Politics

Democratic Rep. Joe Kennedy III responds to Trump: Richest nation 'shouldn't leave anyone behind'

Rep. Joe Kennedy III delivered a broad rebuke of President Donald Trump's policies on Tuesday night, downplaying the president's effect on the U.S. economy and pushing back on his immigration goals.

In the official Democratic response to Trump's first State of the Union address, the Massachusetts Democrat also said that "bullies" cannot "match the strength and spirit of a people united in defense of their future."

Trump spent much of his speech to Congress touting economic figures as evidence of his administration's success. He highlighted stock market gains, job growth and tax cuts to show what he has done for Americans.

Speaking to vocational students in Fall River, Mass., the congressman argued that Trump's policies have not done enough to help American workers. His rebuttal featured an audience reacting, which State of the Union responses have not always included.

"We see an economy that makes stocks soar, investor portfolios bulge and corporate profits climb but fails to give workers their fair share of the reward," said Kennedy, 37, the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy.

Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) takes the stage to deliver the Democratic rebuttal to U.S. President Donald Trump's State of the Union address in Fall River, Massachusetts, U.S., January 30, 2018.
Brian Snyder | Reuters
Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) takes the stage to deliver the Democratic rebuttal to U.S. President Donald Trump's State of the Union address in Fall River, Massachusetts, U.S., January 30, 2018.

"We choose an economy strong enough to boast record stock prices AND brave enough to admit that top CEOs making 300 times the average worker is not right," he added.

Kennedy said Americans could too often face a "false choice" between demographic groups or geographic areas. He added that "the strongest, richest, greatest nation in the world shouldn't leave any one behind."

Kennedy also praised demonstrators who protest Trump's administration. He countered Trump's rhetoric on immigration and criticized the president's insistence on building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico

"You sat high atop your mom's shoulders and held a sign that read: 'Build a wall and my generation will tear it down,'" Kennedy said of protesters.

He added that the U.S. "will be judged by the promises we keep."

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