Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders may have been tapped to deliver the official response from the GOP at President Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, but other high-profile Republicans and potential presidential contenders were also ready with their quick reactions to his speech.
Their responses offered a preview of how they might run against Mr. Biden, their likely opponent in the 2024 general election, if he chooses to run for re-election.
Former President Donald Trump, the only officially declared Republican candidate for 2024, posted live reactions on his Truth Social platform during the speech.
His posts ranged from remarks on Mr. Biden’s performance — “Too much use of the word ‘people!'” — to criticism of Republicans who applauded during his speech.
“I noticed Mitt Romney and some of the RINOs jumping up and down with cheers for the wrong reasons!” he has written.
Trump also shared a two-minute video criticizing the Biden administration on immigration, high gas prices and crime.
In the video post, Trump wrote that Biden “worked hard tonight” and that “you have to give him credit for trying.”
“I disagree with him on most of his policies, but he put what he felt into words and ended the night much stronger than he started,” Trump wrote. “Many things weren’t mentioned that should have been, but that’s for another time.”
Trump, whose handling of classified documents found at his Mar-a-Lago resort is under investigation by the Justice Department, called the department “armed” and said it was “hounding” political opponents. The Justice Department is also investigating classified documents from Biden’s tenure as vice president that have been found in his former office and home in Wilmington, Del.
His 2024 campaign also frequently sent out communiqués, bashing Biden on everything from his China policy to education and “parental rights.”
Ahead of the speech, former US Ambassador to the United Nations and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was also released a video criticizing Mr. Biden.
He contested his withdrawal from Afghanistan, which he called “one of the most consequential failures of his presidency”.
During the speech, he criticized the president on immigration, inflation and foreign policy, and called for “a new generation of leadership,” in a tweets.
Haley is expected to announce his 2024 presidential run on Feb. 15 in Charleston, becoming the first notable Republican to run against Trump in the primary.
Former Vice President Mike Pence tweeted after Biden’s speech that “showed one thing: that it’s time for the new Republican leadership to restore our nation to the strength and prosperity we had under the Trump-Pence administration.”
Pence and Haley often trail Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in early 2024 polls on a hypothetical presidential primary field. In a nation poll released on Monday from the conservative group Club for Growth Action, Trump led with 37%. DeSantis came in second at 33%, followed by Pence at 7% and Haley at 5%.
DeSantis’ official Twitter accounts were not posted during or immediately after the State of the Union, although his own the team’s quick response the account was active.
Former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, who was a popular Republican governor in a historically Democratic state, said in a statement that while Mr. Biden had campaigned for unity, “America is more divided and fed up than ever” and that “more rhetoric won”. Solve any of these pressing challenges or get our country back on track.”
“In November, the American people voted for change because they want to stop reckless spending, increase our domestic energy production, get tough on violent crime, and address the crisis at the border,” he said. “To deliver on his campaign promise, I urge President Biden to work with Congress to find common-sense solutions to these pressing challenges.”
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, in a call with CBS News before the State of the Union, lambasted Biden over China, calling him “weak” and saying he should “shoot straight at” China and not “ignore the spy balloon” in his observations.
When asked about his potential run in 2024, Youngkin said he’s “completely focused on the Commonwealth of Virginia right now.”
Fin Gomez and Robert Costa contributed to the reporting.
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