- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 30, 2003

Democrats said they were pleased with Washington Gov. Gary Locke's official Democratic response to Tuesday's State of the Union address, but Republicans called his remarks "utterly forgettable."

Mr. Locke, 53, is the first Chinese-American to hold a governorship. His grandfather came to the United States from China, and the governor made that history of immigration a prominent part of both his official response and of his remarks yesterday in a wrap-up with Democratic leaders.

"I think the message of Democrats is that we care about working, everyday people, and that has really been the legacy of our immigrant past working people who helped build up this country, and wave after wave of immigrants from all around the world who helped the prosperity of America," said Mr. Locke, who is serving his second term. "I believe that is the Democratic Party, focused on those everyday working people."

Mr. Locke is the chairman of the Democratic Governors' Association, which is newly revitalized after November's elections in which Democrats recaptured governor's mansions in populous states like Pennsylvania and Michigan.

It is not the first time a governor has given the official response. Then-Gov. Christie Whitman of New Jersey gave the Republican response in 1995, and then-Gov. Charles S. Robb of Virginia was part of Democrats' group response one year to President Reagan.

Democrats said they turned to the governors this year as a way of highlighting their importance to the party and to the nation, and yesterday they said they were happy with Mr. Locke's performance.

"I think Governor Locke did an outstanding job. I have heard nothing but great praise today for his speech, as well as the way it was delivered," said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat. "We have every expectation we'll consider this practice of rotating governors and members of Congress as we respond to presidents when we're not in the White House ourselves."

He said that includes working them into the rotation for responding to the president's Saturday morning radio addresses.

But Republicans said it was telling that Democrats looked outside the nation's capital for a responder to the president.

"To me it suggested somewhat of a void of leadership from Washington," said Jim Dyke, spokesman for the Republican National Committee.

Some Republicans said privately they found it interesting House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, who just ascended to the post, did not give the speech.

Mr. Dyke said he thought Mr. Locke "seemed to be an effective speaker," but Republicans in Mr. Locke's home state found the speech to be empty.

"I thought his performance last night was utterly forgettable," said Chris Vance, chairman of the Washington State Republican Party. "First of all, it doesn't matter who delivered their response; we've already won the argument. Democrats seem to agree with us that the way to stimulate the economy is through tax cuts."

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide