Sarah Huckabee Sanders to deliver Republican response

  • In Business
  • 2023-02-07 08:56:56Z
  • By BBC
Sarah Huckabee Sanders in September 2017
Sarah Huckabee Sanders in September 2017  

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the youngest governor in the US, will deliver the Republican response to President Joe Biden's State of the Union address.

Mrs Sanders, 40, took the oath of office four weeks ago as the 47th - and first female - governor of the southern state of Arkansas.

But she is best known for her tenure as press secretary to former President Donald Trump from 2017 to 2019.

Her speech will come on the heels of Mr Biden's primetime address on Tuesday.

The State of the Union has been delivered every year since 1790, except in presidential inauguration years, but the history of the opposition's response is far more brief.

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The first response came in 1966, after Lyndon Johnson upgraded the annual address from a daytime event to a primetime slot. Guaranteed a much bigger audience than initially expected, Republicans seized the moment and established a new tradition.

Mr Biden is one of only four Americans to have delivered both the presidential address and the opposition response. Forty years ago, as the junior senator from Delaware, he participated in a 12-person Democratic Party response to Ronald Reagan.

The rebuttal is often delivered by young rising stars in the opposition party and frequently from outside of Washington.

Mrs Sanders is the youngest child of former Arkansas governor and two-time presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. The mother of three had a tumultuous White House tenure, in which she clashed frequently with members of the media, and faced personal attacks over her looks.

On Tuesday, she will speak from Little Rock, the state capital of Arkansas. She has promised to contrast her party's "optimistic vision for the future against the failures of President Biden and the Democrats".

"What America needs - and what Republicans are offering - is a return to common sense and a commitment to the ideals that made America the land of the free and home of the brave," she wrote on Twitter last week.

Also delivering a response to President Biden's State of the Union, but in Spanish, will be Juan Ciscomani, a newly-elected lawmaker in the US House of Representatives from Arizona.

Juan Ciscomani speaks on the House floor in January 2023
Juan Ciscomani speaks on the House floor in January 2023  

The Spanish response, a sign of Latino voters' growing importance in the US electorate, has taken place on and off since 2004.

Mr Ciscomani, 40, was born in Mexico and is the first foreign-born American elected to Congress from his state.

He sits as part of the new Republican majority in the House, a change from Mr Biden's first State of the Union last year, which came under unified Democratic control of Washington.

"My message will be simple and straightforward: the American Dream is a dream worth fighting for," Mr Ciscomani said in a statement. "The people of my district in Arizona and Americans across our country want accountability, responsibility and sensibility restored in our nation's capital."

During Mr Biden's tenure, others in his party have sought to make their voices heard during the primetime event.

At last year's State of the Union, Democratic House lawmakers delivered responses on behalf of the Working Families Party (WFP), the Congressional Black Caucus and the No Labels group.

Delia Ramirez at congressional orientation in November 2022
Delia Ramirez at congressional orientation in November 2022  

The WFP, a minor political party that is closely allied with Democrats ideologically to the left of their party, will again field a response to the president this year - by Congresswoman Delia Ramirez of Illinois.

Born to a Guatemalan mother who was pregnant with her when she crossed the US-Mexico border, Ms Ramirez, 39, is the first Latina elected to Congress from the Midwest region.

Along with progressive firebrands like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, she is considered a member of "the Squad" in Congress.

"I will be laying out a vision for how Democrats can win working-class voters of all races and nationalities by fighting for a government that has working people's backs," Ms Ramirez wrote on Twitter.


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