They scowled as President Trump touted soaring jobs numbers, sat stone-faced when he honored veterans, and one even walked out after becoming triggered by a patriotic chant.
Democrats at President Trump’s first State of the Union, after a year of partisan rancor, showed they were in no mood to accept his call for bipartisanship.
“Tonight, I call on all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people,” Trump said. “This is really the key. These are the people we are elected to serve.”
The call was met with one of more than 100 rounds of applause – but from just one side of the aisle. While Trump has undeniably contributed to the division in Washington, the images of petulant partisans seething at feel-good rhetoric was jarring for many observers.
Why are @TheDemocrats not applauding job growth, higher wages and the drop in Latino and African-American unemployment?
I thought economic success is good for everyone regardless of party. #SOTU
— Frank Luntz (@FrankLuntz) January 31, 2018
“Why are @TheDemocrats not applauding job growth, higher wages and the drop in Latino and African-American unemployment?” pollster Frank Luntz asked in a tweet. “I thought economic success is good for everyone regardless of party.”
Rep. Luis Gutierrez walked out after chants of “USA, USA!” erupted in the House chamber of the Capitol Building. After the speech, the Illinois Democrat quipped that, “whoever translated it for him from Russian did a good job.”
Entire row of Democrats refusing to stand for family whose two girls were murdered by MS-13 #SOTU
— Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich) January 31, 2018
Afterward, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said Trump’s call for unity, after a year of “divisive actions, petty insults and disgraceful race-baiting … ring hollow.”
The Congressional Black Caucus led the opposition, as expected. The roughly 45-member, all-Democrat group vowed early Tuesday to show their discontent with Trump’s policies and his reported derogatory remarks about African nations.
Members during the address chose not to stand when Trump honored Louisiana Republican Rep. Steve Scalise and praised his resolve for returning to work less than four months after he “took a bullet” from a gunman and “almost died.”
And they chose not join in the applause for a 12-year-old boy in the gallery whom Trump praised for putting flags on soldiers’ graves on Veterans Day.
“Democrats are no longer just the party of resistance and obstruction, they are now also the party of sitting on their hands,” said the Republican National Committee. “No matter the issue, Democrats chose to sit on their hands tonight.”
There were three notable exceptions among Democrat senators. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., all red state Democrats facing tough re-election bids in November, stood and applauded multiple times.