Washington — President Trump’s third State of the Union address focused on the strength of the U.S. economy, the hot job market and trade deals.

It drew heavy applause and chants of “four more years” from the Republican members of Congress filling the chamber of the House. But Connecticut’s Democratic lawmakers called the address a campaign speech. They accused the president of breaking his promises and said the economy is not helping most Americans.

And when Trump defended gun rights, Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-5th District, bolted for the door.

Immediately after the speech, Sen. Chris Murphy, tweeted that he regretted attending.

“That was a disgrace,” Murphy said. “I should not have gone. It was a re-election pep rally from beginning to end, filled with political stunts and verifiable lie after verifiable lie. I get it,” Murphy continued, ” — presidents use their last SOTU to make the case for re-election. But that crossed a line.”

Trump returned to a favorite theme, that he was “making America great again.”

“In just three short years, we have shattered the mentality of American decline and we have rejected the downsizing of America’s destiny,” Trump said to heavy applause. He ticked off a list of accomplishments, including that his administration has poured trillions of dollars into building up the country’s military might.

He was addressing the nation the evening before the Senate is expected to acquit him of impeachment charges based on his dealings with Ukraine. But Trump made no mention of his impeachment, which has consumed Congress for weeks. He focused instead on the economy and other issues, including many that appeal to his Republican base, including opposition to abortion, support for the Second Amendment and support of prayer in school.

While Trump bragged about a “blue collar boom.” Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, said the president “touted an economy that’s illusionary.”

“It works for the wealthy, but it is an illusion for the middle-class,” Larson said. “His economic policies are leaving the majority of Americans behind. He’s been focused on the stock market and 401ks, while neglecting the inequality and economic insecurity faced by too many.”

Conservative radio show host Rush Limbaugh reacts to being told he will receive the Medal of Freedom.

Trump surprised his audience of lawmakers, their guests, cabinet members and other VIPS by presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to conservative radio show host Rush Limbaugh, who is seriously ill with cancer.

He also recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as “the true and legitimate president of Venezuela,” eliciting a rare moment of bipartisan applause.

The president also spoke about health care: “We will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions,” he said. He also touted his administration’s success at bringing the cost of prescription drugs down.

But Democrats, who have made the failings of the nation’s healthcare system a top issue in their campaigns, were ready for that. Before the speech, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a press conference where she introduced her guests, twins from San Francisco who are diabetic and patient advocates.

Pelosi said Trump would “desperately try to distract the American people from the reality of his all-out assault on health care.” She said “the public won’t be fooled” because he has tried to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

At the end of the president’s address, Pelosi, who had sat behind Trump, tore his speech in two.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, also invited a diabetic, Kristen Whitney-Daniels of Shelton, who has had to ration her insulin since she turned 26 and could no longer remain on her parents’ health insurance policy. She volunteers for an organization that fights to bring down the cost of insulin and said this was the first time she visited Washington D.C. as an advocate.

“I think it’s clear that the American people care about health care, that’s a number one priority, Whitney Daniels said.

Trump called Democratic Medicare for All plans “a socialist takeover of our healthcare system.”

Democratic congresswomen wore white.

DeLauro, like many Democratic female lawmakers, wore white in honor of the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote. She was skeptical of Trump’s vow to lower the cost of prescription drugs. “He’s gone back on every promise,” she said.

The president also turned to a favorite, but divisive, theme – immigration.

He spoke of “a long, tall, and very powerful wall” that he said is under construction along the U.S.- Mexico border. He slammed  “sanctuary cities” like New York that don’t hold all undocumented immigrants whose jail terms are finished so that federal immigration officials can take them into custody. Several Connecticut towns and cities have adopted this policy, as has the state.

“Tragically, there are many cities in America where radical politicians have chosen to provide sanctuary for these criminal illegal aliens,” Trump said.

To Connecticut’s Sen. Richard Blumenthal, the president’s  “small gestures toward bipartisanship” were  “vastly outweighed by lies about healthcare, incendiary insults about immigrants, and fake boasts claiming credit for economic progress.”

The president also talked about “lifting” people off welfare and food stamps. Republican lawmakers cheered, but Democratic grumbling was heard, with one lawmaker blurting out “no.”

The president also vowed to “always protect your Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.” That’s when Hayes got up from her seat and left the chamber.

