Sanders delivered the Republican response to Biden’s State of the Union speech in front of a joint session of congress on Tuesday. Sanders, 40, is the youngest governor in the United States and served in the Trump administration as White House press secretary.
In a 15-minute speech following Biden’s address, which ran roughly 70 minutes, Sanders contrasted Republicans’ agenda with the president’s. She leaned into what she called a “left-wing culture war” and denounced Biden and Democrats for being “highjacked by the radical Left.” The Arkansas governor framed the differences between the two parties as those between normalcy and radicalism.
“I’ll be the first to admit: President Biden and I don’t have a lot in common. I’m for freedom, he’s for government control. At 40, I’m the youngest governor in the country, and at 80, he’s the oldest president in American history,” Sanders said. “I’m the first woman to lead my state, and he’s the first man to surrender his presidency to a woke mob who can’t even tell you what a woman is.”
“In the radical Left’s America, Washington taxes you and lights your hard-earned money on fire. But you get crushed with high gas prices, empty grocery shelves, and our children are taught to hate one another on account of their race, but not to love one another or our great country,” she continued. “The dividing line in America is no longer between Right or Left. The choice is between normal and crazy.”
Sanders went on to tout her own record as governor, despite taking office less than a month ago. The Arkansas governor mentioned her efforts to combat Critical Race Theory in education, ban the term “Latinx” in the state government, and take action against COVID regulations and lockdown measures.
While she and Republicans push an agenda for freedom, she said that the Democrats are “doubling down on crazy.” She accused Biden of squandering a ready-made economic recovery coming out of COVID lockdowns, destroying border security, and upending a stable global order.
Sanders attacked Biden’s immigration policies and the amount of illegal drugs coming over the southern border, especially fentanyl. She also accused Democrats of tearing down law enforcement and law and order through lax criminal justice policies.
“Violent criminals roam free while law abiding families live in fear,” Sanders said.
She called Biden’s posture toward China “dangerous and unacceptable” after the Biden administration allowed what Pentagon officials believed to be a Chinese spy balloon to drift over the United States for days before shooting it down in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Arkansas governor accused Democrats of aggressing in a “culture war” and pushing “woke fantasies” instead of “hard reality.”
“We are under attack in a left-wing culture war we didn’t start and never wanted to fight. Every day we are told we must partake in their rituals, salute their flags, and worship their false idols. All while big government colludes with big tech to strip away the most American thing there is: your freedom of speech,” Sanders said.
She touted the Republican agenda as one of strong communities and abundant jobs. She touted the GOP’s vision for the country as one where freedom is every American’s “birthright.” The United States’ history and story is one of immense racial progress, she said, referencing the “Little Rock Nine,” the first black students enrolled in Little Rock’s Central High School in 1957.
Building off of school desegregation, Sanders said that access to a quality education for every child is “the civil rights issue of our day,” promising “bold, conservative” legislation this week to improve parents’ options for their child’s education, as well as improving public schools and teachers’ salaries.
Toward the end of her speech, Sanders recounted a Christmas trip she took as White House press secretary under former President Trump. On Christmas Day in 2018, she boarded Air Force One with the president and flew to Iraq. As the president and his team entered a dining hall filled with hundreds of troops, the soldiers began to chant “USA!” in what Sanders called “an absolutely perfect picture of what makes our country great.”
Throughout the story, Sanders never mentioned Trump by name, only referring to him simply as “president.”
“America is great because we are free, but today our freedom is under attack and the America we love is in danger. President Biden and the Democrats have failed you, and it’s time for a change,” she said.
“A new generation of Republican leaders are stepping up, not to be caretakers of the status quo, but to be change-makers for the American people,” she said.