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Remembering The Curse of the SOTU Response

With Republicans picking South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to give the party’s rebuttal to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address next week, it’s worth a reminder that the task of giving the big speech can be as much a curse as an honor.

Let’s look back at the last decade or so of politicians whose moment in the sun didn’t exactly translate into electoral glory.

2007: Jim Webb. Once a hero to his party, the Democratic lawmaker and decorated war veteran announced in 2011 that he wouldn’t seek re-election to the Senate. This presidential cycle, he briefly ran for president but dropped out after failing to garner more than a handful of percentage points in public polling.

2008: Kathleen Sebelius. Once a popular Kansas governor and the first female chair of the Democratic Governors Association, Sebelius presided over the disastrous rollout of the Obamacare.gov website as Secretary of Health and Human Services. She resigned from that post in April 2014.

2009: Bobby Jindal. The Louisiana governor was a poster boy for a new generation of diverse, talented conservatives when he delivered his rebuttal to Obama’s first SOTU. But his awkward introduction (which even now is still compared to the Kenneth the Page character from "30 Rock") dogged him ever since, including through his markedly unsuccessful 2016 presidential run.

2010: Bob McDonnell. The most cursed of them all. The photogenic Virginia governor was practically considered a shoo-in for an eventual spot on a GOP presidential ticket until he was convicted on federal corruption charges in 2014.

2011: Paul Ryan. A Congressional budget wunderkind, Ryan was picked the following year as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential nominee. The pair lost, and Ryan’s uneventful return to the U.S. House was upended last year when he was cajoled into a job no one else in Congress wanted: Speaker of the House.

2012: Gov. Mitch Daniels. The onetime Indiana governor coulda been a contender(!) for president in 2012, but passed on a run. He’s now out of politics, serving as the president of Purdue University.

2013: Marco Rubio. Amid an otherwise valiant SOTU response attempt, Rubio broke the Internet when he tried unsuccessfully to sneak a sip of water between sentences. He's still a major player in the 2016 presidential race now -- and hopefully more well-hydrated as well.

Rubio halts response for awkward drink of water 0:18

2014: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. She’s safe – so far!The Washington congresswoman’s speech – and her subsequent political career -- remained free of an unexpected disaster. But she remains a relatively unknown political figure nationally.

2015: Joni Ernst. She’s also safe! The Iowa senator remains an influential force in her first-in-the-nation caucus state. Then again, for someone whose campaign went from obscurity to national fame after she aired ads about pig castration, it’s safe to say that Ernst’s career has been far from boring.

Want to see more on the ups and downs of the SOTU response? Our original video team has you covered.