As a counterpoint to Trump’s pro-gun stance, Murphy invited Deborah Davis, an organizer with the Hartford-based Mothers United Against Violence, to attend the address. Davis lost her son to gun fire in 2010. ”We are hoping that the president can see [gun safety] as a movement,” said Davis before the speech.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer delivered the Democratic response and Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, gave a separate Democratic response in Spanish from a health center in El Paso.

The Democratic women focused on their party’s efforts to the rebuild nation’s infrastructure, reduce gun violence and improve access to health care.

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Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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12 Comments

  1. Once a week my wife and self go to the state ran gun range in wateree sc.while talking with some new friend at the range the subject came to politics.I was surprised and almost fell over when the mention of Murphy and Bluminthal and how these two were so negatively viewed.The country is watching and these two our an embarrassment to the Ct and to our country.

  2. Lets face it: Connecticut Dems don’t like anything anyone does who’s a little to the right of Mao Tse Tung. This state is hopelessly locked in one party rule and drifting further left by the year. And see how well we’re doing here as a result?

    Its really depressing to watch our once great state being driven into the ditch by leftist “leaders” at the state and national level.

  3. One Senator lies about ‘incendiary insults about immigrants’ (equating illegal aliens with legal immigrants). One Senator who says he shouldn’t have gone. A Representative who bolts for the door when POTUS defends a Right guaranteed by the Second Amendment. Another long-time Representative denies that the middle class has grown and the lower end of the economic scale have made great strides. None of them standing or even clapping for several items very worthy of celebrating.

    In other words, typically despicable reactions from CT’s National politicians. Their venomous hatred for this President and Republicans in general, make me disgusted to say I’m from CT.

  4. The Democrat’s response was petty and embarrassing. Since taking over the house 2 years ago, they have been obsessed with getting rid of President Trump, and have done nothing to improve the lives of Americans. Nothing to improve the nation’s infrastructure, nothing to lower prescription drug prices, nothing to improve border security, etc. As far as my Congressional Representative, Jahana Hayes is concerned – keep walking and go away.

    1. ask Mitch McConnell.
      The House sent a major transportation bill to the Senate last November.

      and the Senate Republicans and the drug industry were heavily opposed to the lower prescription bill the House sent to the Senate. and Trump said he would have vetoed it anyway.

      Google the list of bills sitting on McConnell’s desk, not even being put up for discussion. It is extensive.

  5. What bothers me the most about our representatives response to President Trump’s speech is the complete lack of civil discourse, the name calling, the personal attacks and the failure to address his remarks in a clear, objective, rational manner. Hayes walking out is the epitome of the Democrats total lack of appropriate response in a legislative body designed for debate and discussion. Anyone voting for these people is voting to continue this childish behavior.

    1. Jim, you never answered my question from other post – If Obama did what Trump did, would you still be against impeachment?
      How about Sean Hannity?
      “Name calling” and “personal attacks” …… seriously Jim

    2. Jim, you never answered my question from other post – If Obama did what Trump did, would you still be against impeachment?
      How about Sean Hannity?
      “Name calling” and “personal attacks” …… seriously Jim

      1. I did not see the other post. I generally disagree with your point of view but.if the question is if Obama had made the same phone call, no, he should not have been impeached. There were many other actions by.Obama that were impeachable offenses. And if you don’t believe Blumenthal’s words are not personal attacks lacking in substantive argument, then we.are.living in two different universes

      2. Really!? Reading your comments, you wouldn’t be for Obama impeachment for that call? Wow. Much.mych.much bigger wow for what are “many other actions by Obama that were impeachable”. I’ m sure lots of folks would like to know. What are those?
        Re. BLUM personal attacks, I just find it both hilarious and mind boggling a Trump supporter can even utter those words.

  6. What I take exception to is the attack-dog stances that our elected officials from Connecticut are constantly relegated to by their party bosses or put themselves in of their own accord. So undignified! How I miss the elder statesmen demeanor and moral authority of Joe Lieberman. I say these guys start talking like adults or we trade them in for a new batch that perhaps the Democratic party won’t take for granted.

    1. I curious as to your opinion of trump’s name-calling and mocking a disabled reporter. Or how about sleeping with an adult film actress weeks after his child was born? Or how about bragging he can, “…grab them by the p***y.”? The GOP and their supporters are quick to clutch their pearls when Pelosi tears a stack of papers but it’s business as usual whenever trump or his cronies resort to infantile name-calling or any of their other morally-bankrupt antics.

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