WASHINGTON — Arkansas Republicans for the most part sat stoically as President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address Tuesday night.
Republicans remained in their seats while Democrats stood and applauded Obama’s call for a higher minimum wage, immigration reform, and new economic development and education initiatives.
“I think the president really promised everything to everyone,” Sen. John Boozman said afterward. “Lots of promises with I don’t think any ability to pay for them.”
Reps. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, and Tom Cotton, R-Dardanelle, offered similar after-speech reactions.
“I’m still waiting for how we pay for it,” Womack said.
“There were many words and some of which I agree with but frankly I don’t think he is a credible messenger,” Cotton said.
Even on issues Republicans support like tax reform, Griffin said the president has made similar proposals but failed to follow through.
“The question is action and with his track record it doesn’t bode well,” Griffin said.
Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, said he disagrees with Obama’s big government philosophy.
“When I talk to folks back home in Arkansas, they tell me big government is the problem,” Crawford said.
Sen. Mark Pryor, the lone Democrat in the delegation, said he thought Obama had tried to bridge the partisan divide by focusing on jobs, the economy and the deficit in the first half of the address.
“I liked the bipartisan themes,” Pryor said. “He talked about entitlement reform and tax reform.”
The Arkansas delegation did stand and applaud – along with most of those in the House chamber – when Obama challenged North Korea and Iran on their efforts to secure a nuclear weapon.
“We will do what is necessary to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon,” Obama said.
“I’m glad he has a zero tolerance for Iran and nuclear weapons,” Womack said.