After previously slamming her qualifications, President Donald Trump on Thursday praised former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams, who is set to give the Democratic Party’s response to Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday.
The president said that he hopes “she does a good job,” a sharp contrast from his comments during last year’s election, when he referred to her as “totally unqualified” and told reporters to “take a look at her past, take a look at her history.”
Trump labeled both Abrams and Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, who would have become the first black governors of their respective states, “not equipped” and “not qualified” to govern. Both faced a profusion of racist attacks during the midterms.
In November, Abrams narrowly lost to Republican Brian Kemp, amid allegations that Kemp, as secretary of state, suppressed the vote.
“I campaigned against Stacey Abrams. I know President Obama campaigned for her. Michelle Obama campaigned for her, and Oprah campaigned for her. And all Brian [Kemp] had was me,” Trump said Thursday, falsely claiming that the former first lady campaigned for Abrams. “And he won fairly easily, you know, fairly easily. So I hope that she does a good job. I mean, I respect her.”
Speaking at a conference Thursday, Abrams joked that as part of her preparation for her State of the Union response, “I’m going to hydrate first. That’s very important” — an apparent jab at Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and his infamous State of the Union response.
The 2018 Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate will also reach Georgia residents’ airwaves during Sunday’s Super Bowl. Abrams’ voting rights organization, Fair Fight, will air an ad advocating for reforms to the state’s voting system.