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How Trump and some of the potential 2024 GOP contenders responded to Biden's State of the Union address

Biden calls on lawmakers to "finish the job"
Biden calls on lawmakers to "finish the job" in State of the Union address 04:36

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders may have been chosen to deliver the official GOP response to President Biden's State of the Union speech on Tuesday, but other high-profile Republicans and potential presidential contenders were also ready with their own rapid reactions to his address.

Their responses offered an early preview of how they might run against Mr. Biden, their likely 2024 general election opponent, should he choose to run for reelection. 

Former President Donald Trump, the only officially declared Republican candidate for 2024, posted live reactions on his Truth Social platform throughout the address.

His posts ranged from observations about Mr. Biden's performance — "Too much use of the word 'folks!'" — to criticism of Republicans who applauded during his speech.  

"I notice Mitt Romney and some of the RINOs jumping up and down with applause for the wrong reasons!" he wrote. 

Trump also shared a two-minute video slamming the Biden administration on immigration, high gas prices and crime.

In the post of the video, Trump wrote that Biden "worked hard tonight" and that "you've got to give him credit for trying."

"I disagree with him on most of his policies, but he put into words what he felt, and he ended the evening far stronger than he began," Trump wrote. "Many things weren't mentioned that should have been, but that's for another time."

Trump, whose handling of classified documents found at his resort in Mar-a-Lago is under investigation by the Justice Department, called the department "weaponized" and said it is "persecuting" political opponents. The Justice Department is also investigating classified documents from Mr. Biden's tenure as vice president that were found at his former office and his home in Wilmington, Del.

His 2024 campaign often sent out releases as well, hitting Biden on everything from his policy on China to education and "parents' rights."

Before the address, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, too, released a video criticizing Mr. Biden. 

She took issue with his withdrawal from Afghanistan, which she called "one of the most consequential failures of his presidency."

During the speech, she criticized the president on immigration, inflation and foreign policy, and called for "a new generation of leadership," in a tweet.  

Haley is expected to announce her 2024 presidential run on Feb. 15 in Charleston, becoming the first notable Republican to compete against Trump in the primary. 

Former Vice President Mike Pence tweeted after Biden's address that it "showed one thing: That it is time for new Republican leadership to get our Nation back to the strength and prosperity we had under the Trump-Pence Administration."

Pence and Haley often trail Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in early 2024 polls on a hypothetical presidential primary field. In a nationwide poll released Monday by the conservative group Club for Growth Action, Trump led the field with 37%. DeSantis was second at 33%, followed by Pence at 7% and Haley with 5%.

DeSantis' official Twitter accounts did not post during or immediately after the State of the Union, though his team's rapid response account was active. 

Senator Tim Scott, another South Carolinian whose name has been floated by Republicans as a potential 2024  candidate, was active throughout the speech, criticizing Mr. Biden for not being proactive enough on the southern border or the Chinese spy balloon.

"Dividing the nation isn't the way to bring us together," he tweeted. "I want to find common sense on common ground, and I know we can do it."

Scott will be holding events in South Carolina and Iowa, two presidential primary states, later this month.  

Former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, who was a popular Republican governor in a historically Democratic state, said in a statement that while Mr. Biden had campaigned on unity, "America is more divided and fed up than ever" and that "more rhetoric won't fix any of these urgent challenges or get our country back on track."

"In November, the American people voted for change because they want to stop the reckless spending, increase our domestic energy production, get tough on violent crime, and address the crisis at the border," he said. "To fulfill his campaign promise, I urge President Biden to work with Congress to find common sense solutions to these urgent challenges."

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, in a phone call with CBS News before the State of the Union, sharply critiqued Biden on China, and called him "soft" and said he should "shoot straight" on China and not "ignore the spy balloon" in his remarks.

Asked about his own potential run in 2024, Youngkin said he was "completely focused on the Commonwealth of Virginia right now."

Fin Gomez and Robert Costa contributed reporting.

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