Former Vice President Joe Biden and former Georgia state lawmaker Stacey Abrams met privately Thursday in Washington, bringing together two starkly different faces of the Democratic Party as they both weigh their political futures.
Biden, 76, who served as President Barack Obama’s closest adviser, is on the cusp of deciding whether he’ll make a third run for the presidency after two failed attempts.
Abrams, 45, narrowly lost the Georgia governor’s race last November. She is being heavily recruited to run for the U.S. Senate in 2020, but she’s not ruled out making a presidential bid herself.
A person close to Abrams confirmed the meeting, saying it was set at Biden’s request. The person wasn’t authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The meeting stands out among the high-powered political huddles that are common as a presidential election season takes shape.
Biden and Abrams represent starkly different identities for a Democratic Party in flux, with one an older white man who is the consummate Washington politician and the other a black woman from Generation X who was turned into a national political celebrity despite her defeat. Abrams was chosen to deliver the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address last month.
If Abrams doesn’t run or doesn’t win the Democratic nomination, she could be a vice presidential pick, especially if Biden or another white candidate won the nomination. There is wide agreement across the Democratic spectrum that the party’s 2020 ticket should include a woman and/or a minority.
Biden endorsed Abrams’ failed gubernatorial campaign but did not visit Georgia to speak on her behalf, as did now-presidential candidates Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California.
In an interview with The Associated Press this week, Abrams largely avoided the 2020 speculation, saying she must decide first whether she wants to challenge Republican Sen. David Perdue, a freshman who has emerged as one of Trump’s most vocal supporters on Capitol Hill.
“There certainly is a connectivity between that and other 2020 opportunities,” she said, referring to “ephemeral” options like the vice presidency, something that “requires other people to make decisions about what they would like” versus deciding whether to run herself.
Abrams repeated her intentions to announce her Senate plans in early April.
She said she has had a series of conversations with other current and elected officials about all of her options, with a key question being the practical ability of a senator to make a difference. Biden spent 36 years representing Delaware in the Senate before becoming vice president in 2009.
“My objective is to make sure I want to do that job, and because I’d not thought about the Senate before — it had never been in my list of considerations,” Abrams said, referring to her still-strong ambition to be governor after already having served as minority leader in the state House.
“The Senate is a different way to tackle the issues I see. It is a continuation of my legislative work, which I appreciated, but it’s an indirect solution to some of the challenges I see,” she said, explaining a potential downside.
But Abrams also said she sees plenty of opportunities.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, Abrams said, has been “very thoughtful” in addressing her questions as he recruits her to challenge Perdue.
Schumer has said Abrams would be a leading Democratic voice on voting rights.
Abrams’ race last fall was highlighted by her claims that now-Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, paved the way for his own victory by using his previous post as secretary of state to make it harder for poor and non-white Georgians to vote.
Democrats in the U.S. House are investigating Abrams’ allegations.
“They need to quit playing politics up there,” Kemp said Wednesday.
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