Response to the State of the Union address

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The response to the State of the Union address is a rebuttal speech, often brief, delivered by a representative (or representatives) of the opposition party following a presidential State of the Union address. When the president is a Democrat, the rebuttal is given by a Republican, and vice-versa.

The practice began in 1966 when Republican U.S. Senator Everett Dirksen (Illinois) and U.S. Representative Gerald Ford (Michigan) appeared on TV to offer a response to the address by Democratic President Lyndon Johnson.[1] The opposition party's response has varied in format, ranging from a prerecorded 45-minute TV program in 1970[2] to a call-in show in 1972 where a panel of congressmen answered unrehearsed questions from callers.[1] Since the late 1980s, it usually has been a televised speech given soon after the State of the Union address.[1]

Three people have given both a response and a State of the Union address: Democrat Bill Clinton and Republicans Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush.

List of responses[edit]

Date President Response given by[1]
January 12, 1966 Lyndon Johnson U.S. Senator Everett Dirksen (Illinois) and U.S. Representative Gerald Ford (Michigan) 1
January 10, 1967 U.S. Senator Everett Dirksen (Illinois) and U.S. Representative Gerald Ford (Michigan)
January 17, 1968 U.S. Senators Thomas Kuchel (California), Charles Percy (Illinois), Howard Baker (Tennessee), Hugh Scott (Pennsylvania), John Tower (Texas), Peter Dominick (Colorado), Robert P. Griffin (Michigan), and George Murphy (California); U.S. Representatives William Steiger (Wisconsin), Gerald Ford (Michigan), Richard Poff (Virginia), George Bush (Texas), Robert Mathias (California), Charlotte Reid (Illinois), Albert Quie (Minnesota), and Melvin Laird (Wisconsin)
January 22, 1970 Richard Nixon U.S. Senators William Proxmire (Wisconsin), Mike Mansfield (Montana), Henry “Scoop” Jackson (Washington), and Edmund Muskie (Maine); U.S. Representatives Donald Fraser (Minnesota), Patsy Mink (Hawaii), and John McCormack (Massachusetts)2
January 22, 1971 U.S. Senator Mike Mansfield (Montana)
January 20, 1972 U.S. Senators William Proxmire (Wisconsin), Frank Church (Idaho), Thomas Eagleton (Missouri), and Lloyd Bentsen (Texas); U.S. Representatives Leonor Sullivan (Missouri), John Melcher (Montana), John Brademas (Indiana), Martha Griffiths (Michigan), Ralph Metcalfe (Illinois), Carl Albert (Oklahoma), and Hale Boggs (Louisiana)
January 20, 1974 U.S. Senator Mike Mansfield (Montana)
January 15, 1975 Gerald Ford U.S. Senator Hubert Humphrey (Minnesota) and U.S. Representative Carl Albert (Oklahoma)
January 19, 1976 U.S. Senator Edmund Muskie (Maine)
January 19, 1978 Jimmy Carter U.S. Senator Howard Baker Jr. (Tennessee) and U.S. Representative John Rhodes (Arizona)
January 23, 1979 U.S. Senator Howard Baker Jr. (Tennessee) and U.S. Representative John Rhodes (Arizona)
January 23, 1980 U.S. Senator Ted Stevens (Alaska) and U.S. Representative John Rhodes (Arizona)
January 26, 1982 Ronald Reagan U.S. Senators Donald Riegle (Michigan), James Sasser (Tennessee), Robert Byrd (West Virginia), Edward Kennedy (Massachusetts), Gary Hart (Colorado), Paul Sarbanes (Maryland), J. Bennett Johnston (Louisiana), and Alan Cranston (California); U.S. Representatives Albert Gore Jr. (Tennessee) and House Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill (Massachusetts)2
January 25, 1983 U.S. Senators Robert Byrd (West Virginia), Paul Tsongas (Massachusetts), Bill Bradley (New Jersey), and Joe Biden (Delaware); U.S. Representatives Tom Daschle (South Dakota), Barbara Kennelly (Connecticut), House Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill (Massachusetts), George Miller (California), Les AuCoin (Oregon), Paul Simon (Illinois), Timothy Wirth (Colorado), and W.G. "Bill" Hefner (North Carolina)2
January 25, 1984 U.S. Senators Joe Biden (Delaware), David Boren (Oklahoma), Carl M. Levin (Michigan), Max S. Baucus (Montana), Robert Byrd (West Virginia), Claiborne Pell (Rhode Island), and Walter Huddleston (Kentucky); U.S. Representatives Dante B. Fascell (Florida), Tom Harkin (Iowa), William Gray (Pennsylvania), House Speaker Thomas O’Neill (Massachusetts), and Barbara Boxer (California)
February 6, 1985 Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, Florida Governor Bob Graham, and U.S. House Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill (Massachusetts)3
February 4, 1986 U.S. Senator George Mitchell (Maine), Missouri Lieutenant Governor Harriett Woods, Virginia Governor Charles Robb, and U.S. Representatives Thomas Daschle (South Dakota) and William Gray (Pennsylvania)
January 27, 1987 U.S. Senator Robert Byrd (West Virginia) and U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright (Texas)
January 25, 1988 U.S. Senator Robert Byrd (West Virginia) and U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright (Texas)
January 31, 1990 George H. W. Bush U.S. House Speaker Tom Foley (Washington)
January 29, 1991 U.S. Senator George Mitchell (Maine)
January 28, 1992 U.S. House Speaker Tom Foley (Washington)
January 25, 1994 Bill Clinton U.S. Senator Robert Dole (Kansas)
January 24, 1995 New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman
January 23, 1996 U.S. Senator Robert Dole (Kansas)
February 4, 1997 U.S. Representative J.C. Watts (Oklahoma)
January 27, 1998 U.S. Senator Trent Lott (Mississippi)
January 19, 1999 U.S. Representatives Jennifer Dunn (Washington) and Steven Largent (Oklahoma)
January 27, 2000 U.S. Senators Susan Collins (Maine) and William Frist (Tennessee)
January 29, 2002 George W. Bush U.S. Representative Richard Gephardt (Missouri)
January 28, 2003 Washington Governor Gary Locke
January 23, 2004 U.S. Senator Tom Daschle (South Dakota) and U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (California)
February 2, 2005 U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (Nevada) and U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (California)
January 31, 2006 Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine
January 23, 2007 U.S. Senator Jim Webb (Virginia)
January 28, 2008 Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius
January 27, 2010 Barack Obama Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell
January 25, 2011 U.S. Representative Paul Ryan (Wisconsin); U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Florida) (Spanish version)
January 24, 2012 Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels
February 12, 2013 Florida Senator Marco Rubio (both English and Spanish versions)
January 28, 2014 U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Washington); U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Florida) (Spanish version)
January 20, 2015 U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (Iowa); U.S. Representative Carlos Curbelo (Florida) (Spanish version)

