Beto O'Rourke called Stacey Abrams "a real hero to me" on Tuesday and said her loss in Georgia's 2018 gubernatorial election was probably due to the election being rigged against her by her opponent.
The 2020 candidate and former Democratic Texas congressman expanded on remarks last weekend that Abrams could be a possible running mate for him if he won the nomination.
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The View host Joy Behar noted the "lovely and smart" Abrams didn't take kindly to such talk from Joe Biden's camp before he ran. A possible 2020 candidate herself, Abrams told The View in March that she wouldn't run for "second place."
"There are a number of women who aren't running, may run, including Stacey Abrams, who is a real hero to me," O'Rourke said. "The grace with which she met that defeat on an unfair, unlevel [sic] playing field, with the secretary of state perhaps rigging in part that election—her focus on democracy forum, a new Voting Rights Act, ensuring that every single vote counts in this country is inspiring stuff at a time where our democracy is so badly broken."
O'Rourke said it was hard to imagine a scenario where he won the nomination and didn't pick a woman as a running mate. The struggling 2020 candidate is essentially resetting his campaign as he flounders in the polls and seeks a compelling message in the enormous field.
Abrams has not officially conceded defeat at the hands of Republican Brian Kemp in Georgia, repeatedly claiming she "won" the race despite losing by nearly 55,000 votes and that she and the voters were cheated by Kemp's voter suppression efforts. Prominent Democrats like Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) have repeated Abrams's claim that Kemp stole the race from her.
Fact-checks show Abrams's complaints are unfounded, such as her blaming Kemp for closing rural precincts and enforcing Democratic-passed "use it or lose it" laws regarding voter registration. Voter registration and turnout increased during Kemp's tenure, and 2018 was a near-presidential year turnout in Georgia.
Abrams won more votes than any Democrat in state history, but it was only good enough for second place.