Trump Wasn't At The State Of The Union But His Presence Was Felt
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
NPR's Tamara Keith continued tracking Trump and other Republicans during and after the State of the Union speech. And, Tam, what'd they say?
TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Well, Donald Trump treated tweeted during the speech. In a classic Trumpian type of tweet, he said, quote, "The SOTU speech is really boring, slow, lethargic, very hard to watch!" On a number of occasions during his speech, President Obama alluded to Trump's rhetoric on Muslims, saying this isn't just about political correctness. And it's almost as if there was a Trump theme to the whole night because the official Republican response came from South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who at one point all but called Trump out by name in her speech.
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NIKKI HALEY: Today, we live in a time of threats like few others in recent memory. During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation.
INSKEEP: Although, when the president was speaking, he didn't just call out trump. He called out Republicans broadly for their pessimism. How did Republicans respond to that?
KEITH: Well, in short, they feel like he was being overly optimistic in his speech. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who was not in Washington for the speech, said that it was less a State of the Union and more a state of denial. Sen. Marco Rubio, who was in the chamber, said the president was downplaying the threat posed by ISIS. And former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina put up a lengthy post on Facebook and said, quote, "despite his rhetoric, Americans know that our economy is lagging, our leadership in the world is waning and the very character of our nation is threatened, " which is to say the people running to replace this president were not persuaded by his speech.
INSKEEP: Are the Democrats running for president running on the president's record?
KEITH: Hillary Clinton is making an argument that she is the best person - maybe the only person - who can carry on the president's legacy, especially when it comes to gun control. The president in his speech only very briefly mentioned guns. It was a short sentence. But while the speech was underway, the Clinton campaign released a new ad, saying that she was with the president.
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HILLARY CLINTON: It's time to pick a side. Either we stand with the gun lobby or we join the president and stand up to them. I'm with him. Please join us. I'm Hillary Clinton, and I approve this message.
KEITH: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is not running as a continuation of the Obama administration. He says he wants to go further than President Obama ever tried to go. And he really is appealing to liberals in the Democratic Party, many of whom were disappointed by President Obama. So on the trail, Sanders is not as optimistic as the president on the economy.
KEITH: But last night, he tweeted that it was important - the speech - quote, "it reminded us not to be afraid of change."
INSKEEP: That's NPR's Tamara Keith. Thanks very much.
KEITH: You're welcome very much.