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2015 State of the Union

Ernst Focuses on GOP Priorities in State of the Union Response

Image: Joni Ernst

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa rehearses her remarks for the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) Susan Walsh / AP

Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst said voters sent a “loud and clear” message in the midterm elections and pledged to forge ahead with Republican’s legislative agenda in her GOP response to President Obama’s State of the Union.

“We heard the message you sent in November — loud and clear. And now we’re getting to work to change the direction Washington has been taking our country,” Ernst said.

GOP Response to State of the Union: Watch Full Speech 9:30

The 10-minute speech mentioned the president just a handful of times and was much kinder to the White House than many of her Republican colleagues. Instead of focusing on Obama, Ernst laid out a GOP agenda that will face stiff opposition in Congress, even with Republican control of both the House and Senate.

Ernst talked about GOP priorities like approving the Keystone XL pipeline and repealing the Affordable Care Act, two partisan issues that would be vetoed by the president.

“That’s why the new Republican majority you elected started by reforming Congress to make it function again,” she said. “And now, we’re working hard to pass the kind of serious job-creation ideas you deserve.”

Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul took to YouTube to deliver his own personal response to the president.

"America is adrift, something is clearly wrong," the portential 2016 presidential candidate said. "America needs many things but what America desperatly needs is new leadership."

But many in the GOP had much harsher critiques of the president’s speech.

"True to form, the president in his State of the Union speech is more interested in politics than in leadership," 2012 Republican presidential nominee and possible 2016 candidate Mitt Romney said in a post on Facebook.

His potential rival Jeb Bush also took to Facebook to post his response.

"Tonight isn't about the president's legacy. It's about the people's priorities: Making government bigger isn't going to help the middle class," House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday in a pre-buttal to the address.

Former Arkansas governor and possible 2016 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said voters "sent a resounding message of rejection to his liberal policies in November."

"President Obama needs to stop just talking about bipartisanship and actually start a meaningful dialogue with members of our Republican-controlled congress," Huckabee said in a statement. "The State of the Union is a good place to put down his pen and phone and roll up his sleeves to begin the consensus building."