Televised Opposition Responses to the President's Message

The practice began in 1966 when the television networks provided the Republican party with a half-hour slot. Senator Everett Dirksen (Republican, Illinois) and Representative Gerald R. Ford (Republican, Michigan) delivered the first opposition response. By 1976 the television networks were providing a slot for the opposition party almost immediately after the State of the Union address.

YearResponse
1966 Senator Everett Dirksen (R-IL) and Rep. Gerald Ford (R-MI) responded to President Lyndon Johnson’s annual message, which was delivered on January 12, 1966. The Republican response was the first organized, televised response to the annual message.

1967

Everett Dirksen (R-IL) and Rep. Gerald Ford (R-MI) responded to President Johnson’s annual message on January 10, 1967.

1968

Republican Members of Congress participated in a televised rebuttal to President Johnson’s annual message delivered on January 17, 1968. The program included comments from Rep. William Steiger (R-WI), Senator Thomas Kuchel (R-CA), Rep. Gerald Ford (R-MI), Senator Charles Percy (R-IL), Rep. Richard Poff (R-VA), Rep. George Bush (R-TX), Rep. Robert Mathias (R-CA), Senator Howard Baker (R-TN), Senator Hugh Scott (R-PA), Senator John Tower (R-TX), Rep. Charlotte Reid (R-IL), Senator Peter Dominick (R-CO), Rep. Albert Quie (R-MN), Rep. Melvin Laird (R-WI), Senator Robert P. Griffin (R-MI), and Senator George Murphy (R-CA).

1969

No response. President Johnson’s annual message was delivered on January 14, 1969. President Richard Nixon’s inauguration was held on January 20, 1969.

1970

Democrats responded to President Nixon’s annual message on January 22, 1970, with a 45-minute televised program that included comments from Senator William Proxmire (D-WI), Rep. Donald Fraser (D-MN), Senator Mike Mansfield (D-MT), Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson (D-WA), Senator Edmund Muskie (D-ME), Rep. Patsy Mink (D-HI), and Rep. John McCormack (D-MA).

1971

Senator Mike Mansfield (D-MT) offered the Democratic response to President Nixon’s annual message, which was delivered on January 22, 1971.

1972

Democrats responded to President Nixon’s annual message on January 20, 1972: Senator William Proxmire (D-WI), Senator Frank Church (D-ID), Senator Thomas Eagleton (D-MO), Senator Lloyd Bentsen (D-TX), Rep. Leonor Sullivan (D-MO), Rep. John Melcher (D-MT), Rep. John Brademas (D-IN), Rep. Martha Griffiths (D-MI), Rep. Ralph Metcalfe (D-IL), Rep. Carl Albert (D-OK), and Rep. Hale Boggs (D-LA).

1973

No response. Inauguration of President Nixon.

1974

Senator Mike Mansfield (D-MT) offered the Democratic response to President Nixon's annual message, which was delivered on January 20, 1974.

1975

Senator Hubert Humphrey (D-MN) and Representative Carl Albert (D-OK) provided the Democratic response to President Gerald R. Ford’s annual message, which was delivered on January 15, 1975.

1976

Senator Edmund Muskie (D-ME) provided the Democratic response to President Ford’s annual message, which was delivered on January 19, 1976.

1977

No response to President Ford’s final annual message delivered on January 12, 1977.

1978

Senator Howard Baker Jr. (R-TN) and Rep. John Rhodes (R-AZ) offered the Republican response to President Jimmy Carter’s annual message, which was delivered on January 19, 1978.

1979

Senator Howard Baker Jr. (R-TN) and Rep. John Rhodes (R-AZ) provided the Republican response to President Carter’s annual message, which was delivered on January 23, 1979.

1980

Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Rep. John Rhodes (R-AZ) provided the Republican response to President Carter’s annual message, which was delivered on January 23, 1980.

1981

No response. Inauguration of President Ronald Reagan on January 20, 1981.1

1982

Democrats responded to President Reagan’s speech delivered on January 26, 1982, with a prerecorded program televised on major networks: Senator Donald Riegle (D-MI), Senator James Sasser (D-TN), Rep. Albert Gore, Jr. (D-TN), Senator Robert Byrd (D-W.Va), Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), House Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill (D-MA), Senator Gary Hart (D-CO), Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), Senator J. Bennett Johnston (D-LA), and Senator Alan Cranston (D-CA).

1983

Democrats responded to President Reagan’s annual message delivered on January 25, 1983, with a 28-minute prerecorded program. Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), Senator Paul Tsongas (D-MA), Senator Bill Bradley (D-NJ), Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), Rep. Tom Daschle (D-SD), Rep. Barbara Kennelly (D-CT), House Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill (D-MA), Rep. George Miller (D-CA), Rep. Les AuCoin (D-OR), Rep. Paul Simon (D-IL), Rep. Timothy Wirth (D-CO), and Rep. W.G. “Bill” Hefner (D-NC).

1984

Democrats responded to President Reagan’s annual message on January 25, 1984. Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), Sen. David Boren (D-OK), Senator Carl M. Levin (D-MI), Senator Max S. Baucus (D-MT), Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), Senator Clairborne Pell (D-RI), Senator Walter Huddleston (D-KY), Rep. Dante B. Fascell (D-FL), Rep. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Rep. William Gray (D-PA), House Speaker Thomas O’Neill (D-MA), and Rep. Barbara Boxer (D-CA).

1985

In response to President Reagan’s annual message on February 6, 1985, the Democratic Party provided a televised discussion among randomly selected Democratic voters. Gov. Bill Clinton (D-AR), Gov. Bob Graham (D-FL), House Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill (D-MA).

1986

Senators George Mitchell (D-ME), Lt. Gov. Harriett Woods (D-MO), Gov. Charles Robb (D-VA), Rep. Thomas Daschle (D-SD), Rep. William Gray (D-PA) responded to President Reagan’s annual message on February 4, 1986.

1987

Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) and House Speaker Jim Wright (D-TX) responded to President Reagan’s annual message on January 27, 1987.

1988

Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) and House Speaker Jim Wright (D-TX) responded to President Reagan’s annual message on January 25, 1988.

1989

House Speaker Jim Wright (D-TX) and Senator Lloyd Bentsen (D-TX) responded to President George H.W. Bush’s annual message.

1990

House Speaker Tom Foley (D-WA) offered the Democratic response to President Bush’s annual message on January 31, 1990.

1991

Senator George Mitchell (D-ME) offered the Democratic response to President Bush’s annual message delivered on January 29, 1991.

1992

House Speaker Tom Foley (D-WA) responded to President Bush’s annual message delivered on January 28, 1992.

1993

No response. Inauguration of President William J. Clinton.2

1994

Senator Robert Dole (R-KS) responded to President Clinton’s annual message, which was delivered on January 25, 1994.

1995

Governor Christine Todd Whitman (R-NJ) responded to President Clinton’s annual message which was delivered on January 24, 1995.

1996

Senator Robert Dole (R-KS) offered the Republican response to President Clinton’s annual message, which was delivered on January 23, 1996.

1997

Rep. J.C. Watts (R-OK) offered the Republican response to President Clinton’s annual message, which was delivered on February 4, 1997.

1998

Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) offered the Republican response to President Clinton’s annual message delivered on January 27, 1998.

1999

Rep. Jennifer Dunn (R-WA) and Rep. Steven Largent (R-OK) offered the Republican response to President Clinton’s annual message which was delivered on January 19, 1999.

2000

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator William Frist (R-TN) offered the Republican response to President Clinton’s final annual message on January 27, 2000.

2001

No response. Inauguration of President George W. Bush.3

2002

Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-MO) offered the Democratic response to President Bush’s first annual message delivered on January 29, 2002.

2003

Governor Gary Lock (D-WA) offered the Democratic response to President George W. Bush’s annual message delivered on January 28, 2003.

2004

Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) offered the Democratic response to President Bush’s annual message delivered on January 23, 2004.

2005

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) offered the Democratic response to President Bush’s annual message delivered on February 2, 2005.

2006

Governor Timothy Kaine (D-VA) offered the Democratic response to President George W. Bush’s annual message delivered on January 31, 2006.

2007

Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) offered the Democratic response to President George W. Bush’s annual message delivered on January 23, 2007.

2008

Governor Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS) offered the Democratic response to President George W. Bush’s annual message delivered on January 28, 2008.

2009

No response. Inauguration of President Barack H. Obama.4

2010

Governor Bob McDonnell (R-VA) offered the Republican response to President Barack H. Obama’s annual message delivered on January 27, 2010.

2011

Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) offered the Republican response to President Barack H. Obama’s annual message delivered on January 25, 2011.

2012

Governor Mitch Daniels (R-IN) offered the Republican response to President Barack H. Obama’s annual message delivered on January 24, 2012.
2013    Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) offered the Republican response to President Barack H. Obama’s annual message delivered on February 12, 2013.

2014Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) offered the Republican response to President Barack H. Obama's annual message delivered on January 28, 2014.

    Footnotes

    1President Reagan delivered a speech on economic recovery on February 18, 1981. No opposition response was offered.

    2Rep. Bob Michel (R-IL) offered the Republican response to President Bill Clinton’s Economic Address, which was delivered on February 17, 1993.

    3President Bush delivered the annual Budget Message on February 27, 2001. No opposition response was offered.

    4President Barack H. Obama delivered a message on the economic crisis on February 24, 2009. Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) delivered the Republican response.