The Slatest

Paul, Cruz, Clinton, Bush, Romney, Others Respond to State of the Union With Varying Levels of Effort

Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst gave the official Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, but the presumptive candidates for the party’s 2016 presidential nomination (and a few Democrats looking to succeed Obama) weighed in as well.

Rand Paul’s response was the most substantial and far-ranging, covering the national debt, unemployment, Obamacare, and foreign affairs.*

Marco Rubio talked about Cuba with Brian Williams and discussed how middle-class families might benefit from changes to tax policy.

Ted Cruz went to record an ostensibly improvised “impromtpu response” but had to start over after 40 seconds. Here’s what he ended up with:

Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush were brief, via Facebook.

Scott Walker posted a very short statement before Obama started talking.

Mike Huckabee posted a picture with words on it.


Chris Christie and Ben Carson don’t seem to have posted anything or made any appearances, but we’ll update this post if that turns out not to be the case. On the Democratic side of things, Hillary Clinton and Jim Webb both popped up on Twitter—Clinton with a single remark and Webb with running commentary. One of Webb’s tweets may have summed up the night:

The thread running through Obama’s and most of his potential successors’ remarks tonight was economic inequality and the decline of the middle class. They’re indeed issues that have been discussed by wonks, and populists like Webb, for years, but now they’ve jumped to the tip of the tongue of many of the candidates looking to run in 2016. And how individual Republicans distinguish their positions on the issues—right now, most of them are simply speaking in generalities about tax reform—will be among that election’s leading subplots.

Update, Jan. 21, 12:50 a.m.: I forgot Bobby Jindal! Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, submitted what from even an objective, nonpartisan perspective was the worst response to the State of the Union made by any potential candidate, or American, Tuesday night.

That tweet, posted before Obama began speaking, involves at least three mistakes:

  • Periods go inside quotation marks, like this: “free stuff.”
  • “Your” instead of “you’re”?
  • There’s a quotation mark at the end of the tweet for no reason.

Such a punctuationally spotty tweet might be on-message for a blue-collar, woman-of-the-people candidate who’s tired of Washington elites telling her where to put her apostrophes, but it’s not the strongest effort for a former Rhodes scholar who wants to present himself as 2016’s brainy “ideas”candidate.

*Correction, Jan. 12, 2015: This post originally misidentified Rand Paul as Ron Paul.

Read more of Slate’s State of the Union coverage.