.A.A.C.P. of Georgia, told the New York Times this week. “We don’t need any more photo ops. We need action, and that actually is in the form of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, as well as the Freedom to Vote Act — and we need that immediately.” Needless to say, Woodall and the NAACP of Georgia also declined to join the president and vice president on Tuesday.
Corbin Trent, co-founder of the progressive No Excuses PAC, was even more blunt in an interview with Politico.
“[Biden’s] deeply unpopular. He’s old as shit. He’s largely been ineffective, unless we’re counting judges or whatever the hell inside-baseball scorecard we’re using. And I think he’ll probably get demolished in the midterms. People will smell opportunity, and D.C. is filled with people who want to be president.”
Trent is a former communications director for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).
The prospect of an 81-year-old Biden on the campaign trail is a disconcerting one to many Democrats, who already know that the House will be firmly in Republican hands come November. And if Biden-Harris got so little done despite controlling the House, Senate and Oval Office, what will this presidency look like after a wipeout in the midterms?
More importantly, will the revolt and discord among Democrats be so strong that Biden is either primaried or pressured not to run altogether?
The Democratic bench is as weak as it has ever been. Kamala Harris — at 32 percent approval in a recent USA Today poll — is not the answer. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg? Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)? Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)? Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.)? To quote John McEnroe: You cannot be serious! Hillary Clinton is an interesting wild card, but she’s no spring chicken anymore, either. She’s also lost her last two runs for the White House.
Which leaves Abrams, 48, as a potential bridge to the future for Democrats. Does she continue to insist that her election for Georgia governor was stolen from her? That it was “rigged“? Of course. But unlike Trump’s claims, Abrams is praised by most of the media for her rhetoric.
Abrams will first have to win her Georgia gubernatorial race later this year, with her Republican opponent yet to be decided. (Incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp and Trump-backed challenger David Perdue are in a dead heat.) Regardless of whom she faces, another gubernatorial loss would end any hope for Abrams 2024. Probably.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris visited Georgia to push the Democrats’ agenda on voting rights. They got blown off by those who supported them in 2020 in the process. The year isn’t even two weeks old, and chaos within the party is well underway.
Chaos ultimately is a ladder.
And Stacey Abrams — the architect of sowing doubt in elections — ironically appears to be a prime candidate to make a climb to the top of her party.
Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist.