AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Abbott
Every year following the State of the Union Address, one member of the party that doesn’t control the White House is charged with giving the response to the State of the Union. This year, that responsibility falls to Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, a rising star within the Republican Party. When Reynolds takes the stage this year, she would do well to follow the powerful example set by last year’s Republican speaker, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott.
Following Biden’s Address to a Joint Session of Congress last year, Scott gave what was widely considered one of the best GOP responses to a presidential address in recent memory. Scott, the first and only African American to serve in both chambers of Congress, presented a striking contrast to a president in Joe Biden who at times struggled to even make it through his speech. Scott rejected the allure of hyperbole or blind partisanship and, in doing so, delivered a speech that was as devastating to Biden as it was resonant to ordinary Americans.
In his speech, Senator Scott effectively articulated what has undoubtedly become one of the voters’ most enduring frustrations with President Biden: the gulf between his rhetorical promises and his actual policies. As Scott noted, Biden “promised to unite a nation, to lower the temperature. To govern for all Americans, no matter how we voted. That was the pitch.” Yet, as Scott noted, from the American Rescue Plan to the For the People Act to Build Back Better and beyond, Biden has championed legislation that even Democrats describe as the “most liberal bill(s) in American history.” Scott deftly juxtaposed Biden ramming through massive spending increases on party-line votes with the five successful bipartisan COVID bills passed in 2020 under President Trump’s leadership.
More than pointing to any single policy failing, Sen. Scott succeeded in succinctly stating the facts without malice, cruelty, or snark. “I won’t waste your time tonight with finger-pointing or partisan bickering,” Scott said. “I want to have an honest conversation. About common sense and common ground. About this feeling that our nation is sliding off its shared foundation, and how we move forward together.”
After President Biden preached division during his Address last year, alleging “systemic racism in our criminal justice system,” Scott set the record straight on race relations in America. As he pointed out, “Just before COVID, we had the most inclusive economy in my lifetime. The lowest unemployment ever recorded for African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans. The lowest for women in nearly 70 years.”
Contrary to the baseless mainstream media narrative that conservative policies are actually designed to disadvantage minority Americans, Scott pointed out that the great economic gains seen by minority groups under President Trump – which have been almost entirely erased by President Biden – “happened because Republicans focused on expanding opportunity for all Americans.”
“Our best future won’t come from Washington’s schemes or socialist dreams,” Scott continued. “It will come from you — the American people. Black, Hispanic, white, and Asian. Republican and Democrat. Brave police officers and Black neighborhoods. We are not adversaries. We are family! We are all in this together.”
Arguably the most powerful portion of Scott’s speech was his conclusion. Scott reflected on how it was timeless American values – family, faith, and freedom – that had allowed him to succeed. “I am standing here because my mom has prayed me through some really tough times,” he said. “I believe our nation has succeeded the same way because generations of Americans, in their own ways, have asked for grace, and God has supplied it.” Scott then closed with words from one of his favorite worship songs – a display of faith that is perhaps out of step with most media elites but again reflected Scott’s deep roots in traditional American principles.
While Scott spoke passionately, it was his strict adherence to the facts that made his speech so powerful. Thankfully for Governor Reynolds, the facts are just as damning for Biden in 2022 as they were in 2021. Biden has, thus far, failed to deliver on his core promises: easing political tensions, rebuilding the economy, and ending the COVID-19 pandemic. His approval rating is hovering below 40%, and his party faces a complete rout in the upcoming midterms. Of course, this is all now on top of a world teetering on the brink of World War III as Russia continues its invasion into Ukraine. Needless to say, Americans appear ready for a fresh vision for the future of their country.
By all accounts, Governor Reynolds is just the right person to do that. Reynolds started to gain more attention throughout the pandemic for rejecting many of the most stringent COVID lockdown orders, instead of pursuing a strategy of protecting the vulnerable while allowing most people to continue living relatively normally. Despite this, she managed to keep case and death numbers low. More than half of Iowans approve of her job performance – no easy task in today’s hyper-partisan political climate. She’s helped pass popular policies on banning Critical Race Theory, school choice, and support for law enforcement, as well as lowering taxes and running a $1.2 billion surplus in 2021 (almost unheard of in today’s world of bloated government budgets and endless deficit spending).
In short, Reynolds is everything Biden is not – strong, competent, and committed to common-sense policies that are in the best interests of her constituents. All she needs do is, like Senator Scott, stick to the facts. For Biden’s presidency, there’s nothing more devastating.
Andrew Abbott is the pen name of a writer and public affairs consultant with over a decade of experience in DC at the intersection of politics and culture.