Republicans used President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday to launch campaign-style attacks on what many GOP members see as the most important issue in the upcoming congressional elections: Biden himself.
“Weakness on the world stage has a cost, and the president’s approach to foreign policy has consistently been too little, too late,” said Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds in the Republican Party’s formal response to the State of the Union.
Reynolds accused Biden of returning the country to the late 1970s and early 1980s, when “runaway inflation hammered families, a violent crime wave crashing on our cities, and the Soviet army was attempting to redraw the world map.”
Republicans chastised Biden in a barrage of statements, interviews, and social media posts about inflation, the economy in general, foreign policy, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – and claimed they could handle it all better if they won control of Congress after the November elections.
“My House Republican colleagues and I will fight against his failed, leftist agenda, working to lower inflation, reduce energy costs for American families, combat crime, and restore common sense and freedom in our country,” said House GOP whip Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La.
Democrats, who are vying to keep control of the House and Senate in this year’s elections, claim Republicans are only interested in attacking Biden, despite the fact that he has outlined an agenda aimed at promoting European stability and improving the economy at home.
“How our nation has built a historic economic recovery – and how there is still more we must do to lower costs for America’s working families,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., tweeted.
Former President Donald Trump, another prominent Republican, slammed Biden’s speech early Wednesday, saying, “What he said was just so bad for our country.” Trump has mentioned a rematch with Biden in 2024.
The State of the Union address allows presidents to make unfiltered remarks to a large television audience, deploying one of the most powerful political weapons in the presidential political arsenal.
While Biden did not mention the midterm elections specifically, he did speak at length about a platform that included an international effort to confront Russia as well as domestic plans to boost the economy through manufacturing, health care, education, and dealing a final blow to COVID-19.
The president delivered his State of the Union address on the same night that the 2022 election campaign kicked off. Texas held primaries for Republican and Democratic candidates seeking nominations for congressional seats as well as a variety of Lone Star State offices, including governor.
Republican lawmakers echoed each other in criticizing Biden’s speech and campaign platform. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Biden “ignored that his agenda has completely flopped for American families,” and expressed sympathy for the Democratic president.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who tweeted throughout the State of the Union, praised Reynolds in one post: “Republicans are on the side of parents and students. Republicans support safe streets and borders. Republicans believe in FREEDOM.”
GOP political experts piled on, claiming Biden’s speech was an overly long and boring laundry list.
According to GOP strategist Doug Heye, the speech was a success “like a pinball machine, bouncing around I enjoy pinball, but this is not a compliment.”
Throughout the day, campaign organizations affiliated with both parties sent out fundraising appeals based on the State of the Union. The Republican National Committee chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, described Biden’s speech as “Biden’s last big chance to try to change the pattern of things before the election this fall.”
McDaniel, who also tweeted throughout the State of the Union, admitted that he fell short at one point: “Biden is failing the American people. He can’t undo his year of failures with a #SOTU that ignores our country’s real problems.”
Republicans focused on Biden’s record, primarily on the economy, but also on foreign policy, claiming that earlier sanctions could have deterred Russia from invading Ukraine.
As Biden finished his speech. Republicans chastised him on a variety of issues, including crime rates, illegal border crossing, and vaccine and mask mandates to combat the COVID pandemic. The president’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic also drew GOP criticism.