WASHINGTON – Democrats considering taking on President Donald Trump in 2020 reacted to his State of the Union address with outrage, sarcasm and eye rolling.
While the official Democratic response was given by Stacey Abrams, the Democrat who ran unsuccessfully to be governor of Georgia, the many potential presidential hopefuls tried to get into the conversation.
“Stacey Abrams achieved in a matter of minutes something Donald Trump failed to do in over an hour – to embrace and give voice to the spirit and core values that make America great,” tweeted former Vice President Joe Biden.
Four senators who are actively campaigning for the 2020 nomination had seats among the first two rows of Democratic lawmakers during Trump’s speech: Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.
Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota are also considering jumping into the race.
A few rows away, Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Independent who ran as a Democrat in 2016 and could run again, scribbled notes on a manila envelope for part of Trump’s speech.
“How can a president of the United States give a State of the Union speech and not mention climate change?” Sanders tweeted afterward.
When cameras caught Gillibrand in a dramatic eye roll during the address, she tried to turn the moment into campaign gold.
“Agree? Chip in $5 so we can put an end to this,” she tweeted.
Senators also sent messages through guests they’d invited to the speech.
Gillibrand brought a transgender Navy lieutenant commander to illustrate her opposition to Trump’s ban on transgender Americans serving in the military.
Warren and Harris both brought federal workers who had been furloughed during the partial government shutdown.
Klobuchar – who announced after the speech that she will be making a “big announcement” Sunday – brought a woman whose son died because he was not able to afford insulin.
“7 million Americans have lost health insurance under this President,” tweeted Julian Castro, a former Obama Cabinet member and San Antonio mayor. “We need Medicare for All now.”
Brown highlighted a New York Times fact check that labeled as “false” Trump’s claim that the American economy is considered “far and away the hottest economy anywhere in the world.”
“Just leaving this here,” Brown said in his tweet.
Others responded to Trump’s boast that no one has benefited more the strong economy than women.
“President Trump seems not to understand that the female jobs he created were Democratic women in Congress,” Gillibrand tweeted.
Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, likewise thanked the president “for the tremendous role you played in getting Democratic women elected to Congress in record numbers!”
One of Harris’ strongest reactions was to Trump’s attacks on efforts in New York and Virginia to loosen restrictions on abortions performed later in pregnancies.
“Politicians should not tell women what to do with their bodies,” Harris tweeted, putting emoji claps between each word for emphasis.
Trump’s insistence on building a wall along the border with Mexico also got pushback from potential candidates.
Responding to Trump’s call to “choose greatness,” former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said “greatness begins with immigrants.”
“Choosing greatness starts with understanding that,” he tweeted. “And it means choosing real solutions to our broken immigration system over gimmicks like a wall.”
Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee said Trump should take his own advice – and choose greatness instead of “pursuing policies that stoke fear in communities and families across the nation.”
Contributing: Eliza Collins.