Florida Republican congressman Mario Díaz-Balart delivered the Spanish-language Republican address following President Obama's final State of the Union Address tonight.
Before the speech began, Mr. Díaz-Balart took an opening shot at the President for his policy of lifting sanctions against Iran. Iranian military forces seized two U.S. Navy boats Tuesday and detained 10 American sailors aboard small riverine vessels on a training mission.
But Obama did not mention the incident in the State of the Union, and neither did Diaz-Balart in his response. Diaz-Balart said in his response that Republicans in the White House would make international treaties that would be "celebrated in Israel and protested in Iran, not the other way around."
The Florida congressman opened his speech by saying that though Obama was eloquent in his address, his record as president has not been at the level of his eloquence. Diaz-Balart said the economy was stagnant, the country still had significant national debt and that the healthcare law had increased the cost of insurance and made doctors less accessible.
In his speech, the Florida seven-term legislator presented an alternative proposal for the future should a Republican win the Presidency. "With a Republican in the White House", said Diaz-Balart, "we would lower taxes for families and curb bad spending and cut the national debt."
Immigration and immigrants played a large role in the President's speech; Obama mentioned it five times throughout his speech. At one point, Mr. Obama argued that blaming immigrants for low wages was wrong. Mr. Obama said, "We're every immigrant and entrepreneur from Boston to Austin to Silicon Valley racing to shape a better world".
In his response, Diaz-Balart did not attack the President's specific immigration policies. He said in his speech he understood immigration; he was the son of Cuban exiles. Diaz-Balart, whose record is more moderate on immigration, said it was necessary to find a legislative solution to immigration reform, including border defense and a permanent solution for "those living in the shadows" as well as modernizing the system of visas.
In his State of the Union, President Obama urged lifting the Cuban embargo, saying the "Cold War was over." In his response, Diaz-Balart, who opposes lifting the embargo, said there were countries that were denying basic liberties, and Cuba was one of them.
"And in our own hemisphere, our own Cuban government has not had a free election in more than 57 years, and detentions and oppression continues," said Diaz-Balart.