WASHINGTON (CN) – Defeat for Democrats looms in the Senate impeachment trial, and the party struggled with tech problems during the Iowa caucus, but Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer assured Americans during her rebuttal to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union that Democrats across the country are “getting things done.”
The Democratic governor’s brief speech followed Trump’s address, which ran about 75 minutes and was punctuated by frequent standing ovations from GOP lawmakers. While the president – who stayed on script and made no mention of impeachment – lead with the economy, Whitmer zeroed in on infrastructure.
“Bullying people on Twitter doesn’t fix bridges, it burns them. Our energy should be used to solve problems,” Whitmer said.
Praising Democratic governors and lawmakers across the country, Whitmer said the party is taking action to rebuild bridges, fix roads, expand broadband and clean up drinking water.
“Congressional Democrats have presented proposals to keep us moving forward, but President Trump and the Republicans in the Senate are blocking the path,” Whitmer said.
GOP senators ahead of the State of the Union said they hoped Trump would stay on message and not drag the divisiveness of impeachment into his address.
Delivering a slow-paced speech, following word-for-word with his prepared remarks, Trump made no mention of his acquittal expected to be delivered by the Republican majority in the Senate on the final day of the impeachment trial Wednesday.
But Whitmer in her closing waded into what Republicans this week have described as a presidential impeachment mired with unprecedented partisanship.
“As we witness the impeachment process in Washington, there are some things each of us, no matter our party, should demand. The truth matters. Facts matter. And no one should be above the law,” the governor said. “It’s not what those senators say tomorrow, it’s what they do that matters.”
Like the 2019 Democratic responder, Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, Whitmer is a Washington outsider.
In 2016, Trump carried an unexpected win in Michigan with fewer than 11,000 votes. An electoral victory in Whitmer’s home state will be essential for 2020 Democrats vying to take back the White House.
Early in his address Tuesday, Trump said he has revived the American economy by “slashing a record number of job killing-regulations, enacting historic and record-setting tax cuts, and fighting for fair and reciprocal trade agreements.”
The president claimed unemployment was at an all-time low. But Whitmer said that in Michigan and the neighboring states of Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania, wages are stagnant as salaries for CEOs skyrockets.
“So when the president says the economy is strong, my question is, strong for whom? Strong for the wealthy who are reaping rewards from tax cuts they don’t need,” Whitmer said.
The governor proudly proclaimed that Michigan invented the middle class.
“So we know if the economy doesn’t work for working people, it just doesn’t work,” she said. “Who fights for working, hard-working Americans? Democrats do.”
Turning to health care, Whitmer said that although Democrats running for president may have different health care plans, they all share the same goal of expanding coverage for all Americans.
“Trump sadly has a different plan,” Whitmer said. “He’s asking the courts to rip those life-saving protections away. It’s pretty simple. Democrats are trying to make your health care better, Republicans in Washington are trying to take it away.”
Whitmer delivered the address from East Lansing High School in Lansing, Michigan, where her two daughters attend. Representative Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, gave a televised Democratic Spanish-language rebuttal to Trump’s address. Both women are in their first term, as is Representative Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., who spoke Tuesday night on behalf of the progressive Working Families Party.
Pressley was among nine Democrats who boycotted the State of the Union.
Before her remarks Tuesday night, Whitmer tweeted a GIF of the DC Comics character Superwoman captioned: “Current mood.”
“It’s time for action,” the governor said. “Generations of Americans are counting on us. Let’s not let them down.”