The Slatest

How the 2020 Democratic Field Reacted to Trump’s SOTU

California Sen. Kamala Harris greets fellow lawmakers ahead of the State of the Union on Tuesday in Washington.
California Sen. Kamala Harris greets fellow lawmakers ahead of the State of the Union on Tuesday in Washington.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

The 2020 Democratic field began responding to State of the Union before it even began, and they continued well after President Donald Trump had finished. Shocker: The men and woman competing for the right to take on the president next year were unimpressed with what they heard from him on Tuesday.

Sen. Kamala Harris, fresh off her formidable campaign rollout, got things started with a live-streamed prebuttal a little more than an hour before Trump walked into the lower chamber. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, still playing coy about his intentions to run it back in 2020, then finished the night with a lengthy spoken rebuttal of his own—after Stacey Abrams had given Democrats’ official rebuttal on-air.

Stealing the spotlight from Trump was an impossible task on a night like this, but any effort to break through in the moment was also complicated by Abrams, whose speech was about as well-received as an official SOTU response can be. Much of the field appeared willing to let Abrams speak the loudest for their party on Tuesday—a lesson likely learned, at least in part, from watching Sanders draw heat after he announced plans for his own rebuttal. (Perhaps as a result of that criticism, Bernie made sure to encourage people to tune in for Abrams’ remarks before they watched his own.)

Joe Biden and Beto O’Rourke stood out the most for their restraint. The latter didn’t tweet at all on Tuesday. And here was the former’s only tweet in the hours between the start of Trump’s speech and midnight on the East Coast:

Other White House hopefuls (and their social media teams) were more eager to throw some counterpunches—and ask for cash.

The candidate who came the closest to making news? That was probably Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who teased a major announcement this weekend. I wonder whatever it could be?