WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – The annual State of the Union address is one of the most scripted speeches a president gives. Trying to follow the pageantry of the address is wrought with political dangers for those selected to follow the president.
A look back at some of the recent politicians who have given their party’s response to the president doesn’t paint a pretty future for this year’s selection, Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA).
Last year, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) was chosen to give the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union. Following President Obama is tough enough, but Senator Rubio’s speech is infamous after the Senator had to stop to get water in the middle of his speech.
Senator Rubio’s rising star status in the Republican Party was damaged and his support of comprehensive immigration reform further damaged him in the view of some conservatives.
In 2012, Governor Mitch Daniels (R-IN) gave the GOP response to President Obama. Just two years later, former Governor Daniels is completely out of politics. In 2011, rising GOP star Paul Ryan (R-WI) gave the response and went on to be on the losing ticket of the 2012 presidential election.
However, Representative Ryan, unlike most of the others on the list, still occupies a position of power in the Republican House caucus and is still held in high regards by almost all conservatives.
The list continues to have problems going further back:
2010 – Governor Bob McDonnell (R-VA) – considered a rising Presidential possibility, was indicted recently for accepting gifts
2009 – Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) – A rising star at the time. His delivery didn’t inspire Republicans and the problems in his home state have caused his star to fade.
2008 – Governor Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS) – Sebelius gave the response to then-President George W. Bush. She became head of Health and Human Services, which completely botched the entire rollout of the Affordable Care Act.
2007 – Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) – now out of politics completely
You have to go back to 2006 when then-Governor Tim Kaine (D-VA) gave the rebuttal to find a politician still enjoying political success. He’s currently a Senator from the state of Virginia. Before that, only Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, who delivered the speech in 2005 remain in positions of power looking back to 2001.
Going deeper, no man or woman who has delivered a solo response to the State of the Union has ever gone on to become president, according to CNN. In fact, only one went on to become his party’s presidential nominee, Bob Dole in 1996.
That doesn’t mean that it’s all bad for those selected to give the response. Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Gerald Ford have all been part of group responses to the State of the Union.
This year, the GOP will be giving four responses to the SOTU address from McMorris Rodgers (official response), Senator Rand Paul, Senator Mike Lee (Tea Party response), and Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
A few more fun facts about the State of the Union:
- The longest State of the Union ever given was by President Jimmy Carter in 1981 which checked in at more than 33,667 words (not all of the speech was delivered). A typical address has somewhere around 5,000 words plus time for applause.
- One cabinet member is not allowed to attend because they are the “designated survivor” in the unlikely event of a mass attack wiping out the assembled leaders. In 2013, the designated survivor was Energy Secretary Steven Chu
- Technically, a president doesn’t have to deliver a State of the Union address in a speech. It wasn’t given in a speech from the administration of Thomas Jefferson until Woodrow Wilson in 1913.
- The only State of the Union ever postponed was in 1986 when the Challenger exploded.
- The first State of the Union broadcast on television was in 1947, the first webcast was in 2002.
- The SOTU was moved to primetime television by Lyndon Johnson in 1966.