- Jonathan Tilove American-Statesman Staff
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Tuesday night praised President Donald Trump for using his State of the Union address to highlight the “stunning successes” of his first year in office, cutting taxes, reducing regulation and appointing conservative judges.
And, Cruz told Sean Hannity on Fox News, “it was stunning to watch Washington Democrats sit there stone-faced and refuse to applaud more jobs, higher wages, jobs coming back to America, refuse to applaud wins for the working men and women of America.”
U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, doing a Facebook live-stream on his walk back home from the Capitol after the speech, said there were, in the speech, possibilities for common ground on issues like infrastructure and jobs, and he appreciated hearing the stories of heroic Americans who were invited by the president to the speech.
Among them was Coast Guard Petty Officer Ashlee Leppert, who sat with First Lady Melania Trump, and who the president said, “was aboard one of the first helicopters on the scene in Houston during Hurricane Harvey. Through 18 hours of wind and rain, Ashlee braved live power lines and deep water, to help save more than 40 lives. Thank you, Ashlee.”
But O’Rourke, who brought Daisy, a 21-year-old Dreamer from El Paso, as his guest for the speech, said “there were some very dark moments in that speech, and immigration was among the darkest.”
O’Rourke said in his description of gang violence and crime victims, the president continued his practice of portraying immigrants in broadly menacing terms, and that he brought Daisy, who works at a Circle K convenience store full-time and part-time as a computer tech, as his own rebuttal to the kind of “incredibly calculating” rhetoric he knew Trump would invoke.
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, found the speech less provocative than usual for Trump, but no more encouraging about where he is leading the country.
“There is just a totally amazing gap between his tweets and his teleprompter readings,” Doggett said. “He’s full of love and unity and not the usual racist rant.”
But, Doggett said, “It’s not about the delivery of his speech, which I thought was pretty weak. It is whether he can deliver on any of his commitments, and he hasn’t done very good on that.”
“I think the state of the union under Trump is chaotic, divisive, with our democracy imperiled,” Doggett said. “Nothing tonight changed that. His call for love and unity and how we’re all one big, happy family ignores the fact that he has attacked parts of the American family.”
Doggett said Trump had failed to live up to his promises.
For example, he said, “I’ve been very involved on drug prices, which this time last year Trump said the drug companies were committing murder.”
“Tonight he told us that drug prices are going to be brought down,” Doggett said. “The only thing he’s done in a year is to entrust his drug policy to pharmaceutical executives. It’s rather indicative of the whole approach of the speech.”
Like Cruz, Sen. John Cornyn, Texas’ senior senator who is the number two Republican in the Senate, praised the president’s speech.
“Tonight’s State of the Union address from President Trump laid out big ideas and clear goals for the upcoming year,” Cornyn said. “I support his call for greater bipartisanship in pursuing priorities that increase opportunity and strengthen the foundation of America.”
“I’m encouraged by the president’s desire to rebuild our nation’s depleted infrastructure, and I look forward to working with him to enact policies that reduce red tape, while encouraging and incentivizing investment in our nation’s waterways, roads and ports,” Cornyn said.
U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, the first member of Congress to contribute to Trump’s presidential campaign, attending his last State of the Union as a member of Congress, said that, “President Trump has succeeded in carrying out many of his policy goals he laid out a year ago in his joint address to Congress.”
“Americans are better off – millions of jobs have been created, unemployment is at a 17-year low, consumer confidence is high and the stock market is breaking records,” he said. “The president’s policies are helping Americans get back to work, pay less in taxes, and build their retirement and savings accounts.”
U.S. Congressman Roger Williams, R-Austin, said that, “tonight, President Trump reminded us of what makes our nation great.”
“I have always said the federal government should do three things: collect our taxes, defend our borders, help us with infrastructure, and then get out of the way,” Williams said. “Right now, our economy is booming, and the president has acknowledged the need to fix our nation’s infrastructure. He is committed to rebuilding our military, and I believe we are on the right path to being stronger than ever before. Our country needs a commonsense business approach to government, and I am committed to working on an agenda that will benefit all Americans.”
“Tonight, President Trump articulated how our nation is growing stronger and more secure with unlimited potential for greater opportunity for hardworking Americans,” said Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan. “Lower taxes through bold tax reform, relief from regulatory headwinds and promoting energy dominance policies have set the stage for vibrant economic growth.”
“The state of our nation will continue to improve as we remain focused on creating opportunity for all Americans,” Flores said. “It is imperative that we enhance border security, find a solution for our Dreamer population and reform our broken immigration system.”
U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, taped a response from his office.
“I hope you can see the Capitol building right behind me,” Carter said, noting that the president, “pointed out as he finished his speech, that building belongs to the American people, and every day when I walk in there, I remember that. I’m glad the President reminded everybody in that room, it’s not about us; it’s about the American people who send us here.”
Meanwhile, back in Texas, Land Commissioner George P. Bush, whose father, Jeb, was the front-runner for the Republican nomination going into the 2016 presidential election, tweeted, “In 2016, I endorsed Donald Trump and campaigned for him because I believed he could help #MAGA. Tonight in his #SOTU he again showed why our country needed new direction. @txglo, I am enacting conservative reforms and working alongside the Trump agenda—thank you @POTUS.”
Bush is being challenged by his predecessor, Jerry Patterson, and two other candidates, in the March 6 primary.