‘He rope-a-doped them’: Democrats celebrate GOP jeers at SOTU

Schumer said on Democrats’ side of the room Tuesday, “there was excitement” as Biden was “hitting it out of the park.” The contrast with the Republican side of the room, he said, will be “remembered for quite a while, by anybody who watched it.”

At one particularly tense moment, GOP lawmakers booed the president when he claimed Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset — referring to Sen. Rick Scott’s (R-Fla.) proposal to wind down all laws after five years. Biden went off-script as the outrage from Republicans on the floor grew louder, attempting to clarify “I don’t think it is a majority of you” and finally saying, “So folks, as we all apparently agree, Social Security and Medicare, off the books now, right?”

Schumer said Wednesday “there is no way” to eliminate the deficit in 10 years — a goal of Republican leadership — without slashing Medicare and Social Security, though House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) did pledge Tuesday that he wouldn’t touch the two programs in the ongoing debt limit fight. The New York Democrat also called Biden “deft” for letting Republicans “walk into his trap” by essentially making them assert to the public they aren’t for cutting Medicare and Social Security.

“Joe Biden was so deft. He let them walk into his trap. He rope-a-doped them,” Schumer said. “And now all of America has seen the Republican Party say, ‘No, we’re not going to cut Social security and Medicare.’ He did a service.”

Vice President Kamala Harris called the Republican jeering “theatrical” and applauded the president for being “in command” and staying “focused on the American people” as opposed to “the gamesmanship that was being played in the room.”

“The president, it’s his nature and it’s his commitment to the American people to work across the aisle,” Harris said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “That’s not going to stop even if some people are cynical about it.”

Assistant Democratic leader Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.) said Biden’s speech could be a preview for his 2024 campaign for reelection, should he make good on his stated intentions to mount another White House bid. Clyburn added that “it was the best effort I’ve seen” from Biden in a “long, long time,” and praised his “maturity” in responding to the hecklers.

“I saw in him last night the kind of maturity that the American people would like to see in a president,” Clyburn said. “He took on the hecklers. Let them have their say. Gave them a nice little smile and responded in a very positive way.”

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