Pennsylvania candidates and elected officials sent the Delaware Valley Journal their reactions to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address Tuesday night.
As might be expected, their sentiments differed by their party.
“President Biden began his speech tonight with a good message about Ukraine,” said Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). I hope that his actions match his rhetoric and he will impose the comprehensive sanctions against Russia that I, and my Republican colleagues, have urged. The president then went on to rehash a mostly partisan, liberal wish list, including the tax-and-spend agenda that recently failed in Congress.
“Tonight was an opportunity for the president to turn a new page towards the unity he promised our country when he first took office, but unfortunately, Americans got more of the same.”
Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate David McCormick said, “Across the country and particularly in Pennsylvania, we’ve seen Joe Biden’s policies destroy our economy and increase prices for all Americans, hamstring our energy industry and return our reliance to hostile nations, flood our country with illegal immigration, drugs and human exploitation from the humanitarian crisis at the border, and catastrophically weaken America’s standing on the world stage culminating in chaos from Kabul to Kyiv and welcoming further aggression from our biggest threat – China.
“Under Joe Biden’s weak leadership, America is last. This sad reality becomes more evident by the day as Biden and the extreme left continue to gloss over the problems working American families, like in my home state of Pennsylvania, are facing while they continue to push their out-of-touch and unrealistic talking points. They are taking our nation in the wrong direction, and our world is less safe. Our country must elect leaders that will stand up to their hypocrisy and delusional agenda.
“Tonight Americans craved leadership. What they got was a reheated leftover of the same broken promises and stale rhetoric we’ve heard from the Left for decades. I’ve been fighting my whole life – from the battlefield of the Gulf War, to negotiating trade at the highest levels of government, to running two successful businesses that created hundreds of jobs. I have fought for this country and I believe in its greatness. I have what it takes to keep fighting and leading for Pennsylvania, restore the American dream for our children, and put America First once again.”
Dr. Mehmet Oz, a Republican running for the Senate, said, “Tonight, Joe Biden painted a vastly different picture of his first year in office than the disaster experienced by the vast majority of Americans. Over the past year, Joe Biden’s destructive policies have contributed to record inflation and skyrocketing gas prices for working families, a drug and human trafficking crisis openly flowing across our southern border, and draconian mandates that have harmed our children, our economy, and the future prosperity of our nation.
“On top of his failure to manage critical domestic issues, Joe Biden’s incompetence on the world stage has resulted in unmitigated disasters ranging from the horrific pullout of American troops in Afghanistan to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. Make no mistake, Joe Biden is responsible for the chaos we are experiencing — Joe Biden is the reason for the beleaguered state of our Union.”
Montgomery County businessman Jeff Bartos, a Republican running for the Senate said, “The president’s address to the American people tonight shows, once again, that he never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Instead of confidently and honestly addressing the crises that are making everyday life harder for all Americans, the president simply regurgitated left-wing policies that have already failed the American people. Inflation is at a 40-year high, the southern border is overrun, crime is on the rise, Russia has declared war in Europe, China and Iran are emboldened, and gas prices are at an all-time high. We need leadership, not platitudes, Unfortunately, the president chose not to unite the American people by declaring that we will harvest our abundant energy resources, unleash our economic might, and stop Russian aggression.”
Bartos continued, “This administration is more concerned with passing a progressive agenda than with solving the problems facing the American people. This November, it’s crucial that Republicans take back the House and the Senate to hold this administration accountable for its failures — starting with this Senate seat.”
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate said, “President Biden said it best himself tonight, we need to be making more things in America, and I couldn’t agree more. I will go to Washington and make sure that making stuff in America never goes out of style.”
Democrat Josh Shapiro, the attorney general who is running for governor, said on Twitter: I’ve heard it first hand — local police departments across PA are stretched thin because of historic staffing shortages. Action is needed to ensure every community has the full public safety services they deserve. #SOTU
Former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain, a Republican candidate for governor said, “Under President Biden, the American people have endured a crippled economy, skyrocketing inflation, record-setting violent crime, an unprecedented crisis at the border, and a mismanaged pandemic. These issues impact every aspect of American life, but they have one thing in common – they are the result of a weak, aimless President who has proven himself incapable of defending and protecting the American people at home or abroad.
