WASHINGTON — Although President Donald Trump called for unity and bipartisanship in his first State of the Union address on Tuesday, Democratic lawmakers generally saved their applause and lambasted what they saw as a hypocritical message.
During the speech Republicans cheered as Trump touted the tax reform success while many Democrats remained stone-faced and silent.
Many Democrats brought guests to show their opposition to Trump policies, such as sexual assault survivors and “dreamers,” young adults who were brought to the United States illegally as children but now face deportation after Trump terminated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in September.
Trump played on the “dreamers” nickname by saying, “Americans are dreamers, too.”
“I call upon all of us to set aside our differences and seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people,” he said. “This is really the key, These are the people we were elected to serve.”
However, Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois said Trump’s calls for bipartisanship and unity did not match his actions.
“Preaching and governing are different things,” Krishnamoorthi said. “When he invites Sens. Graham and Durbin into his office and starts talking about certain countries in certain ways, in a vulgar, vile manner, I think that is kind of the height of hypocrisy.”
Trump reportedly called Haiti and some African nations “shithole” countries.
Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said Trump’s use of the epithet as well as his response to the violence against Charlottesville protesters in July have increased tensions in the country.
“The state of our precious union is fractured. It’s divided,” Richmond said ahead of the speech during a pre-rebuttal. “And the president has the responsibility and gets the credit for making it that way.”
During the speech, when Trump said unemployment among African Americans is at all-time lows, members of the Black Caucus stayed seated.
Massachusetts Democrat Joseph Kennedy delivered the official rebuttal from the opposition party, “(Republicans) are turning American life into a zero-sum game where for one to win, another must lose.”
To Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman of California, Trump’s first State of the Union was “a very long speech that was short on policy proposals.”
“I was hoping he would resign, but that didn’t happen,” Sherman said.