Economic inequality a major theme of Sen. Mike Lee's tea party State of the Union response

Published: Monday, Jan. 27 2014 6:48 p.m. MST

Senator Mike Lee speaks during a Tea Party Express press conference in Salt Lake City Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013. Lee, via social media, asked mainstream Americans for ideas to incorporate into the official tea party response he will deliver Tuesday following President Obama's State of the Union address.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Mike Lee, via social media, asked mainstream Americans for ideas to incorporate into the official tea party response he will deliver Tuesday following President Obama's State of the Union address.

More than 4,600 people "liked" Lee's Facebook post. They urged the Utah Republican to take on the size and scope of government, the economy, immigration and Obamacare, among other issues.

One Facebook poster urged Lee to take inspiration from former President Ronald Reagan's speeches "and quote from that. 'Government isn't the solution. It is the problem.'"

One woman replied: "Don't pull any punches when (President Obama) lies. Call him out directly on those lies."

Brian Phillips, Lee’s communication director, said Lee's response, to be delivered from the National Press Club, will address the real causes of economic inequality.

“He will outline the president’s contributions to economic inequality and then discuss a series of conservative proposals that create greater opportunities for low-income and middle-class Americans,” Phillips said.

Lee’s address will be streamed live at TeaPartyExpress.org. It will follow the Republican Party response by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., chairwoman of the House Republican Conference.

Lee staffers said they were busy Monday making final preparations for the Tuesday night speech, which included Lee practicing the address.

Amy Kremer, chairwoman of the Tea Party Express, said Lee's response should resonate with all Americans concerned about the economy, jobs and health care.

"I look forward to hearing his ideas for what we need to do get this country turned around and back on the path to prosperity so we remain that shining city on the hill. He's put forth solutions, and he has a way of talking to people that your average person understands," Kremer said. "I don't think that there's anybody better suited to give the tea party response to the State of the Union than Sen. Mike Lee."

Tea party members, like many Americans, are displeased with the Obama administration's handling of many issues, Kremer said.

"If this administration cannot do it through the legislative process, they'll try the regulatory process," she said, "and if they can't through that way, we've heard the president say he has a pen and a phone so he'll do it through executive order. That's not what our forefathers intended. If there's anyone who knows and understands the Constitution, it's Senator Lee."

Lee not only raises concerns, he proposes solutions, Kremer said.

"He has that ability to reach people. He's so common sense," she said. "I hope people will tune in and listen to what he has to say."

Donlyn Turnbull, new media director of the Tea Party Express, writing on the party's website, said Lee's response “could cause (a) conservative reawakening.”

Relying on excerpts of Lee’s October 2013 speech to the Heritage Foundation, Turnbull wrote, “Obama in years past has filled his State of the Union address with blame, empty promises and ineffective policy.

“Sen. Lee will continue to point out how to ‘advance a larger, positive vision of America’ and to ‘craft a practical plan to get us there.’”

Email: marjorie@deseretnews.com

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