Conservatives blast Pelosi for tearing up a copy of Trump's State of the Union address

Vice President Mike Pence told "Fox and Friends" he "wasn't sure if she was ripping up the speech or ripping up the Constitution."
Image: Nancy Pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tears up a copy of President Donald Trump's State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Feb. 4, 2020.Alex Brandon / AP

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By Allan Smith

Conservative blowback after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday night ripped apart a copy of President Donald Trump's State of the Union speech intensified Wednesday as Vice President Mike Pence called it a "new low" and Trump promoted more than a dozen posts with the "#PelosiTantrum" hashtag.

The gesture came at the conclusion of the highly partisan speech from the president — one which was met with raucous cheers from Republicans and groans from Democrats. At one point during Trump's address, he awarded Rush Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation's highest civilian honor — one day after the inflammatory conservative radio host announced he had advanced lung cancer.

As Trump reached the lectern, he did not shake Pelosi's outstretched hand before beginning his address. Pelosi pointed to that moment on Twitter after ripping apart her copy of his address.

On "Fox and Friends" on Wednesday, Pence said he didn't see Pelosi, D-Calif., tear the copy in real time, but said he "wasn't sure if she was ripping up the speech or ripping up the Constitution."

"It's clear the contrast here was a president who spent an hour and a half making the speech about America," he said. "And Nancy Pelosi in the final moments tried to make it about her."

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy also criticized Pelosi, telling "Fox and Friends" that, "look, there are things she says I disagree with. I don't rip them up."

Later on Fox News, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway asked "what is the matter with" Pelosi and said it "looked like she was reading the Cheesecake Factory menu all night going through every single page" during Trump's address.

Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said on Twitter she was "Disappointed to see @SpeakerPelosi rip up the speech that mentioned lives we’ve lost and heroes we celebrated at the SOTU."

"No matter how you feel or what you disagree with, remember others are watching," she said. "This was unbecoming of someone at her level in office."

Trump promoted Haley's tweet along with roughly two dozen others critical of Pelosi's actions, including 19 with the #PelosiTantrum hashtag. Those posts said Pelosi's move "plays into every female stereotype," that she should be "forced to resign," that "uncouth is too polite" to describe the actions, and that the Senate will soon do the same to the two articles of impeachment Trump faces because "karma is a b----."

Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., joined in too, tweeting that his father "will have the last laugh when he gets to shred nasty Nancy’s bulls--- articles of impeachment later today."

Pelosi issued a statement soon after Trump's speech explaining why she tore up the papers.

"The manifesto of mistruths presented in page after page of the address tonight should be a call to action for everyone who expects truth from the President and policies worthy of his office and the American people," she said.

Trump's address came a day before the Senate vote on the articles of impeachment, which is almost certain to end in an acquittal.

Leaving the House floor Tuesday, Pelosi said she tore up the speech "because it was the courteous thing to do, considering the alternative."

At a Democratic caucus meeting Wednesday, multiple sources inside the room told NBC News that Pelosi called Trump's address a "disgrace" and accused him of turning the speech into a "reality show."

"Last night, we saw the President of the United States shred the truth right in front of us, tear up the truth," Pelosi said, according to an aide in the room. "We saw him lie about pre-existing conditions, that he’s the champion when he’s in court suing for it."

According to the aide, she said that "tried to find one page I could spare that didn’t have a lie on it."

"I didn’t go in there to tear up the speech, and I didn’t even care that he didn’t shake my hand, in fact, who cares?," she said, according to the aide. "But I’m a speed reader, so I read – you know – I went like this through the speech. So I knew that it was a pack of lies. I knew it was a pack of lies, but I thought, ‘Well, let’s see how it goes.’ About a quarter through it I thought, 'You know – he’s selling a bill of goods like a snake oil salesman. We cannot let this – we cannot let this stand.'"

Fellow Democrats gave her a standing ovation for her remarks, the sources said.

Alex Moe contributed.