Stacey Abrams, a star in the Democratic Party, admitted in a new interview that she believes questioning the legitimacy of systems, in the context of elections, is a necessary part of being an American.
What is the background?
Abrams is running to become the next governor of Georgia in 2022 after losing election to Gov. Brian Kemp (R) four years ago.
After losing in 2018, Abrams refused to concede and claimed that she had “won.” In the more than three years since the election, Abrams has maintained that the election was not fair — even describing it as "rigged" — and even reiterated last year that the election “was stolen from the voters of Georgia.”
Abrams believes that Kemp — who oversaw the election because he was secretary of state at the time — took actions prior to the election that ultimately changed the outcome. However, Abrams has also admitted, "I have no empirical evidence that I would have achieved a higher number of votes."
What did Abrams say now?
Speaking with Axios, Abrams was asked whether refusing to concede an election "emboldens former President Trump and his allies."
In response, Abrams endorsed questioning the legitimacy of "systems," a clear reference to elections in the context of the interview — but added a positive spin.
"I don't ever want us to be in a place as Americans where we cannot legitimately question and critique systems and try to make them better," she said.
The Georgia Democrat explained that she "will acknowledge the victor" of the 2022 Georgia gubernatorial election, then claimed, "I will always acknowledge the legal outcome of an election. I have never failed to do that."
In her interview with Axios, Abrams even claimed that her rhetoric about the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election and former President Donald Trump's rhetoric about the 2020 presidential election are different.
"What Trump has done is invalidate systems because he didn't like the personal effect," said Abrams after just admitting she believes questioning the validity of systems is important. "And he's provided no information or proof of his allegations.
"I should be held accountable for everything I say, be able to tie it to evidentiary facts. And that's what I've been doing. And that's what I'll continue to do," she claimed.
While mainstream media outlets like Politico publish stories drawing contrast between Abrams and Trump, Republicans in Georgia are already using Abrams' own words against her in the upcoming gubernatorial election.
Ryan Mahoney, an adviser to Brian Kemp's campaign in 2018, explained why ads against Abrams will prove effective.
"We've seen so many TV ads, so many digital ads, where candidates are stretching the truth. And I think the electorate realizes that. They know that not everything they see or hear now is fact checked or is valid," Mahoney told Politico. "And so when it's Stacey Abrams in her own words, it's a lot more believable, it goes a lot further and it's a lot harder for Abrams and her camp to dispute. And thankfully, for Republicans in Georgia, Stacey Abrams has spent a lot of time on TV since losing [the 2018] race."