Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said GOP heckling of President Biden during his State of the Union address amounted to “showbiz,” but she added that her political rivals were relatively well-behaved compared to a typical week.
Republicans shouted at Mr. Biden several times during the speech late Tuesday, notably when the president accused the GOP of entertaining cuts to Social Security and Medicare.
Mr. Biden was referring to a campaign-season plan from Sen. Rick Scott, Florida Republican, that would allow federal programs to sunset and require Congress to pass them again. The plan offered Democrats an opening to argue that Republicans want to attack prized programs for seniors.
“I think that they were protesting too much. They knew that they had been identified as putting Medicare and Social Security on the table. And they were trying to dismiss that. But the fact is, it still is part of who they are,” Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, told CNN. “The leader of their Senate campaign committee, as you mentioned, Senator Scott, had that as the priority of what they would do. So, this was sort of showbiz.”
Mrs. Pelosi is famous for her own State of the Union address antics.
She sarcastically clapped for President Trump in 2019 with her hands out way in front of her body and into the president’s face.
Most famously, she ripped up a copy of Mr. Trump’s 2020 speech after the event was over. Asked about the unusual act, she was defiant.
“I tore up a manifesto of mistruths,” Mrs. Pelosi said at the time. “It was necessary to get the attention of the American people to say, ‘This is not true. And this is how it affects you.’”
As for putting Social Security on the chopping block, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy says the entitlement programs are off the table in negotiations over spending cuts and raising the debt limit. But Mr. Biden accused some Republicans of holding the programs hostage in current negotiations, causing an uproar in the chamber.
Heckling the president is somewhat unusual. though it’s happened before, notably when Rep. Joe Wilson, South Carolina Republican, shouted, “You lie,” over President Obama’s claims about his health care law.
Mrs. Pelosi said the scene Tuesday night was relatively tame.
“Well, actually, it was, for them, fairly well-behaved, from what we see every day of the week in the House of Representatives, unfortunately,” she said.