“In Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf’s own reckless agenda has forced hardworking families across the Commonwealth to face crushing burdens, including job losses, shuttered businesses and schools, increased taxes and cost of living, and a sinking economy.
“That ends when I’m Governor. Pennsylvanians deserve a Governor who will put their needs first, and who will stand up for the rule of law while fighting to enact pro-business, pro-energy, and pro-family policies. It’s time for a Governor who will get the government off your back and will fight any federal attempts to intrude on our Commonwealth’s liberty, sovereignty, or constitutional rights. As Governor, I will restore conservative values to our state, end statewide mandates, and create an election system in which everyone can have faith. This is the kind of leadership that Pennsylvanians deserve and that I will provide.”
Former mayor and congressman Lou Barletta, the leading Republican candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, said, “I’ve sat in the House chamber for State of the Union speeches before, and I have never seen a president more divorced from reality as Joe Biden. Honestly, no one needs Biden to tell them what the state of Pennsylvania is, because people are living with his disastrous policies every single day.
“Inflation is at a multi-generational high, fuel prices are through the roof, violent crime is rampant in our streets, and parents have been shut out of educational decisions concerning their children. If Biden wanted to tell the truth, he should have stood up and said, ‘They were right. I’m not up to the job.’
“The failed Biden presidency proves how important it is that we elect the right governor for Pennsylvania. Instead of allowing Russia to call the shots because of our weakness on the world stage, we need to protect our own national security by producing our own energy here at home. Pennsylvania can be a leader of the world in energy production, helping to restore us to energy independence and undercutting Vladimir Putin’s influence on the world supply.
“Josh Shapiro, the likely Democratic nominee for governor, would never stand up to Biden and would never let us tap our energy potential. He would do what the leftists demand and leave Pennsylvania falling even farther behind. When I’m governor, we will unleash our God-given energy resources, restore rights to the people, and make Pennsylvania a better place to live, learn, work, and raise a family.”
Dave White, a businessman and former Delaware County councilman who is running for governor, said, “Joe Biden’s State of the Union was so detached from reality, I doubt he has any clue what his policies are doing to American families. Inflation is hitting record highs, gas prices and crime rates are soaring, and crises of Biden’s making are popping up across the globe. Joe Biden is the worst president of my lifetime, and he clearly has no idea how to solve any of the problems our country is facing.”
Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware Co.) said, “I’m leaving the Capitol this evening with a renewed sense of hope and determination. President Biden spoke directly to the American people tonight — laying out an optimistic vision for our nation, grounded in reality and sound policy choices. The president made clear that America’s best days lie ahead, and that, when we are unified behind a common cause, there is no challenge too great for America to overcome.
“Right now, we are navigating a series of unprecedented challenges. We have endured the physical and economic pain of a multi-year pandemic. Family pocketbooks are stretched with rising costs on things like energy, food, and other basic goods. And Russia has unleashed a volatile international conflict in Europe. President Biden did not avoid any of these challenges, he addressed them head-on.
“Tonight, President Biden issued a rallying cry to our fellow Americans and to the world, calling on us to stand strong as a united front against autocracy — rejecting Vladimir Putin and his unprovoked war in Ukraine. As the world responds to the horrific attacks in Ukraine, I am exceedingly grateful to have an experienced statesman-like President Biden at the helm. His ability to repair relationships with our allies and organize the international community has been crucial. Like President Biden, I believe that standing up for democracy at home and abroad is essential. So, I was pleased to see the president reiterate his commitment to advancing democratic values here in the U.S., which is more important than ever.
“The President also laid out a strategic economic vision for our country. As we turn the corner with COVID-19 and begin moving back toward a sense of normalcy, Americans are anxious about the inflation we are all experiencing. I understand that concern, and so does President Biden. That’s why he focused so much of his speech tonight on his plan to fight inflation by building a better America — one that actually works for working families. His plan to lower costs for American families while continuing a historically strong economic recovery focuses on key areas that we should all be able to agree on, regardless of political affiliation. Making more goods in America, reducing the cost of everyday expenses like child care and prescription drugs, promoting fair competition to lower corporate prices, and eliminating barriers to good-paying jobs — this is a winning plan. It’s a plan that will lower costs, not wages, which is what the American people need.
