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Democrats defend Pelosi for ripping up Trump's State of the Union speech

Highlights from State of the Union address

Washington — Democrats on Capitol Hill are coming to Speaker Nancy Pelosi's defense after she dramatically ripped up her copy of President Trump's State of the Union address Tuesday night, earning condemnation from the president's supporters.

After the address, Pelosi called the speech a "manifesto of mistruths" and told reporters that ripping it up was "courteous" compared to the alternatives. Republicans likened the move to a "temper tantrum," and Mr. Trump retweeted two dozen tweets disparaging Pelosi in the hours after the address.

But Democrats defended and even praised the speaker. Congressman Hakeem Jeffries quipped that "as far as I'm concerned the shredder wasn't available, and so she did what she needed to do." Congressman Jerry Nadler said he was "delighted" by Pelosi's action, saying the president's speech was full of "lie after lie."

Several Democratic senators also leapt to Pelosi's defense.

"To have to sit there and listen to the president's lies, it's pretty hard to take. So she did what she did," Senator Mazie Hirono told CBS News. Senator Chris Van Hollen said Pelosi "did what a lot of us were feeling," as the president had "turned the House chamber into his campaign circus event."

Senator Tim Kaine noted that Mr. Trump seemingly ignored Pelosi's outstretched hand before he began his speech, and raised the president's decision to honor controversial radio host Rush Limbaugh with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He noted that Limbaugh has repeatedly insulted Pelosi on his radio show.

"So you think it's OK for him to not shake her hand and give a Presidential Medal of Freedom to somebody who's called her every name in the book and lied about health care, and she can't respond?" Kaine said.

Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, said it was Democrats' responsibility to "rise above" the president's words and actions.

"I think our challenges as public leaders, all of us, is not to simply reflect and amplify that division but to find moments where we can work to heal some of our sharp divisions," Coons said. "It is a challenge for all of us in public life not to respond in kind to some of the things that the president does and says but to instead find ways to rise above it."

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