1 First organized, televised response to a presidential State of the Union message
2 Denotes prerecorded program
3 Randomly selected Democratic voters participated in this televised discussion

Non–State of the Union responses[edit]

In addition to responses to official State of the Union addresses, there have been four official responses to non–State of the Union speeches which were delivered soon after presidential inaugurations.

Date President Address type Response given by
February 9, 1989 George H. W. Bush First address to joint session of Congress U.S. Representative Jim Wright (Texas) and U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen (Texas)[1]
February 17, 1993 Bill Clinton First address to joint session of Congress U.S. Representative Bob Michel (Illinois)[1]
February 27, 2001 George W. Bush First address to joint session of Congress U.S. Representative Richard Gephardt (Missouri) and U.S. Senator Tom Daschle (South Dakota)[3]
February 24, 2009 Barack Obama First address to joint session of Congress Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Opposition Responses to the State of the Union Messages" (PDF). Senate.gov. Retrieved January 21, 2015. 
  2. ^ Frum, David (2000). How We Got Here: The '70s. New York: Basic Books. p. 47. ISBN 0-465-04195-7. 
  3. ^ "The Democratic Response". PBS.org. February 27, 2001. Retrieved January 28, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Transcript of Gov. Jindal's GOP response to Obama speech". CNN. February 24, 2009. Retrieved January 28, 2011. 
General reference