SALT LAKE CITY — The Tea Party Express has announced that Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, will deliver the official tea party response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address following the Republican response.
The Tea Party Express, a political action committee, has hosted a response since 2011 when Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., gave the response. Former presidential candidate Herman Cain gave the response in 2012 and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., gave the response in 2013.
On the Democratic side, "Obama plans to use (his) speech to talk about Democrats' campaign-year theme of income inequality, and he'll focus on pocketbook issues like college affordability, workplace leave policies, extending unemployment benefits and the party's signature minimum-wage initiative for 2014," Josh Kraushaar wrote at National Journal.
On the Republican side, the person slated to give the official response has yet to be named. On Tuesday, Politico suggested eight possibilities including Wis. Gov. Scott Walker, former Republican vice presidential candidate and current Rep. Paul Ryan, Sen. Ted Cruz, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez or Utah's Mia Love, who announced her candidacy for the U.S. House in May 2013.
The State of the Union address will take place on Jan. 28 at 9 p.m. EST.
Sen. Mike Lee's relationship with the tea party has spanned his entire Senate career, with his coming to office during the 2010 tea party wave and subsequently helping to shape the Tea Party Caucus and emerging as part of a new generation of tea party conservatives like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul on Capitol Hill.
“Sen. Mike Lee has been both a tea party hero for supporters across the nation, and a conservative leader in the Upper Chamber," Tea Party Express Chairman Amy Kremer said. "He has introduced tangible policy solutions to some of America’s biggest problems."
On Dec. 4, 2013, Tea Party Express endorsed Lee for his 2016 race, with Kremer saying that the country needs "more conservatives just like Sen. Mike Lee who are there to protect the Constitution and fight for the American people."
In recent months, Lee has called for a new conservative agenda on Capitol Hill, saying that Republicans and conservatives need to stop being "just the party of no," and become a party unified behind a specific agenda.
Recent speeches and writings suggest that Lee has taken his own advice. In a November speech at the Heritage Foundation Anti-Poverty Forum, Lee urged conservatives to support an agenda that ensures government dollars benefit the underprivileged, expands access to education, gets civil society involved, celebrates stable marriage and reforms the U.S. criminal justice, prison, tax, regulatory, energy and transportation systems.
After that November speech, Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson wrote that Lee's "comprehensive anti-poverty upward-mobility agenda" may put him at odds with some in the tea party, "but it is fully consistent with Republican success. And might even help ensure it."
Lee's tea party response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address will be streamed live at www.TeaPartyExpress.org.