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Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds to give GOP response to State of Union

The speech is a high-profile opportunity to reach millions of Americans — but it has earned a reputation for embarrassment as well.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds attends a meeting at the White House on June 26, 2020.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds attends a meeting at the White House on June 26, 2020.Al Drago / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds will deliver the official Republican response to President Joe Biden's State of Union Address next week, congressional GOP leaders announced Tuesday.

Party leaders highlighted Reynold's resistance to Covid mandates in Iowa, where she banned school mask mandates and signed a law last year requiring schools to offer in-person learning options even as case rates rose.

“She handled Covid by choosing freedom over lockdowns and personal responsibility over mandates — leading to real economic recovery from the pandemic," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said in a statement. "She kept kids in school and critical race theory out."

When parties are out of power in Washington, they often reach beyond the Beltway for their official response to the president's address, offering lesser-known names a high-profile opportunity to reach millions of Americans in a speech broadcast immediately after the president's.

“While Washington Democrats fail working Americans, Republican governors are fighting and winning for families. Governor Kim Reynolds’ brave, bold, and successful leadership for Iowans has put her right at the front of that pack,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement. 

Reynolds is Iowa's first female governor and one of only nine in the country. She was elevated from lieutenant governor in 2017 when then-President Donald Trump appointed longtime Gov. Terry Branstad to be ambassador to China. Reynolds was then elected in her own right in 2018.

Reynolds is favored to win re-election this year in a state that has becoming increasingly Republican after former President Barack Obama, a Democrat, won it twice, though she has not yet formally declared her intention to seek another term.

Reynolds has been supportive of Trump and campaigned for him in 2020, though she called the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters "unacceptable."

“Republican Governors across America are leading the charge in defending liberty and securing unmatched economic prosperity in our states," Reynolds said. "The Biden Administration is governing from the far-left, ignoring the problems of working-class Americans while pushing an agenda that stifles free speech, free thought, and economic freedom."

The State of the Union response has helped raise the national profiles of politicians like Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a Republican.

But the awkward format and high stakes of the gig have also earned it a reputation for embarrassing some politicians — often for superficial reasons — from Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio's frequent water sipping to former Democratic Rep. Joe Kennedy's shiny lips.