WASHINGTON - Rep. Jeff Fortenberry approached President Donald Trump following Tuesday night’s State of the Union address and personally told him what a beautiful speech he’d delivered, one the Nebraska Republican said fit into a tradition of appealing to Americans’ higher angels.
“I thought it was a conciliatory speech,” Fortenberry told The World-Herald as he walked out of the House chamber. “It was an attempt to find consensus.”
In fact, Midlands lawmakers across the board found little to complain about in Trump’s address. They applauded often during its delivery, including when Trump hammered on his message of border security and the need to build a wall.
Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., said afterward that’s because the country does need targeted sections of wall along certain portions of the border, combined with other security measures.
“The comprehensive approach, I think, is the right thing to do,” Bacon said.
Sign up for World-Herald news alerts
Be the first to know when news happens. Get the latest breaking headlines sent straight to your inbox.
Rep. Adrian Smith joined his Nebraska colleagues in Congress, all Republicans, in praising what they described as a unifying appeal to tackle the nation’s problems.
Sen. Deb Fischer characterized it as a hopeful vision for the future.
Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa said it was a “message of unity, cooperation, and prosperity,” and Sen. Chuck Grassley, another Republican, praised Trump for discussing accomplishments over the past two years.
Sen. Ben Sasse focused on Trump’s remarks regarding abortion, saying “pro-life Nebraskans should be encouraged to hear the president call on Congress to protect the dignity of every individual and build a culture that values life.”
In her statement, Rep. Cindy Axne, an Iowa Democrat, said she knows the importance of working across the aisle.
“I was pleased to hear President Trump discuss issues that Iowans care about,” Axne said. “I look forward to working with Republicans and the president on expanding access to quality, affordable health care, lowering the cost of prescription drugs and passing a meaningful infrastructure bill that creates jobs and economic opportunity across Iowa."
Not everyone was so enamored with Trump’s speech, however.
Nebraska Democratic Party Chair Jane Kleeb described it as “lofty language sandwiched between predictable rhetoric about his broken promise of the wall that Mexico was to fund.”
Kleeb said that while farmers are confronting climate change by producing biofuels and installing wind and solar power facilities, Trump did not mention his promises regarding ethanol.
And she criticized both his continued call for a border wall and rhetoric on those seeking asylum in the United States.
“He attacked women’s right to choose,” Kleeb said. “He flicked way his reckless trade policies that are stifling rural America’s struggle to survive. His speech was filled with fear-mongering towards immigrants and a rehash of his stump speech.”
One lawmaker who loved the speech was Rep. Steve King. The Iowa Republican praised in particular Trump’s use of special guests to illustrate his policy points.
“I thought it was the best State of the Union speech I’ve ever heard,” King said. “I thought he was just a master of putting this all together.”