On Tuesday night, President Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union address to Congress and the nation. And a number of the women candidates featured in our Running Women project, which spotlights 15 women’s campaigns, took the opportunity to criticize or praise the man who has pushed record numbers of women to run for office.
New Mexico Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is now running for governor of her state, said that, while she is glad Trump acknowledges problems like the opioid crisis, she remains concerned that he “will continue to let rhetoric displace action,” arguing that his administration has yet to make tangible progress. She also criticized his administration’s lack of assistance to hurricane victims in Puerto Rico, many of whom are still without power, and failure to reduce healthcare costs. She declared, “New Mexicans are finished waiting and so am I.”
Democrat U.S. House candidates Haley Stevens of Michigan and Regina Bateson of California used the opportunity to voice their opposition to Trump’s policies and behavior in a more general sense, rather than focusing on the contents of the speech.
Both delivered their statements through social media. Stevens tweeted fighting words: “We refuse to let fear determine reactionary policies that will impact generation to come. Now is the time to celebrate our diversity and the strength of our communities and realize this is what makes America truly great.”
Fayrouz Saad, a fellow Democrat competing for the same congressional seat Stevens seeks, responded to the president’s effort to project unity with his speech, after a year marked by widespread discord. She tweeted: “Donald Trump tonight talked about the State of Our Union. He said it’s strong. His actions make us weaker, and I know that together we can fight back, resist, and push forward with a bold progressive agenda once more.”
Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, appearing Wednesday evening on the BET television show “Angela Rye’s State of the Union” in an episode that also featured Congresswoman Maxine Waters, did not mince words in her reaction to Trump’s calls for unity and bipartisan cooperation. “The reality is, this is a hardened racist who has been consistent for the last 40 years in his divisiveness and his disregard for the humanity of people he’s been elected to serve,” she said.
Not all of the Running Women candidates were unhappy with President Trump’s address, however. Republican Kimberlin Brown, who is also running for a congressional seat from California, and Lena Epstein, who is in the same Michigan congressional race as Saad and Stevens, applauded the speech, using terms like “inspiring,” “powerful,” and “patriotic” in their statements.
Both women praised Trump’s accomplishments over the past year. Epstein wrote in posts shared on Twitter and Facebook that “2017 showed that America First policies stimulated economic growth, created jobs, and cut taxes for the middle class.” Brown agreed that “America has seen so much growth in the last year.” They both punctuated their statements with expressions of confidence that the Trump administration will continue to “Make America Great Again.”