Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams said Thursday that running for president is “probably third on the list” of her potential future bids for office, behind running for the US Senate or seeking a gubernatorial rematch.
Abrams told the Wall Street Journal that she’s “excited by the fact that so many have reached out to me about running for the presidency,” and that running for president is “an important consideration because I think we need the right kind of campaign for 2020.”
She further detailed her plans Thursday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” saying she’d make a decision on a Senate run in the “short-term,” and that “I don’t think you actually have to make a decision about the White House before the fall.”
“I am thinking about it, I truly am. I think the timing for me is first deciding about the Senate. Because I do think you cannot run for an office unless you know that’s the job you want to do,” Abrams said. “My first responsibility is to determine whether a Senate run is right for me, and then the next conversations for myself will be, if not the Senate, then what else?”
She continued, “I think the Senate decision is going to be pretty short-term. I intended to do it in March but because of my book tour, I had to push it back. But I do want to make a decision this month. And then I don’t think you actually have to make a decision about the White House before the fall.”
Abrams, the former minority leader in Georgia’s state House, drew national attention last year during her bid to become the first black woman to be a governor in the US. She narrowly lost the Georgia gubernatorial election to Republican Brian Kemp in a contentious race and has publicly expressed misgivings about the results. On Wednesday, at the National Action Network conference in New York, Abrams called Kemp, previously Georgia’s secretary of state, an “architect of voter suppression.”
In addition to weighing another gubernatorial bid, Abrams may decide to run in the 2020 Senate race for the seat currently held by Republican Sen. David Perdue. She also may decide to jump into the crowded field of Democrats vying to take on President Donald Trump in 2020.
The first votes in the Democratic presidential primary won’t be cast until the Iowa caucuses in early February 2020, but a number of factors could pressure Abrams into a decision on a White House run sooner than the fall. The first Democratic National Committee debates are set for June and July of this year. Even if Abrams entered the race over the summer, other candidates will have more time to build their campaigns and hire staff.
On MSNBC Thursday, Abrams also discussed her conversations with former Vice President Joe Biden, amid reports that Biden’s team had discussed an “early selection of a running mate” as he eyes a 2020 bid.
Asked if reports that Biden discussed a joint ticket with her are accurate, Abrams replied, “Not at all.”
Asked again, Abrams said that she’s “had conversations with Joe Biden about him running for president, about me running for president, about me running for Senate, about me running for dogcatcher.”
Abrams said that “we did not talk about his primary strategy, and most of the speculation I believe comes about because of well-wishers who got excited about seeing us together and I appreciate their enthusiasm.”
Echoing past comments, Abrams said that she does “not believe you run for second place.”
She continued, “If I enter the race for president I will enter the race for president, but once we have a nominee, I am open to having conversations, should I not be someone who’s running, I am open to conversations with anyone.”
Abrams was also asked about allegations that Biden made women feel uncomfortable in their encounters – which prompted a video response from Biden yesterday – and specifically mentioned Lucy Flores, the former Nevada assemblywoman who was the first to come forward.
“I am friends with Lucy Flores and I appreciate her bringing her story forward. I also have deep respect for Vice President Joe Biden,” she said. “We cannot have perfection as a litmus test. The responsibility of leaders is to not be perfect, but to be accountable, to say, ‘I’ve made a mistake, I understand it, and here’s what I’m going to do to reform as I move forward.’ And I think we see Joe Biden doing that. I think the vice president has acknowledged the discomfort that he’s caused. He’s created context for why that is his behavior, and he has affirmed that he will do something different going forward. And I think that’s what we should be looking for.”