President Biden seemingly got one over on House Republicans in Tuesday’s State of the Union address, baiting GOP lawmakers over spending cuts related to the nation’s debt limit and withstanding regular heckling and name calling in a speech that lasted over an hour.
Throughout his administration, the president has faced increasing doubts from both parties over his ability to lead the country for another four years, but after this week’s address even some Republicans — including his top political nemesis — had compliments for the president.
“I disagree with him on most of his policies, but he put into words what he felt, and he ended up the evening far stronger than he began. Give him credit for that,” former President Trump shared on his Truth Social account just after Biden’s address wrapped.
As Biden prepares to announce his reelection bid in the coming weeks, his State of the Union address — on a prime-time national stage — showed that he can still be old school Biden: nimble, crafty and quick to punch back.
Democratic strategist Eddie Vale said Biden “looked ready to hit the trail in 2024.”
“[The address] showed a president who was having fun, toying with his opponents,” Vale said.
And the president didn’t just stick to the script. During some of the most raucous moments in the chamber, House Republicans openly sparred with Biden, shouting “liar” and “it’s your fault” in response to some of his policy suggestions.
Biden shined in some of those moments, avoiding the types of gaffes he’s sometimes known for.
The most memorable moment of a live back-and-forth between the president and the GOP came when the president suggested that some Republicans want to “sunset” Social Security and Medicare, which led to “boo,” “no!” and “liar!” from the audience.
“Folks, as we all apparently agree, Social Security and Medicare is off the books now, right? They’re not to be touched? All right. All right. We got unanimity!” Biden said, seemingly settling a wrought policy disagreement on live television.
His response seemed to work. Immediately, it put Republicans on defense while bolstering Biden’s stature as the adult in the room.
“Joe Biden sparring with the crowd and winning wasn’t something I expected,” former Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the Illinois Republican who left Congress earlier this year, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday night.
On Wednesday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre described the exchange as the president putting Republicans “on the defense.” Biden later recalled during a speech in Wisconsin that Republicans “sure didn’t like me calling them on it.”
Speaking on Fox News on Wednesday morning, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who at times shook his head sitting behind Biden during the speech, accused the president of using a “political ploy” to “goad” members of his party into reacting.
“But the one thing we need to be is — we need to be smart. We need to be smart, don’t take the bait, stay with the American public about what we want to do,” McCarthy said.
Ivan Zapien, a lobbyist and former Democratic National Committee official, said that Biden projected confidence in the address and brought politics back to a place where jeers from the other party could be a positive thing.
“I thought his speech hit the right tone, forcefully making his policy points — but open to debate. But above all, I think the tone of the whole night, including the boos and shouts, was positive. Biden, being Biden, lifted our politics back to a place where we can boo, yell and cry, and still get things done for the country — this is a message I think the country needed,” Zapien said.
The president on Tuesday said about a dozen times in his address that he wants to “finish the job” Americans gave him when he was elected in 2020, giving a nod to a 2024 bid.
Nayyera Haq, a SiriusXM host who served as a senior aide in the Obama White House, predicted Biden will bring that same energy to the trail in 2024.
“The man spent nearly an hour glad-handing in the chamber when I would have been wiped out and needing a nap. This is a Biden who can be out on the campaign trail showing compassion to tense voters, yakking it up with union bosses and giving Democrats the sense of fighting back they want to see,” she said.
The president is expected to announce that he is officially running for reelection in the coming weeks. In the meantime, the White House hailed Biden’s address on Tuesday as a success.
“If you talk about the split screen, you saw that from the president and you saw what Republicans were all about, which is jeering and behaving in a way that, again, Americans don’t want,” Jean-Pierre said on Wednesday. “They told us very clearly after the midterms what they wanted.”
Other Republicans besides Trump also complimented the president, saying the way he handled the hecklers will be remembered.
“Those who were heckling the president — issues of decorum aside — trying to demonstrate what fighters they are, essentially allowed Biden to grab them by the hands and say stop hitting yourself. It’s ultimately what the speech will be remembered for, not anything Biden said, good or bad or substance,” said Doug Heye, a GOP strategist.
Biden entered the State of the Union on the heels of polls that showed much of his legislative accomplishments weren’t resonating with a significant swath of the American public. And while even a strong State of the Union address is unlikely to move the needle on such issues, Democrats are hopeful Biden’s determination will help him succeed in 2024.
“For Biden, it’s very personal, but his optimism, authenticity and focus on getting stuff done will be his super power going into reelection,” Zapien said.
Biden hit the road for Wisconsin on Wednesday, attempting to build on the momentum from his State of the Union address and double down on his argument that the economy is improving because of steps taken by his administration. He will then travel to Florida on Thursday to double down on his State of the Union comments about protecting Social Security and Medicare.
“Last night, I reported on the State of the Union. It is strong. It is strong,” the president said to union workers at the Wisconsin Laborers Training Center in DeForest, Wis., on Wednesday. “It is strong because of you.”
Source: The Hill
Be First to Comment