Stacey Abrams On Voting Rights, COVID-19, And Being Vice President

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Experienced politicians know there is a right way to answer questions about pursuing higher office. Be demure. Redirect. Convey vague interest while insisting never to have given it serious consideration. But Stacey Abrams does not give the expected answer when I ask if she would accept an offer from former vice president Joe Biden to serve as his 2020 running mate. “Yes. I would be honored,” Abrams says. “I would be an excellent running mate. I have the capacity to attract voters by motivating typically ignored communities. I have a strong history of executive and management experience in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. I’ve spent 25 years in independent study of foreign policy. I am ready to help advance an agenda of restoring America’s place in the world. If I am selected, I am prepared and excited to serve.”

Abrams’s direct response betrays ambition, makes verifiable claims, and establishes outcomes to which she could later be held accountable. By normal political rules, it is the wrong answer. But as Abrams and I talk in March in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, it is clear that normal political rules no longer apply. I’m asking her about an unknown political future even as the future itself is frighteningly unknowable: schools closing, businesses shuttering, and Americans sheltering against a raging virus we can barely fathom. Amid this chaotic unpredictability, Abrams’s candor is disarming and comforting.

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