Stacey Abrams said that the hopes of American families are being "crushed" by Republican political leadership in the Democratic response to President Donald Trump's State of the Union address Tuesday night.
The failed candidate for Georgia governor and possible 2020 Senate candidate touched on themes that were key to her bid last year, including economic and racial justice and voting rights.
"In Georgia and around the country, people are striving for a middle class where a salary truly equals economic security," Abrams said, according to her prepared remarks. "But instead, families' hopes are being crushed by Republican leadership that ignores real life or just doesn't understand it."
Abrams, who is the first black woman to deliver the formal response, also addressed the recently ended partial government shutdown, the longest in American history. In the audience Tuesday night were a number of federal government employees who missed paychecks as a result of the closure.
"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," Abrams said. "Making their livelihoods a pawn for political games is a disgrace."
The former activist and attorney called the shutdown 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."
Abrams, formerly the Democratic leader in the Georgia House of Representatives, used her response as a plea for bipartisanship. She said that even as she opposed the president, she did not want him to fail.
"We may come from different sides of the political aisle, but our joint commitment to the ideals of this nation cannot be negotiable," she said.
Democrats have pushed Abrams to run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Sen. David Perdue of Georgia. Abrams has said she is "thinking about" a bid for that office, or potentially another run for governor.
The president called for bipartisanship in his State of the Union, even as he pushed for an end to "ridiculous partisan investigations."