Stacey Abrams ‘happy’ to run as vice presidential candidate, she says at University of Iowa

Democrat Stacey Abrams said she is open to running for vice president alongside the Democratic presidential nominee at a UI event celebrating 100 years of women’s suffrage.


Katie Goodale

Fair Fight Founder Stacey Abrams addresses the crowd at the IMU on Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. Abrams spoke on the 100th commencement of the 19th amendment. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Rin Swann, News Reporter

In an event commemorating 100 years of women’s suffrage, former Democratic nominee for Georgia governor Stacey Abrams said Monday she would be comfortable running for vice president with the eventual Democratic nominee in the general election.

Abrams disputed rumors around her lunch with former Vice President Joe Biden during the last question of the night at the University of Iowa event, including theories that he made her an “offer she couldn’t refuse” relating to the vice presidency.

“But when I got the question [from reporters] I was, myself, contemplating my next steps,” she said. “And what I said was, you do not run in a primary for second place, so no, for whatever rumors are out there. However, I’m not in the primary, but you can run as second in the general election, and I am happy to do so with the nominee. That is my answer.”

In 2018, Abrams lost the governorship to former Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a Republican. She never conceded the election amid controversy about voter access to polls during the election. Since her loss, she founded “Fair Fight,” an organization with a goal to protect voter rights and access ahead of the 2020 election.

RELATED: Stacey Abrams will visit the UI to speak about fair elections

Her visit to Iowa City was part of a series celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. The series will continue with UI courses offered in the fall and spring, a writing contest, and more speakers.

More than 700 people attended the event held in the IMU Main Lounge. Among those in attendance was state Sen. Zach Wahls, D-Coralville, who said he was eager to “hear her thoughts about the state of our democracy, celebrating, obviously, the 100th commemoration of the 19th Amendment and what she thinks the future of voting looks like in our country.”

The event opened with a half-hour introduction and speech from Abrams, in which she highlighted the history of voting in America, beginning with explaining how the U.S. Constitution only gave white landowners the right to vote. She proceeded to discuss the history of minority voting and women’s right to vote.

Her key points focused on voter suppression, including the removal of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 which she said put in place barriers for people to vote and the difficulty voters face as the rules for voting vary by state.

On her election loss, she said that while she will not concede, she will not contest it.

RELATED: UI holds year-long commemoration for the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment

“My point is very simple,” Abrams said. “The moment we make the right to vote contingent upon the candidate of our choice being elected or not elected, then we have missed out on the purity of our power. Because democracy is ultimately only about power. It has always been about power and the key to that power is the right to vote.”

After her introduction, she answered audience questions for an hour with Iowa Public Radio’s Ben Kieffer moderating. Questions included her thoughts on the electoral college, whose origins she said rested in “the south want[ing] to count the bodies of slaves but didn’t want them to participate in elections,” her support of a national election holiday, and foreign voting interference, among other topics.

Attendee Harry Olthoff expressed the importance of free and fair elections to the individual.

“The basis of who I am and what I have enjoyed in this country and my education is all based on free and fair elections,” she said. “When somebody starts messing with that, they mess with the core of what has given me a happy life and my family.”