Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds issued a scathing Republican reprimand on President Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, portraying his presidency as an unwanted remake of “That ’70s Show,” complete with “runaway inflation.” rampant crime and a raging “Soviet army.”
Ms. Reynolds, chosen by the Republican Senate leadership to provide the party’s official response, portrayed the populist uprising against mask mandates and distance learning as a “pro-parent, pro-family revolution,” hoping exploit the impact for the run-up to this year. midterm elections.
The governor, who has been in that office since 2017, used her speech to review themes, tested and repeated by conservatives on social media, likely to be repeated by Republican candidates across the country as they attempt to seize control of Congress. two years after the party lost the White House and Senate. That included fears that the Biden administration — and Democrats — will want to control what kids can learn in school and whether parents should have a say.
“We are tired of politicians telling parents to sit down, shut up and let the government decide their children’s education and future,” she said.
In Iowa, Ms. Reynolds has pursued policies championed by a conservative base and motivated by opposition to government efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Kentucky Republican and minority leader Senator Mitch McConnell chose Ms. Reynolds for the high-profile speaking time, in part because she supported private public education and signed a bill last year banning the use of masks in local schools.
While that measure is currently suspended in the courts, Republicans believe those positions will spur conservatives and convince some moderates tired of the pandemic restrictions.
“Iowa was the first state in the nation to require schools to open their doors,” she said. Keeping schools open is just the beginning of the pro-parent, pro-family revolution that Republicans are leading in Iowa and states across this country. Republicans believe that parents matter.”
Ms. Reynolds hammered away at the Biden administration’s response to the rise in inflation, accusing the White House of elitism for initially downplaying the issue.
“The Biden administration believes inflation is ‘a top-class problem,'” she said. “I can tell you it’s a problem for everyone.”
In the eyes of her supporters, Ms. Reynolds, 62, is one of the few conservatives able to bridge the populism of former President Donald J. Trump to the party’s more calibrated attempt to retake Congress.
But to critics, Ms. Reynolds represents the contradictions and hypocrisy of a Republican establishment trying to portray a moderate image while bowing to the whims of a former president who has little regard for the party’s mainstream past, or the future without him. .
What fans and enemies alike agree on: Ms. Reynolds is one of her party’s most effective messengers, a skilled politician who has a knack for putting a popular spin on hard-line Republican stances on abortion, guns, and the pandemic.
“She’s kind of all women,” said David Kochel, a Republican political adviser who worked with Ms. Reynolds on the speech delivered by Des Moines. “She’s a product of small town Iowa and the working class, a very different profile from Joe Biden.”
Whether this will all pay off for Ms Reynolds remains to be seen. Iowa’s importance as a national political power appears to be waning, with the once-critical swingstate now firmly in Republican hands and the role of first in the nation caucus openly contested by critics in both parties.
In addition, the post-State reaction, while a major development in Ms. Reynolds’ career, was as much a slippery slope as it was a springboard for Republican newcomers, including a parched Marco Rubio, who undone by an overly tempting water bottle in 2013.
Democrats were quick to reject her speech, portraying the governor as a die-hard Trump supporter trying to cover up her hard-hitting track record.
Leading up to her comments, they cited her bid to claim partial credit for handing out $210 million in federal funding for rural broadband projects in Iowa — despite her opposition to Mr Biden’s US bailout plan, which funneled hundreds of millions of dollars into pandemic emergency aid to the state.
“Instead of playing politics by taking credit for President Biden’s US bailout plan, which she opposed, she should work with Democrats to support Iowa families,” said Zach Wahls, a Democrat and the minority leader in the state Senate.