DES MOINES, Iowa — Just minutes after Republican officials announced that Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan would give the GOP’s official response to President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday, it was announced that he won’t be the only one.
Rep. Michele Bachmann will give her own State of the Union response, according to an email sent to supporters by the Tea Party Express. The group will host Bachmann’s rebuttal online on its own website.
Surely a competing response would rankle at GOP leaders in the House though, right? Well, they say no.
“Whether it is through a press release, Twitter, the internet, on television, radio, via Facebook, or by other means, virtually every Member of Congress will share their thoughts on the President’s State of the Union,” said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner.
Typically everyone in the House and Senate responds in some way to the speech, usually through being quoted in their local affiliated media. That’s what happened last year for everyone in Minnesota — either talking in person or by phone to a reporter or by issuing a statement. Many will go for on-camera interviews in Statuary Hall with TV and radio networks from across the country or around the world.
But solo responses clearly fashioned on (and, to some political minds, competing with) the official rebuttal? That’s very rare indeed.
Leadership aides said Bachmann’s staff told them the Tea Party Express response has been in the works for weeks, so this doesn’t come as a surprise to them. Still, Democrats couldn’t resist tweaking Republicans over the announced speakers.
“A man who wants to eliminate Social Security and Medicare,” wrote Jon Summers, spokesman for Harry Reid, in an emailed statement. “A woman who called the president ‘anti-American.’ Extreme ideas and extreme rhetoric. That tells you all you need to know about the current state of the Republican Party.”