“In the midst of very heavy topics that President Biden addressed during his speech, I was thrilled to hear him highlight the importance of adults stepping up to mentor young people. Too many young people in the U.S. don’t have a meaningful connection with adults outside their homes, so it was encouraging to hear the president urge adults to serve their communities — and the next generation — by becoming mentors. An active, engaged citizenry is essential to any democracy, and mentors can play a critical role in preparing young people for this responsibility.
“At the core of President Biden’s vision for our nation’s future is his belief that the character, courage, and resilience of the American people are unmatched. He truly believes that, when given a fair shot, there is nothing his fellow Americans can’t achieve. I am inspired by the president’s faith in the American people, American values, and our American system of government because I share that faith. I look forward to working with President Biden and my colleagues in Congress to make his vision a reality.”
Republican Dave Galluch, a Newtown Square resident and former Navy explosive ordinance disposal officer, who is running for Scanlon’s seat, said, “Joe Biden closed his speech by saying ‘the State of the Union is better than it was a year ago.’ Inflation is at 40-year highs. Gas prices are soaring. Children face years of delays after prolonged school closures. Crime is climbing across the country. We have lost our energy independence. Our border is in disarray. Russia has invaded Ukraine. Our foes challenge us. Americans will tell you – we are not better off today than a year ago. We need solutions.
“What we needed to hear tonight was honesty. A speech filled with ideas to bring immediate relief to our pressing problems. Instead, President Biden delivered slogans and empty rhetoric.
“It is Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats who unleashed trillions of dollars that sent the cost of living soaring. It was Democrats who championed “Defund the Police.” It was the Biden administration that presided over the highest number of annual illegal border crossings in history. It was Democratic elected officials who shut down our schools, businesses and lives much longer than was necessary.
“In the Navy I learned that as a leader you’re either part of the solution or you’re not doing your job. None of these problems are new. Most have been fumbled, mishandled, or simply created by President Biden and out-of-touch ideologues like Mary Gay Scanlon who put partisan priorities like Build Back Better above commonsense, workable policies that would’ve delivered results. In short, they chose partisan politics and didn’t deliver.
“Ordinary American families can’t escape an unfortunate reality – their lives are harder today than they were before. The buck stops with those in charge. When I’m in Congress our pressing issues – not a party’s priorities – will come first. We will listen and deliver where others haven’t. We will be a part of the solution.”
Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) said via Twitter: “The pandemic has taken its toll on everyone, like loved ones struggling with mental health and substance use disorder. Glad to hear @POTUS dedicate time in his #SOTU to both of these issues that have claimed too many lives already.
“My #SOTU virtual guest Roman Petyk: ‘President Biden deserves huge credit for rebuilding the transatlantic alliance. To have done this in one year is an amazing achievement. We must remember this.’
And “During Russia’s horrific invasion of Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of refugees need our help. Iryna Mazur, Esq., my #SOTU virtual guest, is the Honorary Consul of Ukraine in Philadelphia.”
Republican Christian Nascimento, who is running for Congress in Montgomery County said, “President Biden spoke about the world’s unity in the face of the attack on Ukraine by the criminal Putin, but failed to mention that his administration had previously withheld lethal aid. Our enemies are emboldened when our policies are weak, both abroad and at home. The rest of the speech was a recycle of a liberal wish list. Build Back Better might not have been mentioned, but Democrats continue to drive misguided government overreach. What wasn’t covered was what the American people wanted to hear – how we get out of this spiral of soaring inflation, bring the global supply chain back to the US, and truest give parents a true voice and choice in their children’s’ education.”
Chester County Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan, a Democrat, said before the SOTU, ““Tonight, President Biden has an opportunity to show the American people that he understands the issues impacting our community most,” said Houlahan. “It may be his first State of the Union address, but he is no stranger to the dais. Both as Vice President and then as President during last year’s historic Joint Address to Congress, Biden knows what it takes to speak beyond applause lines and deliver a vision of unity, not only for the United States but also for the world. The question is whether or not he will rise to the occasion.”
