Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams, who said this week she hasn’t ruled out running for president in 2020, participated Friday at two foreign policy-focused events in Washington but offered no further indications about her plans.
“I’m looking at executive-level opportunities,” she said, including another bid for governor of Georgia in 2022.
When she told attendees at a Council on Foreign Relations Conference on Diversity in International Affairs that she also was considering a presidential bid, a ripple of gasps and murmurs went through the audience, made up mostly of college students and young professionals.
“Stop it, stop, I didn’t announce anything,” she teased.
Abrams, who rose to national prominence during her closely watched gubernatorial bid in 2018, instead made several references to the voter suppression that she said she marred her historic campaign to be the nation’s first African American female governor.
After narrowly losing that race, Abrams was courted by national Democrats to run for the U.S. Senate and was also floated as a potential No. 2 on a Joe Biden presidential ticket. She turned down the former and dismissed talk of the latter.
Abrams received rousing applause during a panel discussion on foreign policy in local communities, moderated by President Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes at the National Security Action Forum.
He opened by suggesting that had the election be run fairly in Georgia, Abrams would be the governor, which drew cheers. A similar claim was made by presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) last week, when she said voter suppression kept Abrams from winning her race.
Joining Abrams on the panel was New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D), who said voter suppression has long been a scourge in the South and “has actually produced a massive negative result that stops someone like Stacey Abrams from being the governor of the great state of Georgia, which would have been a transformational event and one that’s far overdue in not only the South but in the United States of America.”
Abrams has dedicated her post-election efforts to her nonprofit Fair Fight Action, which opposes efforts to suppress voting in minority communities. She recently said she could be spurred to run for president if the other Democratic candidates weren’t making the issue a priority.
Abrams’s appearance at two foreign policy events, the National Security Action Forum and the Council on Foreign Relations conference , stoked speculation that she was trying to expand her portfolio ahead of a possible White House run.
The earlier event was less about showing her foreign policy bona fides as it was a conversation about the disconnect between how Washington talks about issues abroad and how people in their communities see it.
“I think on the issues of democracy, trade and immigration, those are foreign policy issues that have very real and direct resonance in Georgia,” she said. “The challenge is that the national narrative seems to ignore the local implications.”
But Abrams did address her would-be opponent if she were to run for president and win the nomination.
She blamed the disconnect on President Trump, who she said, “has very little respect for either the foreign policy or the people he leads.”
At the closing panel of the Council on Foreign Relations conference, the first question to her was what she would do in 2020. She explained that she didn’t think that the U.S. Senate was the best fit for her.
Abrams noted that the Democratic presidential field is large and said she wanted to “see how many of them make it through the first gauntlet.” Abrams said they need to show that they are “authentic,” not afraid to stand up for progressive values and “have a plan to end voter suppression.”
She reiterated that she would not “run for second place” by signing on as a vice presidential candidate during the primaries.
But if she decides not to run herself and the eventual nominee “decides they like me, I’m open to conversations.”