Stacey Abrams opened up about her struggle to become the country’s first female African-American governor on Monday and her battle to shift the focus away from her history-making potential and onto her policies.
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“I think sometimes there is a Crayola version of policymaking that happens where they do focus on color,” Abrams, Georgia’s Democratic gubernatorial nominee, said in an interview on Monday with Trevor Noah. “My mission is to talk about issues, to talk about education and to talk about why it is so critical that we create jobs for everyone that pay a good wage to talk about expanding access to Medicaid so poor people don’t get sick in Georgia.”
Abrams, 44, made history in May when she became the first African-American and the first woman to be a major party’s nominee for governor of Georgia — an achievement she says she’s proud of — but she wants to focus more on why she’s qualified to do the job.
She says it’s hard to explain her political platform at times because people are mostly interested in asking her questions about race and gender.
“It’s hard to focus on people to focus on [the issues] because I think they’re so surprised by how far I have been able to come, despite what they might consider to be both a disqualifier and really interesting fact that sits really nicely on a chyron,” Abrams told Noah on “The Daily Show” on Monday.
American voters have only elected an African-American as governor twice in the nation’s history — Douglas Wilder of Virginia in 1989 and Deval Patrick of Massachusetts in 2006 — but Abrams says her racial identity alone won’t be enough to defeat her Republican opponent, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, in November.
“I never change who I am or what I talk about, because I think that fundamentally it doesn’t really matter what race you are. You want a good governor who can lead,” she said.