State of the Union

Republicans, Led by Sen. Joni Ernst, Respond to Obama's 2015 State of the Union

Joni Ernst, Rand Paul, and Curt Clawson offer three markedly different rebuttals to the president's speech.


Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst
Gina Whang / Wikimedia Commons

The former Iowa farm girl best known for castrating hogs made her national debut tonight: Freshman Sen. Joni Ernst, giving the official GOP response to President Obama's State of the Union, used the opportunity to introduce herself to a wider audience.

Describing herself as "a mother, a soldier, and a newly elected senator from the great State of Iowa," she spoke of her childhood in a "little town" called Red Oak where she said she had "only one good pair of shoes."

On the policy front, she called out Obama for not approving the Keystone Pipeline and laid out a laundry list of conservative priorities that included repealing Obamacare, balancing the budget, confronting Iran, and "defend[ing] life." 

Lest you think Republicans and the president agree on nothing, there was one area of overlap in the two speeches: free trade. From Ernst's prepared remarks:

Let's tear down trade barriers in places like Europe and the Pacific. Let's sell more of what we make and grow in America over there so we can boost manufacturing, wages, and jobs right here, at home.

This mirrored Obama's comments on the issue in which he (rather bravely) bucked many in his party who oppose free trade agreements. From his prepared remarks:

Look, I'm the first one to admit that past trade deals haven't always lived up to the hype…But ninety-five percent of the world's customers live outside our borders, and we can't close ourselves off from those opportunities. More than half of manufacturing executives have said they're actively looking at bringing jobs back from China. Let's give them one more reason to get it done.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), considered by some to be a frontrunner for the Republican nomination for president in 2016, gave his own rebuttal. He took a more pessimistic tack, literally beginning his remarks with, "I wish I had better news for you, but… All is not well in America. America is adrift. Something is clearly wrong." He went on to lament the "undercurrent of unease" in places like Ferguson, Missouri. From his prepared remarks:

There is a tension that has become visible in the protests in every major American city. As Congressman John Lewis put it: "There is a growing discontent in this country. "

I think peace will come when those of us who have enjoyed the American Dream become aware of those who are missing out on the American Dream. The future of our country will be secure when we break down the wall that separates us from "the other America."

Like Ernst, Paul took aim at Obamacare, saying it "takes away a patient's right to choose" and blasting the president for lying when he said people could keep their doctors if they liked them. But unlike Ernst, he proceded to touch on a series of libertarian hot buttons: ending corporate welfare, forcing Congress to live under the laws it passes, protecting Americans from government snooping, and—a new twist?—auditing the Pentagon.

The Tea Party response came from newly elected Florida Rep. Curt Clawson. He was more upbeat, talking up the importance of "embracing diversity," saying "we are all the same," and even breaking into Spanish at one point. Of course, he was careful to limit his plaudits to legal immigrants, adding that securing our border must come first. Still, with the president's approval rating inching up for the first time in months, Clawson's "happy warrior" tone was an interesting (and probably clever) choice.

NEXT: Watch (and Read) Rand Paul's Full State of the Union Rebuttal Here

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. she said she had “only one good pair of shoes.”

    So, she admits she had more than one pair of shoes.



    1. No one needs 2 pairs of shoes. Well, you know except for ‘important people’ like Nancy Pelosi and Al Gore. Just ask any proggie.

  2. Chimpanzees responding to chimpanzees. Yawn.

    1. At least Obama has a good speaking voice. Hers was as flat as an Iowa cornfield.

      1. Didn’t watch either but not surprising that the party who has Boehner as a leader has someone equally uncharasmatic doing the rebuttal.

  3. But how do you rebut that which has no buttal to begin with?

    Other than looking frankly into the camera and telling viewers, “These proposals are so insubstantial and unserious that to believe them, you’d have to be bigger fools than the president already thinks you are.”

    1. I sooo want to see a My Cousin Vinnie rebuttal to a STOTUS.

      “Everything that guy said was bullcrap.” [sits down, camera cuts away]

    2. *drops mic and walks away*

  4. ‘It’s tough to argue against common sense, so it’s good that Joni Ernst (R-IA) chose not to respond to the SOTU. In pressing ahead with their own agenda, the Republican Party revealed its true priority — to act as corporate puppets in hopes of having their future campaigns paid for by the Koch brothers and their subsidiaries, no matter the cost to the environment, health, or long-term job growth.
    “Our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999. Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis. More of our kids are graduating than ever before; more of our people are insured than ever before; we are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we’ve been in almost 30 years.”
    Would have loved to see a Republican president accomplish this^, but somehow, I doubt they’d have it in them. ?#?Obama? ?#?SOTU? ?#?Nailedit?”

    The derp begins.

    1. 28% unemployed….. fucking 28%

    2. You left out “Evil” as in EvilKockbrothers. Contact Harry Reid for the correct spelling.

  5. Did any of the speakers actually “respond” to the SOTU speech?

  6. where she said she had “only one good pair of shoes.”

    Do you need more than one?

    1. Women seem to think they do.
      Myself, I had only one pair of shoes period when I was a kid.

      1. yeah and i would even duct tape them up to keep em going because we only got new ones if we bought em ourselves with allowance money

  7. Our economy is growing and creating jobs at a marginally faster rate after six years of Democrat control. Our LFP rate is now lower than it was before 1978. More of our kids are graduating with debts higher than ever before; our people are paying more to stay insured than ever before, and even paying to remain uninsured; we are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we’ve been in almost 30 years, no thanks at all to a Democrat-controlled Congress and White House hostile to the very inputs by which oil prices have fallen so dramatically.

  8. I was sorely disappointed at the lack of squealing.

  9. I don’t really understand why viewers put up with the film industry petting itself at the Academy Awards and I don’t understand putting up with watching the President self-gratify in the same way.

    At least give me a streaking. A really sweaty, slippery, jiggly, streak.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.