Republicans Irked By Obama Zinger In State Of The Union Address

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Republicans were irked by President Barack Obama’s caustic reminder in his State of the Union speech that he defeated them twice.

“I’ve run my last campaign,” Obama said toward the end of the nationally televised address. Republicans in the chamber applauded derisively, which prompted the president to ad-lib a zinger which wasn’t in his prepared remarks: “I know because I won both of them.”

Democrats erupted with applause.

In the Capitol after the speech, Republicans expressed displeasure at being jabbed by the president in the same speech where he asked for their cooperation.

“Probably not helpful when you rub the other guy’s nose in the dirt a little bit,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), a close ally of Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), told reporters.

“Look, he’s allowed to take a victory lap but he ought to be thinking about what works — what’s gonna help me actually put points on the board,” Cole said. “How are you going to define your legacy in the last two years. Is this all about a third Obama term by winning the presidency? Then that would suggest you just want confrontation and the ability for your nominee to attack a ‘do nothing right wing Congress.'”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) called Obama’s jab — and overall speech — “disappointing,” pointing to the Democrats’ crushing defeat in the November congressional elections.

“If the president sticks to the tone that he chose tonight — if he sticks to anger and defiance towards the American voters, then perhaps he will veto bill after bill after bill after bill,” Cruz told a scrum of reporters. “But if he chooses to embrace and revel in gridlock and obstructionism that will be an unfortunate choice and I hope he reconsiders.”

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) was less troubled by Obama’s line, calling it “an interesting throwaway.”

“It was kind of like he got back in campaign mode and did that. And so that’s all I make of it,” she told TPM.

Senate Energy Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said Obama’s remarks did not make her feel “warm and fuzzy” about having to work with him for the next two years.

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), the chief deputy whip, was actively avoiding reporters when TPM caught up with him and asked for his response to Obama’s jab.

“It’s uh — it’s factually accurate,” he deadpanned, and walked away.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), No. 4 in House GOP leadership, told TPM she was “disappointed” in the president when asked about the swipe.

Democrats, on the other hand, were openly giddy that Obama threw a punch at the GOP as millions of Americans watched on live television.

“So refreshing,” Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) said with a smile. “I’m glad we saw it. Not having to run for reelection sometimes incentivizes the ad-lib.”

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, was also happy with Obama’s reminder to the GOP.

“I think everybody needs to be reminded of a few things,” he said with a smirk and a laugh. “When he said ‘I’m not going to be running again’ and they [the Republicans] started clapping, I think it was out of relief. … We don’t want to mess with that guy again!”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.
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