Trump's State of the Union Guests: Veterans, School Choice Moms, a Miracle Baby

White House photo of Stephanie and Janiyah Davis.

President Donald Trump invited a few special guests to his third State of the Union address Tuesday evening. The guests include a school choice mom, the family of a veteran killed by the efforts of Quds Force leader Qasem Soleimani, a preemie baby born at 21 weeks, a former drug addict, and more.


Here are the twelve guests Trump invited.

1. Victims of Soleimani

Trump invited Kelli and Gage Hake from Stillwater, Oklahoma. The mother and son lost their husband and father, Army Staff Sergeant Christopher Hake. A roadside bomb supplied by Soleimani struck Christopher Hake’s vehicle, killing him. “Kelli and Gage directly suffered from Soleimani’s campaign to kill and maim U.S. service members,” the White House noted. “Last month, President Trump ordered the killing of Soleimani while he was once again trying to initiate attacks on American service members.”

Soleimani was a key Iranian leader responsible for a great deal of terrorism across the Middle East. Trump’s strike against him came after Iran-backed militias stormed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

2. A baby born at 21 weeks



Trump invited Robin and Ellie Schneider from Kansas City, Missouri. Now two, Ellie was born at just 21 weeks and six days, becoming one of the youngest babies born in the U.S. Trump has championed life inside and outside the womb, defunding Planned Parenthood, calling for restrictions on abortion, and condemning the radical pro-abortion positions of Democrats.

3. The school choice mom

White House photo of Stephanie and Janiyah Davis.


Trump invited Stephanie and Janiyah Davis from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. According to the White House, 4th-grade student Janiyah “for too long has been assigned to low-performing schools.” Stephanie Davis is a hardworking single mother who tried to apply for a tax credit scholarship, but Janiyah has remained one of the estimated 50,000 students on a waitlist due to Gov. Tom Wolf (D-Pa.) vetoing a school choice bill.

4. The former addict now providing opportunity for others

The president invited Tony Rankins from Cincinnati, Ohio. A U.S. Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, Rankins suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and became addicted to drugs. He lost his job, his family, served prison sentences, and ended up living out of his car. Yet thanks to the company “R Investments,” he learned carpentry, brick-work, and other construction trades. Now he works in an Opportunity Zone. He has overcome drug addiction and reunited with his family.

5. The entrepreneur

Trump also invited Paul Morrow from Montgomery, Alabama. A U.S. Army veteran, Morrow launched a successful contracting business and is building a new concrete plant in an Opportunity Zone. The plant will help support many new F-35 jets stationed in the region.


6. The victim of criminal alien violence

The president invited Jody Jones from Farmersville, Calif. A criminal alien killed his brother, Roky Jones, on December 17, 2018. The illegal immigrant had previously been arrested for violent crimes and had twice been deported. Arrested for the sixth time in December 2018, the alien was released from jail due to California’s sanctuary state policy. According to the White House, “A few days later, he went on a 24-hour ‘reign of terror,’ injuring several people, robbing a gas station, leading law enforcement on a high-speed chase, and killing 51-year old Rocky, who was known as a kind and gentle soul. Rocky leaves behind a precious daughter and 4 brothers.”

7. The Border Patrol agent

The president invited U.S. Border Patrol Deputy Chief Raul Ortiz from Del Rio, Texas. An Army veteran who joined the Border Patrol in 1991, Ortiz became chief patrol agent for his sector in 2019. He oversaw all Border Patrol operations in 41 Texas counties, including 210 miles of border between the U.S. and Mexico. He was recently promoted to Deputy Chief, becoming the second in command for the Border Patrol.

8. The Venezuelan ex-pat

Trump also invited Ivan Simonovis, the former chief of police in Venezuela’s capital city, Caracas. He was imprisoned in 2004 for protecting protesters and was held in captivity for nearly 15 years by the regimes of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro. He escaped in 2019 and came to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where immigration agents welcomed him into the U.S.


9. Rush Limbaugh

Radio personality Rush Limbaugh speaks before introducing President Donald Trump at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

This man needs no introduction. The president invited radio host and conservative giant Rush Limbaugh to the State of the Union one day after Rush came forward with a devastating cancer diagnosis.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.




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