Los Angeles Times

Three reasons for California­ns to watch address

Residents have extra things to look for in the president’s State of the Union speech.

- By Nolan D. McCaskill

WASHINGTON — President Biden delivers his annual State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday evening.

For politicall­y engaged audiences, it’s an opportunit­y to hear the president lay out his accomplish­ments and priorities.

For others less interested in hearing what the president has to say, the speech could still be worth watching, particular­ly for California­ns.

Here are three things to look for:

The Bidens will have a special guest

Brandon Tsay, the 26year-old who disarmed a gunman at Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in Alhambra, will attend the State of the Union as a guest of the president. He was also invited to the event by Rep. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park), his congresswo­man.

“He saved so many lives,” Chu said. “In fact, I really, truly believe that double the amount of deaths would have occurred had he not [intervened].”

Tsay is expected to be seated in First Lady Jill Biden’s viewing box and probably singled out by the president for his actions.

If so, expect an outpouring of bipartisan support and applause — perhaps one of the few during the speech — for Tsay.

Intel Chief Executive Patrick “Pat” Gelsinger of Santa Clara, Calif., was in the first lady’s box last year.

Speaker McCarthy to sit behind Biden

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfiel­d) will sit beside Vice President Kamala Harris on the dais at the State of the Union, often appearing in television shots with the two Democratic leaders.

After barely convincing the right flank of his party to give him the speaker’s gavel, McCarthy’s interactio­ns and responses will be interestin­g to watch.

His predecesso­r, Nancy Pelosi, drew attention from that perch during the Trump administra­tion, shaking her head at his comments, sarcastica­lly applauding and once ripping up a copy of President Trump’s speech.

“I’m going to make a prediction right now,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said in an interview. “Unlike Nancy Pelosi,

I am confident Kevin McCarthy will not petulantly rip Joe Biden’s speech into pieces from the dais.”

But in an era when bipartisan­ship has become a dirty word, McCarthy may need to avoid seeming too cozy with Biden and Harris, or risk a backlash from his right flank.

When McCarthy formally invited Biden to deliver the address, he described it as his “solemn obligation.”

“He cannot be seen as fearful of the president,” said Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), chair of the Republican Study Committee. “It’s a fine balance.”

Cruz acknowledg­ed that State of the Union speeches “are always large part theater” and said he finds amusement in watching how lawmakers decide whether to stand or applaud over the most anodyne statements, “statements that any rational person who was conscious would agree with and yet half the Congress won’t applaud because of the inevitable partisansh­ip.”

He said, “for a lot of Republican­s, especially Republican House members, McCarthy will set an example of when to applaud and stand.”

McCarthy may also need to deal with outbursts or heckling from lawmakers, which have become increasing­ly common during State of the Union addresses.

Last year conservati­ve Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado heckled Biden during his address; Democratic women wore suffragett­e white and chanted “USA” during one of Trump’s speeches; GOP Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina shouted “You lie!” when President Obama said his healthcare reforms would not cover immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

Pelosi takes a seat away from the dais

Pelosi will be unbound from the responsibi­lity of having to sit behind the president for the duration of his address, which may make her movements all the more interestin­g.

As speaker, Pelosi’s taunts went viral during the last administra­tion. Now the Democratic speaker emerita will occupy a new seat in the crowd, one that’s away from the primary spotlight but still within view of reporters and photograph­ers, who can capture potentiall­y memorable moments that never appear on screen for viewers.

At the same time, Pelosi will probably want to avoid overshadow­ing her successor, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.).

 ?? Kevin Dietsch Getty Images ?? A WORKER helps install fencing around the U.S. Capitol on Sunday. President Biden is scheduled to deliver his State of the Union address on Tuesday night.
Kevin Dietsch Getty Images A WORKER helps install fencing around the U.S. Capitol on Sunday. President Biden is scheduled to deliver his State of the Union address on Tuesday night.

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