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Pelosi Sees Bipartisanship 'Responsibility,' But Not at 'Lowest Common Denominator'

Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) points to someone in the gallery as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) waves before President Trump's State of the Union Address on Jan. 30, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) analyzed President Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday night as “a speech of unwarranted self-congratulatory comments” that pointed out “the courage, the sacrifice of the people in the audience, as if he had something to do with the successes that they had achieved.”

“It was a very transformative speech for some of us last night, because, while our expectations for greatness and vision with the president are not high, he stooped to a new low in terms of how he dealt with issues,” Pelosi said at a morning press conference on Capitol Hill, citing immigration and the president’s “disdainful” treatment of the opioid epidemic.

Charging that Trump used “more insulting words of ignorance and prejudice toward patriotic immigrant families last night,” she praised presidents Reagan and Bush 41 as being “great on immigration” and protecting “a higher percentage of people than Barack Obama, President Obama, did with his executive orders.”

She called Bush 43 “one of the best presidents in advocating for immigrants and what immigration means to America — could not convince his own party.”

Trump, therefore, Pelosi declared, is a “complete departure of Republican presidents in modern times… taking us down a road, just red meat for his base.”

Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said he wore a black suit to the address in solidarity with the #MeToo movement, and wore a kente tie “as many other members of the Black Caucus did, and many wore shawls and scarves in kente colors” in “solidarity with Haiti, El Salvador and those countries on the continent of Africa that were referred to by our president in very derogatory terms.”

Clyburn took issue with Trump taking the name of illegal immigrants brought to the county as children — DREAMers, after the DREAM Act — and declaring, “Americans dream, too.”

“We know that. I grew up dreaming. Many of us still adhere very much to the dream enunciated by Martin Luther King Jr. back in 1963. But to use that condition to denigrate, to dilute the emphasis we’re trying to place on those young people — some not so young now — brought to this country through no fault of their own, and dreaming of becoming citizens — of becoming productive citizens in our country — for the president to demean them as he did last night was a very, very low point to me,” Clyburn said.

“Coming close to that was the president attempting to take credit for the unemployment rate of African-Americans in the country,” he added, noting black unemployment’s decline beginning in President Obama’s second term.

Pelosi said that “without any basis on evidence, data and the rest,” Trump was making “these statements about newcomers to our country, and equating it in a criminal way.”

“What was that about? What was that about last night?” she asked. “So it was, well, I would say confusing. It was worse than that. It was dangerous, what he said last night. And it has instilled fear. As I’ve said over and over, what he is doing brings tears to the eyes of the Statue of Liberty, and instills fear in the hearts of people who are concerned about our DREAMers.”

Pelosi also charged that Trump was “redefining the nuclear family” by proposing limiting family reunification migration to only spouses and minor children.

The House Dem leader said her party has a “responsibility to find common ground” in Congress, but “that doesn’t go to the lowest common denominator.”