Multiple Democrats walked out before President Donald Trump finished his State of the Union address on Tuesday night. Reps. Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Bill Pascrell (N.J.), Tim Ryan (Ohio) and Jackie Speier (Calif.) left the room before Trump’s hour-plus speech concluded.
“I walked out of that speech,” Tlaib tweeted after Trump’s address ended. “The lies, the bigotry, and the shameless bragging about taking away food stamps that people depend on to live ― it was all beneath the dignity of the office he occupies. Shame on this forever impeached president.”
Pascrell called Trump a liar, tweeting that his presidency is “a national tragedy.” Ryan tweeted that he walked out of the State of the Union speech because “it’s like watching professional wrestling. It’s all fake.”
A representative for Speier confirmed to HuffPost that the congresswoman walked out after Trump discussed using an executive order to restrict abortion care.
Trump’s speech, themed “The Great American Comeback,” focused on issues such as immigration, the economy and health care.
During the address, the president awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, who announced yesterday that he has been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. Limbaugh, a conspiracy theorist and major Trump supporter, now joins civil rights activist Rosa Parks and humanitarian activist Helen Keller as a recipient of the prestigious award.
At least eight other Democrats boycotted Trump’s address, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) and Maxine Waters (Calif.). Ocasio-Cortez tweeted earlier on Tuesday that she would not use her “presence at a state ceremony to normalize Trump’s lawless conduct [and] subversion of the Constitution.”
“None of this is normal, and I will not legitimize it,” the first-term congresswoman added.
Toward the end of Trump’s speech, a protester was removed from one of the galleries after shouting something while the president was discussing how the Second Amendment was “under siege all across our country.” It was later revealed that the person was Fred Guttenberg, the father of Jaime Guttenberg, a 14-year-old student who was killed in the Parkland, Florida, school shooting. It was unclear what Guttenberg shouted from the top gallery, but he was escorted outside by security.
Kasie Hunt, an NBC News correspondent, reported that “many Democrats on the floor turned toward the gallery” where Guttenberg was sitting and “applauded him as he was taken out of the chamber.”
Guttenberg was invited to the State of the Union as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) guest.
After Trump concluded his address, Pelosi ripped up her copy of his speech she had in front of her. Pelosi and other Democratic women wore white in a show of protest against Trump and to honor the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.
Democratic lawmakers have boycotted Trump’s State of the Union addresses in the past. In 2019 and 2018, several Democrats did not attend the address to protest the president’s lies and racist rhetoric.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to the Presidential Medal of Freedom as the Presidential Medal of Honor.