Democratic response to the State of the Union address

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The Democratic response to the State of the Union address, sometimes referred to simply as the Democratic response, is a rebuttal speech, often brief, delivered by a representative (or representatives) of the Democratic Party following a presidential State of the Union address when the president is a Republican. When the president is a Democrat, a similar rebuttal is referred to as the Republican response.

To date, one person involved in giving the Democratic response, Bill Clinton, has gone on to become President of the United States. He is one of only three people to have given both a response and a State of the Union address, the others being Republicans Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush.

The most recent Democratic response occurred following President George W. Bush’s State of the Union address on January 28, 2008. It was delivered by Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius.

List of Democratic responses[edit]

Date President Response given by
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)1
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 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)1
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)1
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)2
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 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

1 Denotes prerecorded program
2 Randomly selected Democratic voters participated in this televised discussion

Non–State of the Union responses[edit]

In addition to Democratic responses to official State of the Union addresses, there have been two Democratic responses to non–State of the Union speeches which were delivered soon after the inaugurations of Presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush.

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 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)[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Opposition Responses to the State of the Union Messages" (PDF). Senate.gov. Retrieved January 28, 2011. 
  2. ^ "The Democratic Response". PBS.org. February 27, 2001. Retrieved January 28, 2011. 
General reference