Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate and rising Democratic star, is expected to blast President Trump for the partial government shutdown in her response to the State of the Union address — calling the shutdown a “stunt” and its impact on federal workers a “disgrace.”
Abrams, who will make history Tuesday night as the first African-American woman to deliver a formal State of the Union response, released excerpts of her prepared remarks in advance of the speech.
“Just a few weeks ago, I joined volunteers to distribute meals to furloughed federal workers. They waited in line for a box of food and a sliver of hope since they hadn’t received a paycheck in weeks,” she plans to say. “Making their livelihoods a pawn for political games is a disgrace.”
She adds: “The shutdown was a stunt engineered by the President of the United States, one that defied every tenet of fairness and abandoned not just our people–but our values.”
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Abrams is expected to deliver her speech in the metro Atlanta area, surrounded by Georgia activists, labor leaders, health care professionals, educators, entrepreneurs, voters and her family, after Trump delivers his message.
A spokeswoman for Abrams told Fox News that her speech is geared toward the national audience and will hit on themes like health care, the economy and education, as well as her personal experiences. The speech will “recognize the gravity of the moment will providing a roadmap for unity and prosperity.”
Abrams’ criticism of the president comes after the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, which ended just last month when the president agreed to sign a three-week stopgap spending package to fund the government through Feb. 15. The shutdown, which began on Dec. 22, was over a border security stalemate. Trump requested $5.7 billion in funding for border security and construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and Democrats vowed to block any type of package that included funding for the wall.
In that 35-day shutdown, more than 800,000 federal workers and contractors were left working without pay, or furloughed without pay.
Along with Abrams, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra will deliver the Democrats’ Spanish-language response to the president’s State of the Union speech.
Abrams lost November’s gubernatorial election to Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp but has remained a power player in the Democratic Party.
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“Stacey Abrams offers a welcome, stark contrast to President Trump’s politics of division and lack of leadership as American families are still feeling the impacts of his self-imposed shutdown,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement last month when he announced Abrams as the choice to deliver the Democrat rebuttal. “Stacey Abrams is a present and future leader in this country. She is a dynamic, moral leader; she delivered results on the issues that matter most to Americans; and she tirelessly pursues fairness and justice for everyone in her state.”
Democrats have even encouraged Abrams to run for Senate in 2020.
But Republicans took a swipe at Abrams ahead of the address Tuesday, nicknaming her “SourGrapesStacey” in reference to her refusal to concede in Georgia’s hard-fought gubernatorial race last year. The National Republican Senatorial Committee, which recruits and supports Republicans for the Senate, released a video ahead of her speech titled “What Stacey Abrams stands for in less than 30 seconds.”
In it, it shows her refusing to concede the 2018 race, saying, “This is not a speech of concession.” It also shows clips of Abrams discussing the possibility of Trump being impeached and her saying she “wouldn’t oppose” non-citizens voting. It ends with a clip of Abrams telling an interviewer, “I like to tell people, I met me, I’m not overly impressed.”
“Finally, something we can agree on,” the NRSC ad says.
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Abrams, an attorney, was the first black leader in the Georgia statehouse, having previously served as House minority leader. She is also an award-winning romance novelist, penning eight books under the nom de plume Selena Montgomery.
Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly, Alex Pappas and The Associated Press contributed to this report.