McDonnell's SOTU response
January 28, 2010 10:51 AM   Subscribe

Was Bob McDonnell's delivery of the State of the Union response at the Virginia House of Delegates, with a hand-picked, partisan audience, unprecedented?

Last night, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell gave the Republican response to the State of the Union Address at the Virginia House of Delegates. I feel that the site and the arrangment of audience members meant to imply that this was an official session, although it's been acknowledged that the audience was made up of supporters, and that a $30,000 rental fee was paid to use the space.

I'm realllllly not asking if folks think this was misleading or inappropriate or anything like that (though my own biases are hard to hide)--trying to avoid that discussion. What I want to know is if anyone has ever done anything similar, and I'm having trouble finding that information on the web.

Apparently, there was a sort of town-hall type thing (involving Clinton) in 1985, but I can't tell from the sketchy reports how many folks were there, or where it was taped. And I've read that Christine Todd Whitman gave the Republican response to a crowd in 1995 at the NJ Capitol, but I can't tell who made up the crowd, or if it was inside the actual chamber or not.
posted by MrMoonPie to Law & Government (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like Whitman was indeed inside the chamber -- the text of the speech includes "I'm Christie Whitman, Governor of New Jersey, and I am addressing you tonight from the historic legislative chamber in Trenton, one of the oldest in the nation.
posted by Perplexity at 11:04 AM on January 28, 2010

"In 1997, Oklahoma congressman J. C. Watts delivered the Republican response to that year's speech in front of high school students sponsored by the Close Up Foundation."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:07 AM on January 28, 2010

A bit tangential to your concerns, but I believe the fact that it was delivered live is unprecedented...though it's not really tangential, since the Republicans clearly wanted to give the thing the aura of a campaign stump speech, with the appropriate enthusiasm and sense of urgency.

I can't find the source on-line that would prove be honest, I didn't even watch to see if it was in fact delivered live. As much as I enjoy following U.S. politics, its baroque trappings tend to bore me (rich coming from a citizen of a country with a Westminster-style parliament, I know)
posted by hiteleven at 11:32 AM on January 28, 2010

Another article on the Whitman speech. Note that she was the first governor to give the response.

Here's an interesting article on the people chosen for the response over the years: Bobby Jindal Gets an Honor and Maybe a Curse. And a full list from the Senate (PDF).

It's very hard to find older videos of these responses, since no one really cares, but here are a few:
2003: Gov. Gary Locke, flags
2006: Gov. Tim Kaine, office with books
2007: Sen. Jim Webb, office with books
2008: Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, office with books
2009: Gov. Bobby Jindal, a hallway?
posted by smackfu at 11:40 AM on January 28, 2010

I've read that elsewhere, smackfu, but it doesn't seem to be true, at least not according to the Clerk of the House. Perhaps Clinton's didn't count since he wasn't flying solo?
In response to President Reagan’s annual message on February 6, 1985, the Democratic Party provided a televised discussion among randomly selected Democratic voters. Gov. Bill Clinton (D-AR), Gov. Bob Graham (D-FL), House Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill (D-MA).
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:51 AM on January 28, 2010

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