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False idols, money on fire, hate-filled children: Sarah Huckabee Sanders paints bleak picture of Biden's America

The Arkansas governor's speech contrasted sharply with President Joe Biden's State of the Union address earlier in the night.
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Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders zeroed in on culture war issues in her response to President Joe Biden's State of the Union address Tuesday, excoriating “the radical left’s America."

"I'll be the first to admit, President Biden and I don't have a lot in common," she said. "I'm for freedom. He's for government control. At 40, I'm the youngest governor in the country, and at 80, he's the oldest president in American history. I'm the first woman to lead my state. And he's the first man to surrender his presidency to a woke mob that can't even tell you what a woman is."

Sanders drew a significant contrast with Biden by focusing on culture war issues such as race, education and LGBTQ rights. Biden, on the other hand, sought to spotlight bipartisan dealmaking, efforts to combat Russia and China and plans to boost manufacturing jobs — although he did at times spar directly with GOP lawmakers and call for action on hot-button issues like guns and immigration.

The two speeches gave an idea of what both parties are likely to pitch to voters in the early months of the 2024 presidential campaign.

Sanders, the daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, was former President Donald Trump's White House press secretary until 2019. Trump encouraged her to run for governor after she left his administration.

Being chosen to deliver the response to the State of the Union address is considered both an honor and a risk, with some past attempts becoming famous flops.

Nevertheless, the task is often given to politicians seen as rising stars, including Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who are both potential 2024 presidential candidates. Some have mentioned Sanders as a potential vice presidential candidate.

In her 14-minute address, Sanders, who was elected in November, argued that the new "dividing line in America is no longer between right or left; the choice is between normal or crazy," and said Biden's administration "has been completely hijacked by the radical left."

"Washington taxes you and lights your hard-earned money on fire, but you get crushed with high gas prices, empty grocery shelves, and our children are taught to hate one another on account of their race but not to love one another or our great country," she said.

"Every day, we are told that we must partake in their rituals, salute their flags and worship their false idols … all while big government colludes with Big Tech to strip away the most American thing there is — your freedom of speech," she continued. "That’s not normal. It’s crazy, and it’s wrong."

Huckabee also highlighted early initiatives she signed in office, like an executive order banning the word “Latinx” from official use in the state government. She also pointed to an order prohibiting Arkansas schools from teaching critical race theory and her repealing of Covid emergency orders.

She accused Democrats of having "destroyed" everything built during the Trump administration, although she did not mention Trump by name.

“[T]he Biden administration seems more interested in woke fantasies than the hard reality Americans face every day,” she said. “Most Americans simply want to live their lives in freedom and peace, but we are under attack in a left-wing culture war we didn’t start and never wanted to fight.”

"Today our freedom is under attack, and the America we love is in danger," she added. "President Biden and the Democrats have failed to change. A new generation of Republican leaders are stepping up, not to be caretakers of the status quo, but to be change-makers for the American people."