Republicans dismayed with their party's SOTU rebuttal

Plus, tracking Ohio's most reactionary Senate candidate.

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The Republican rebuttal to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address, presented by Sen. Katie Britt (R-AL), did not go as planned. Britt, who delivered a speech from her kitchen table, was a stark contrast to Biden’s authoritative, hopeful rhetoric. While Biden spoke to the revival of the American economy and the challenges the country has overcome in recent years, Britt’s awkward, forced cadence focused on the brewing immigration crisis as evidence of imperial decline. 

“Right now, the American Dream has turned into a nightmare for so many families. The true, unvarnished state of our union begins and ends with this. Our families are hurting. Our country can do better. And you don't have to look any further than the crisis at our southern border,” Britt, who has found support from the Trumpian right and the McConnell-led establishment, said in a breathy, mechanical manner. 

“This crisis is despicable. And the truth is it is almost entirely preventable. From fentanyl poisonings to horrific murders, there are empty chairs tonight at kitchen tables, just like this one because of President Biden's senseless border policies,” she added, each syllable feeling as scripted as the next.   

Even Republican operatives were upset with the speech: “Everyone’s fucking losing it. It’s one of our biggest disasters ever,” an anonymous GOP member told The Daily Beast. 

“No one was surprised that McConnell’s handpicked senator resonated so poorly with the base,” an anonymous member of Trump’s inner circle added.“But her performance was the stuff of nightmares and people were surprised by that,” they continued. 

Allie Beth Stuckey, a conservative social media figure, agreed. If the Republicans were hoping this would help them win over independents and center-right women, the intentions didn’t offset the delivery, which she described as “parody-level terrible, and I promise that didn’t sway any of those suburban moms we’re trying to reach," she said in a post on X. 

By comparison, Biden seemed to offer a much more appealing pitch to voters as the 2024 election looms. “I’ll give Biden this — he at least gave a better speech than Katie Britt,” a GOP consultant explained to Rolling Stone. 

On the Campaign Trail

Frank LaRose, an Ohio Republican looking to unseat Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), downplayed the impact of his anti-trans positions in a recent interview with a local TV station. When asked if he was “concerned that supporting an anti-transgender platform” would be harmful, LaRose rejected the framing. 

"What causes children harm is when adults bring their ideology into this conversation,” LaRose said. “If you're a grown-up and you want to go see a surgeon, you're free to do that. I don't understand it, but it's your freedom to do it." 

"Leave the kids alone,” he continued. “Kids are not allowed to get a tattoo or even something like a piercing without parental approval. Certainly, an irrevocable change to someone's body absolutely should not be allowed for children."

No Candidate for No Labels

The centrist group No Labels, which seeks to moderate what they perceive as “extremism on both sides,” announced that while they have not selected a candidate to challenge President Joe Biden and Donald Trump in November’s election, they will continue moving forward to find the right fit for their insurgent campaign. 

Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-WV) and former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) were seen as potential options for the ticket, but they declined to join the group’s efforts.

“It is possible in the end we won’t find suitable candidates. We all realize that,” said Mike Rawlings, the CEO of Pizza Hut and one of the key leaders behind No Labels, during a Zoom call with potential delegates. “We have always said it is going to take a lot of courage to do this. We are not just going to settle for anyone.” 

This could be good news for Democrats and “Never Trump” Republicans, who fear that a seemingly viable third-party option could undermine Biden’s chances of defeating Donald Trump once and for all. 

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Jamie Larson