Washington — Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday sought to draw distinctions between her fellow Republicans and President Biden following his State of the Union address, characterizing the differences between the GOP and Democrats as extending beyond policies, but rather a choice between "normal and crazy."
Sanders, who in November was elected as Arkansas's first female governor, delivered the Republican response to Mr. Biden's speech from the governor's mansion in Little Rock. She ran for governor after serving as White House press secretary under former President Donald Trump.
"The dividing line in America is no longer between right or left," Sanders said. "The choice is between normal or crazy. It is time for a new generation of Republican leadership."
Sanders claimed Mr. Biden and his Democratic colleagues have "failed" the American people, and declared that it's "time for a change."
"America is the greatest country the world has ever known because we are the freest country the world has ever known, with a people who are strong and resilient," she said.
Sanders focused her response on many of the "culture war" issues that have motivated conservatives, and largely bucked the message of unity and bipartisanship that wound through Mr. Biden's address. Instead, she attacked the president as the "first man to surrender his presidency to a woke mob that can't even tell you what a woman is."
"In the radical left's America, Washington taxes you and lights your hard-earned money on fire, but you get crushed with high gas prices, empty grocery shelves, and our children are taught to hate one another on account of their race, but not to love one another or our great country," she said.
Sanders criticized Mr. Biden for his border policies, claiming they have led to a flood of fentanyl crossing the border, and accused the administration of being beholden to "woke fantasies."
"Every day, we are told that we must partake in their rituals, salute their flags, and worship their false idols, all while big government colludes with big tech to strip away the most American thing there is — your freedom of speech," she said. "That's not normal. It's crazy and it's wrong."
Declaring Mr. Biden "unfit" to serve, Sanders sought to contrast Republicans' agenda with that of Democrats, and vowed the GOP will resist political correctness to "do what's right." She went on to preview an education package to be unveiled Wednesday that will increase Arkansas teachers' starting salaries.
"It's time for a new generation to lead. This is our moment. This is our opportunity," she said.
Sanders concluded her speech by claiming that Americans' freedom is "under attack" and again declaring that it's time for a change in the nation's leadership.
"A new generation of Republican leaders is stepping up, not to be caretakers of the status quo, but to be change-makers for the American people," she said. "We know not what the future holds, but we know who holds the future in His hands. And with God as our witness, we will show the world that America is still the place where freedom reigns and liberty will never die."
Those who are selected to deliver the response to the president's State of the Union are generally viewed as rising stars in political circles. GOP Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, who is mulling a presidential run, delivered the response in 2021 and former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, who is expected to announce her White House bid next week, delivered it in 2016.
Rep. Juan Ciscomani of Arizona delivered the Republican response in Spanish.
— Kristin Brown contributed to this report