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Kim Reynolds

Did Kim Reynolds do a good job responding to Joe Biden’s SOTU?

It is easy for Americans to overlook the accomplishments of Governor Kim Reynolds due to the fact she governs Iowa. For her outstanding performance in pushing back against Covidstan policies more proactively than most republican governors, she placed second in the 2021 Gubernatorial Power Rankings 

Even in 2022, the Iowa has several bills in the pipeline designed which, if passed, would continue the progress Reynolds has made as governor. In schools, while the committees take up school choice legislation, there is Senate File 2205 which would ban transgenders in women’s sports, Senate File 2289, which would criminalize sexually explicit materials in schools, and  Senate File 2205, which functions as a Parental Bill of Rights similarly to SF2289. Against Covid, Iowa has HSB 647, which bans businesses, schools, and governments from implementing mask requirements as well as prohibits employers from inquiring of vaccine status and mandating masks for their employees. Other bills against Covid working their way through the funnel include House File 2203, which allows terminally ill patients to access off label drugs (ivermectin) and SF 2235, which bans vaccination of minors without parental consent. All told, there is a strong legislative push this session for Reynolds to continue her work.

Kim Reynolds Rebuttal

Governor Reynolds begins her speech by stating that Biden has “sent us back in time, to the late 70’s and early 80’s” where America was suffering from inflation, crime, and the threat of the Soviet Union. After declaring that Biden both failed to demand the international respect of America and unify the country, she immediately touts his failed foreign policy in the past year from Afghanistan to Ukraine. She expresses support for the Ukrainian people in their “fight for freedom” while noting the policies which empowered Putin’s invasion, including the military’s “focus on political correctness rather than military readiness.” Reynolds concludes her critique of Biden’s foreign policy failures by stating that “We can’t project strength abroad if we’re weak at home.”

She then shifts her speech to the economic problems in America, primarily inflation and government spending. Reynolds contends that these are the concerns that keep Americans up at night and government programs are not what the average American views as the solution. Reynolds states that “bankrupting their children” and “billions in tax giveaways” to millionaires in Blue States are the solutions pitched by the Biden Administration via “Build Back Better.”

Reynolds then condemns the “political class” for “trying to remake this country” via ideologies which include Critical Race Theory, through Big Tech censorship, and through schools, and through their politicians’ hypocrisy with regards to Covid policies. On crime, she accused the Biden Administration of “treating parents like domestic terrorists, but looters and shoplifters roam free.” Overall, Reynolds touts that Biden has failed to live up to his promise and that his rhetoric does not match his record.

Reynolds then proceeds to pitch the Republican Party to the American people, describing a different vision they take with regards to Covid policies, with emphasis on schools, border security, fiscal policies, and their stronger state economies. She states that “Republicans may not have the White House, but we’re doing what we can to fill the leadership vacuum.”

Concluding her speech, she touts that she has placed her faith in her people, and emphasizing that Republicans stand for freedom, both economic and personal. Finishing her speech, she declares, in similar fashion to Biden, that the “state of our union is indeed strong.”

Analysis

Last year, this duty was given to Tim Scott, so Republican media could “own the libs” for bashing a black republican senator. This year they choose Governor Reynolds because Team GOP wanted someone to tout their success on Covid, contrasting with the offramp which the Biden Administration shamelessly took in the leadup. I believe it was designed to appeal to moderate and independent Americans while articulating a staunch conservative message to a mainstream audience. Reynolds kept it safe, not taking any risks in her words while only speaking for about fourteen minutes. Her soft yet competent tone should contrast well with that of Biden, who stammered throughout his speech. From a tonal standpoint, Team GOP seeks a soft-spoken approach, likely to appeal to suburban women, which Reynolds delivers.

With regards to her opening comments on Ukraine and her Ukrainian flag lapel, it is unfortunate that the average American is ignorant on their government’s nefarious actions which provoked the Russian invasion, but too many are afraid to swallow that pill or articulate it on a national stage. It probably is not the best choice for an Iowa governor to counter the narrative on this issue as that would serve as a distraction. Nevertheless, her critique of Biden’s international weakness incentivizing aggression is correct.

Economically, it was expected that Reynolds would hammer inflation that Americans have experienced over the past year. Americans who watched Biden suggest various government means to curb inflation probably came away confused—as government spending is the primary driver of inflation. Biden’s speech was designed to obfuscate and deflect the issue while Reynolds contended a laisse faire approach.

Her pitch of the Republican Party to America was unconvincing, not because of her arguments, but because only a handful of Republican governors are comparable to Kim Reynolds. Few Americans would come away from her speech thinking that the Republicans truly offer a different vision because majority of the states have Republican governors and legislatures, with twenty-three states having trifectas. They see firsthand either the incompetence of their party or its active subversion to the will of the people. There is an adage that “Americans don’t like Democrats, but they don’t trust Republicans.” Such mantra is alive and thriving in the electorate. Furthermore, while it might be cliché to describe the state of the union as strong, nothing could be further from the truth. 78% of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction while 70% think the economy is getting worse. The state of the union is turmoil, and that needs to be the attitude of Team GOP.

For Governor Reynolds, this speech gives her the national profile she needs and hopefully added name recognition. While I do not think she possesses the charisma or tonal aggression necessary to win the Oval Office, she would be a very strong VP candidate come 2024.

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