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2023 State of the Union Address: Who is invited and who is delivering the Republican response?

This year the Republican response to President Biden’s State of the Union will be delivered by Sarah Huckabee Sanders? Who is she and what will she say?

This year the Republican response to President Biden’s State of the Union will be delivered by Sarah Huckabee Sanders? Who is she and what will she say?
Leah MillisREUTERS

The response to the State of the Union is always provided by the party not in power, meaning this year, the public will hear from a Republican once President Biden finishes his address.

The GOP has tapped Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee-Sanders to deliver the response this year. The country became familiar with now Gov. Huckabee-Sanders after her stint as White House Press Secretary under President Trump. After leaving Washington, she decided to run for governor, the same position held by her father years ago. Gov. Huckabee-Sanders was elected in November, becoming the first woman to hold the office.

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy shared a short video profile of the newly elected leader on Twitter earlier this week.

What issues is Gov. Huckabee Sanders likely to mention?

Gov. Huckabee-Sanders will use her time to discuss the GOP vision for the country and contrast it with that proposed by President Biden.

The response is much shorter than the address delivered by the president, meaning that the governor has even less time to touch on many of the issues important to voters. Since culture war issues like gay marriage have reemerged as the Republican’s main critique against the liberal establishment, some attacks on the LGBTQ+ community could make it into the response. Attacks on “woke ideology” and “critical race theory” as they relate to public education would also be easy targets to please the MAGA base of the party. However, these topics did not deliver Republicans the red wave they thought it would in the 2022 mid-terms. To pivot, the party may use Gov. Huckabee-Sander’s speech to test out new messages that appeal to a larger base of voters.

Proposals to further restrict abortion would be an unlikely addition to the speech considering the electoral backlash felt by the GOP after the Dobb’s decision was released last summer. Of the six ballot initiatives on abortion that have taken place since last summer, none have led to the approval of more restrictive laws being enacted.

Who delivered the GOP response last year?

The responsibility to provide the party’s response is often seen as an opportunity to garner national attention, which for state leaders can be challenging to obtain. This year will mark the second in a row that a woman governor is selected to provide the GOP response. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds delivered last year’s remarks.


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