State of the Union Reaction Falls Along Party Lines

Reactions to big speeches by chief executives are relatively predictable.

Whether it’s Missouri’s State of the State or the State of Union, a chief executive’s speech to a legislative body typically makes reporters’ inboxes balloon.

And it’s not just because Harry & David’s sends an unusually large amount emails advertising its latest delicious sale. Rather, lawmakers tend to enjoy providing snap reactions to high-profile events. That was certainly the case earlier this month when Gov. Jay Nixon gave his State of the State address.

It was also what happened when President Barack Obama’s State of the Union delivered his State of the Union Tuesday, which took place as the race for the Republican presidential nomination continues to gather more and more attention. And the responses to the speech, in a nutshell, weren’t exactly surprising.

For instance, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), released a text statement that included verbiage about how Obama’s “economic policies have not only failed - they’ve clearly made the economy worse.” And he also produced a video response that was posted on YouTube, as is the senator’s custom for more high-profile events.

On the other hand, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) said that the president laid out a plan “to bolster manufacturing, like we did at the Ford plant in Kansas City, and investing in our workforce is a starting point that we all should be able to support.”

“Missouri’s middle class families can’t endure more partisanship, brinksmanship, and political games,” said McCaskill, who is facing a potentially tough re-election fight this year. “They expect us to work together and be willing to compromise. I’m ready to work towards that goal.”

I spent a few minutes rummaging through Google and scanning Politico to see whether a Republican lawmaker said anything positive about Obama’s speech. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) came close, praising the president for talking about changing the tax code and not tolerating a nuclear-armed Iran.

But even that praise had a sharp edge.

“That’s about where the agreement ended,” Lee told Politico in a video. “I disagreed with every word that came out of his mouth, including the words ‘but,’ ‘and’ and ‘the.’”

So much for breaking the mold. If Obama wins re-election, it’ll be worth watching whether Congress becomes more collaborative. To an extent, that’s what happened when President Bill Clinton won another term, with notable exception of that entire impeachment episode.


By the way, all three of McCaskill’s potential GOP opponents in this year’s U.S. Senate race—Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) former state treasurer Sarah Steelman and Frontenac businessman John Brunner—also sent out statements criticizing Obama’s address.

Akin, for instance, said Obama “was elected by speeches, but he’s going to be judged by his record, with the economy in the condition it is and by the massive federal spending.”

Steelman said the speech “was full of rhetoric—but his administration has shown no results.”

And Brunner said the speech “was merely an election-year political speech meant to distract the American people from President Obama's three years of failed leadership.”

The staff of the Hotline this week said that the Missouri U.S. Senate race was the third most competitive contest of the 2012 election cycle. The staff of the D.C. news service stated, “The Republican primary is Claire McCaskill's best friend.”

“Businessman John Brunner continues to improve as a candidate, but he'll have to spend big to get past better-known Republicans Todd Akin (who's proving a lackluster fundraiser) and Sarah Steelman (who some GOP strategists fear is unelectable),” the article stated. “McCaskill's bad fortune to be running on the same ticket as President Obama in an increasingly red state still makes her the most vulnerable Democrat seeking another term.”


This writer often uses , as well as to catch the latest news about the Chicago White Sox and professional wrestling.

But the social media service can often break news, as was the case earlier this week when politico Patricia Bynes tweeted during a meeting of the St. Louis County Central Committee that when an aide to U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan was asked about where the St. Louis Democrat was running this year, he responded, “I'm not trying to be flippant, but he will run in the district he lives in.”

If Missouri's congressional map survives a court challenge, that would mean that Carnahan would live in Missouri’s 1st Congressional District. And both Roll Call and KMOX noted that would seem to hint that Carnahan was planning to run against Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO).

A spokesman for Carnahan told both media outlets that the aide was “misunderstood” and that no decision would be made until a Cole County judge makes a decision on whether the state's new congressional maps can withstand legal muster.


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