Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds touts Republican leadership in rebuttal to Biden’s State of the Union

Iowa politics were in the national spotlight as Gov. Kim Reynolds, R-Iowa, reacted to Democratic President Joe Biden during the Republican rebuttal to the State of the Union address.


Gov. Kim Reynolds stands in front of the Iowa Capitol to deliver the Republican response to President Biden’s State of the Union address. Contributed by Alex Murphy.

Natalie Dunlap and Meg Doster

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds took the national stage on Tuesday night to deliver the Republican rebuttal to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address. She criticized the Biden administration on foriegn policy, inflation, and COVID-19 mandates. 

“We know that our problems require bold action, but we also know that bold action doesn’t have to mean government action. It’s Americans making their own decisions for their own families and future,” Reynolds said. 

Reynolds touted the leadership of herself and other Republican governors who implemented limited COVID-19 mitigation over the last two years. Reynolds is one of few governors who never introduced a stay-at-home order early in the pandemic, and she never introduced a full-scale mask mandate. Reynolds signed bills into law restricting mask mandates in schools and requiring in-person learning in the 2020-2021 school year.  

The State of the Union address came as Russia is invading Ukraine, leading to the largest war in Europe in decades and drawing sanctions from Europe and the U.S. Reynolds said Americans must stand with Ukrainanians as they face military attacks from Russian President Vladimir Putin. She also critiqued Biden’s leadership abroad.  

“Weakness on the world stage has a cost. And the President’s approach to foreign policy has consistently been too little, too late,” she said. “It’s time for America to once again project confidence; it’s time to be decisive. It’s time to lead, but we cannot project strength abroad if we’re weak at home.” 

Reynolds wore a pin with the American and Ukrainian flags during her speech. 

In D.C. attendants of Biden’s speech wore yellow and blue clothes and held Ukrainian flags to show solidarity. 

“[Putin] thought he could roll into Ukraine and the world would roll over,” Biden said. “Instead he met a wall of strength he never imagined. He met the Ukrainian people.” 

Biden said the U.S. will work to defend NATO territory. 

“I know news about what’s happening can seem alarming to all Americans. But I want you to know, we’re going to be okay. We’re going to be okay,” he said. “When the history of this era is written, Putin’s war on Ukraine will have left Russia weaker and the rest of the world stronger.”

Biden addressed inflation, and said that he will work to lower the cost of goods and supplies. He also said that companies should stop relying on foreign supply chains and should solely use American businesses.

“I’m a capitalist, but capitalism without competition is not capitalism,” Biden said. “Capitalism without competition is exploitation.”

Biden said that he would be appointing a chief prosecutor to charge people who received COVID-19 relief money without actually needing it.

Earlier on Tuesday, Reynolds signed a bill into law that will eventually apply a flat tax rate for Iowans, which she touted in her speech. 

In a press call on Tuesday, House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst, D-Windsor Heights, said the tax cut was pushed through in time for Reynolds to bring it to the national stage. 

RELATED: Gov. Kim Reynolds signs flat tax rate into Iowa law

“She does what the national Republicans want her to do whether or not it’s in the best interest of Iowans, and she’s being rewarded with the prime time speaking slot tonight,” Konfrst said. “That’s not because she’s done amazing things for the state of Iowa. It’s because she’s done amazing things for the Republican Party. And that’s who she’s answering to, and that’s who she leads for.” 

Reynolds criticized Biden’s Build Back Better plan, saying that it’s a tax giveaway to millionaires and billionaires in Democrat-controlled states like California, New York, and New Jersey.

“No one making less than $400,000 a year will be taxed a single penny more,” Biden said about his tax plan.

In his address, Biden also condemned state action targeting transgender Americans and their families. 

Recently Texas Gov. Greg Abbott directed child welfare officials to investigate families who provide their child with gender affirming care with child abuse. In the Iowa legislature, a bill that would prohibit transgender women from competing with other women passed in through the Iowa House, and a companion bill in the Senate passed through the education committees.

“To transgender Americans, I’ll always have your back as your president,” Biden said. “So you can be yourself and reach your God-given potential.”

Reynolds said everything feels backwards under the Biden administration. 

“We now live in a country where violent crime is out of control, liberal prosecutors are letting criminals off easy, and many prominent Democrats still want to defund the police,” she said. 

In his address, Biden said he was in favor of funding the police with resources and training. He also said America needs to secure its border, which contradicted Reynold’s claim that his administration refuses to do so. 

Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls, D-Coralville, said in a Tuesday press call that Reynold’s speech suggested she had her eye on higher office. 

“Iowans deserve a governor who is fully focused on addressing the needs of Iowans, not who’s looking to the next rung in the political ladder,” he said. 

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said in a press release that Reynolds is pushing back against a “woke agenda” from the left. 

“Governor Reynolds’ response stood in stark contrast to the first-year failures of the Biden agenda,” Ernst said. “She made the case for freedom and liberty, and held Iowa up as a shining example of what happens under strong, conservative leadership and a plan to put our families first.”

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, said in a press release Iowa is leading the way in opening schools, lowering taxes, and allowing businesses to stay open. 

“There truly is no better Governor in the country than Kim Reynolds, and now the rest of the country knows why,” she said.