Kim Reynolds Will Give the Republican Response to the State of the Union

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds speaks during the largely virtual 2020 Republican National Convention broadcast from Washington, D.C., August 25, 2020. (Republican National Convention/Handout via Reuters)

Now that Democrats have relented on their ridiculous, self-defeating plan to bar most of Congress from attending Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address on March 1, the speech will look more like a conventional State of the Union, albeit one delivered by a fading 79-year-old man who will undoubtedly be graded on a curve. Republican leaders have now selected Iowa governor Kim Reynolds for their response. It’s a bland choice. Reynolds is not a notably dynamic speaker, and instead will seek to project Upper Midwestern calm. She is one of three female Republican governors, less polarizing than Kristi Noem and younger than Kay Ivey, who is facing a primary challenge back in Alabama. With Republicans targeting Democratic governors in Kansas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan this year, Reynolds makes a certain amount of regional sense. For Reynolds, it may also be a low-key way to introduce herself nationally in the hopes of positioning herself as a potential vice-presidential choice. In the end, however, the State of the Union response is rarely much help to the party’s message or to anyone’s career. Bob McDonnell, before his career imploded in scandal, at least had the right idea: The speech should, like the one it responds to, be given before a live audience rather than the traditional stare into a camera in an empty room.

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