“There are reasons to be optimistic. We hit 4 percent unemployment more than a year ahead of the Federal Reserve’s projection. Our economy gained 6.6 million jobs last year – the highest number of jobs gained in a year in U.S. history. We have gained back 87 percent of the jobs lost at the onset of the pandemic. The United States was the first country in the G-7 – the seven leading advanced economies – to recover all real GDP lost during the pandemic. And we passed a generation-defining infrastructure package, just to name a few very bright spots. So, at face value, these leading indicators and legislative accomplishments demonstrate the resiliency of our economy and the ability for our government to deliver. But they don’t tell the full story. Because at the same time, Pennsylvanians are hurting. The rising cost of goods, ongoing supply chain constraints, and rising energy prices are impacting the everyday lives of workers here in our community. Last week, I listened to mushroom farmers, daycare providers, small businesses owners, and others who are worn out and feel like no one is hearing them. I hear them, and I want President Biden to make it clear he hears them too and not only empathizes with their frustrations but also understands the commitment and necessity that we must have to do everything in our power to put partisan politics aside and help them.”
“In my short time in Congress, I have come to understand the importance of nights like tonight. At a time when our nation and our world are grappling with threats against the values and freedoms we hold so dear, we need strong moral leadership to unify Pennsylvanians, the American people, and the world. I look forward to seeing that tonight,” she said.
Guy Ciarrocchi, one of several Republicans vying to replace Houlahan, said, ““The State of the Union Address is the moment when President Biden is to assure us as Americans that he understands our problems and embraces our opportunities—and, offers us a path forward.
Sadly, his address ignores real problems—like inflation and economic insecurity—and offers no thoughtful solutions. President Biden is doubling down on the policies that brought us to where we are. If he won’t recognize reality and lead, we need a Republican Congress to force a reality-check and to step into that leadership void.”
Felice Fein, vice chair of the Chester County Republicans said, “Mr. Biden’s State of the Union Address included many of the very concepts that Mr. Trump presented in previous State of the Union speeches. Democrats seem to want us to believe these are revolutionary ideas. Does Mr. Biden really think we don’t remember that the Trump administration championed reducing the cost of insulin? Do they believe we forget that the Trump administration pushed for infrastructure funding but was blocked at nearly every turn by the Democrats? I am glad to see that this administration and Speaker Pelosi seem so enthusiastic to do more with the opioid and mental health crises. When the Trump administration discussed these topics, it was met with a lackluster response. Good ideas should be championed whether authored by a Democrat or a Republican. On that, I think everyone would agree and should work to make it a reality!
“Finally, in response to the releasing of oil reserves to combat rising oil prices around the world, Mr. Biden wants us to believe that the rising prices are solely because of Russian aggression in Ukraine. To the contrary, oil prices were increasing well before any conflict. As soon as this administration shut down U.S. pipelines, taking away our energy independence, it caused oil prices to climb and sales of Russian oil to soar. This move effectively helped to fund Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. Releasing oil from the reserves that Mr. Trump filled does nothing to aid our country or the world with its long-term need for energy.”
And Charlotte Valyo, chair of the Chester County Democrats said, “onight we saw what real leadership looks like. In just over one year, President Biden has reunited the world in the name of freedom and democracy to combat the most egregious act of tyranny that we have seen since World War II. As he has done throughout his career — and in contrast to what we see on a daily basis from Republicans — the President has spent his first year putting the country ahead of party politics. He has made progress in the battle against Covid-19, passed landmark legislation to rebuild our infrastructure. put our economy on the path to a historic recovery, and brought dignity and respect back to the Oval Office. Tonight I was proud to be a Democrat, proud to have supported President Biden, and proud to be an American.”
Liz Preate Havey, chair of the Montgomery County Republicans said, “Biden gave a meandering, uninspiring speech. He had an opportunity to give a speech to reset what the majority of voters believe is an unsuccessful presidency but he chose not to do that. This speech won’t change anything for President Biden or for Americans.”
Delaware County Democratic Chair Colleen Guiney said, “During times of tremendous hardship for the people of this nation and the people of Ukraine, President Biden Is working to bring us together to fight for fairness and progress. He urged Congress to come together to solve the problems of this nation. I am hopeful that they will follow his lead.”