GOP congressional leaders pick top ranking woman to deliver State of the Union response
January 23rd, 2014
04:37 PM ET
9 months ago

GOP congressional leaders pick top ranking woman to deliver State of the Union response

Washington (CNN) – Emphasizing her family's story, Republican congressional leaders tapped Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the fourth highest House GOP leader and highest ranking woman, to deliver the response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address next Tuesday.

McMorris Rodgers is serving in her fifth term representing the district that runs along the eastern side of Washington State and delivered her third child in November, becoming the only member of Congress to give birth three times while in office.

"Through the lens of her family's experiences, Cathy will share our vision for a better America built on a thriving middle class, guided by a fierce belief in life and liberty, and grounded in greater trust between citizens and their government," House Speaker John Boehner said in a written statement.

The selection of the highest ranking female Republican in the House comes as the party is working to narrow a significant gender gap. President Obama defeated 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney by double digits among female voters.

Boehner and other top Republican leaders have acknowledged that the party needs to do a better job addressing the concerns of women. Some high profile gaffes from GOP Senate candidates in 2012 caused blowback among female voters. Missouri GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin referred to "legitimate rape" and Richard Mourdock in Indiana suggested rape was "something God intended to happen." Both red-state candidates were favored to win but lost badly.

Last month Boehner admitted, "Some of our members just aren't as sensitive as they ought to be."

The House GOP campaign arm is working with male candidates to improve their messaging to women this election cycle.

Republican leaders released a video showing McMorris Rodgers getting her kids ready in the morning, discussing working in her father's family owned agriculture business and touting that she was the first child in her family to graduate from college.

But the real focus in McMorris Rodgers' story is her family. Her son Cole was born in 2007, and has Down syndrome. Her daughter Grace arrived in December 2010, while the Washington State Congresswoman served as vice chair of the House GOP Conference, marking the first time a member of House leadership delivered a baby. Her second daughter, Brynn Catherine, arrived in late November. She is married to Brian Rodgers, who is a retired Navy officer.

Addressing the camera in the short biographical video clip, McMorris Rodgers says her son's diagnosis with Down's syndrome has made her "a better legislator and a better person" and said her focus in Congress is to make sure the next generation has as many or more opportunities than she does.

As the chair of the House Republican conference, McMorris Rodgers is tasked with communicating the public message for House GOP members. Since taking over the position last January she has made a major push for her colleagues to make Twitter and Facebook a big part of their communications strategies.

soundoff (73 Responses)
  1. Paul

    Next thing you know, republicans wii have a poor person (maybe someone on food stamps) give their rebuttal. Then they can say, "see, we are not against helping the poor"! Hey, republicans, actions speak louder than words!!!!!

    January 23, 2014 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  2. connie Sue

    Thank goodness he doesn't run!

    January 24, 2014 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  3. airjackie

    It is sad to see Conservative female lawmakers defend the degrading insulting attacks on women and push to end women's right. Listening to lawmakers say Rape is God's Blessings when even Rep. Rogers has two daughters who need protection from their parents. As she supports and end to birth control which has save women's lives and many of them Conservative women too. Rep. Rogers even had two children while working in Congress and wow got the best health care she feels Americans should not have. At lease Female Conservative lawmakers will learn if their insane party succeeds at repealing women's rights an civil rights the seats in Congress/Senate will be filled by all white men an Rep. Rogers will be sent home to care for her husband and stay in her place. Women and minorities are just used for votes and then dismissed. Rep. Rogers smiles as her fellow lawmakers agree women are not qualified to hold a man's job. But he will do what she is told and smile until she is sent home.

    January 24, 2014 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  4. Alex peterson

    Whatever she says won't counteract Huckabee's recent nonsense about women's libidos, or Sen. Richard H. “Dick” Black's comment that "it isn't rape if she is wearing a night dress" or Rep. Steve Pierce (NM) saying women should submit to their husbands, not to mention TN Senator Campfield's ignorant statements about aids or Susanne Atnaurs idiotic comments about God making tornados to punish gays…..

    January 24, 2014 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  5. PharmGrl

    If the GOP manages to muzzle the nuts on the religious right that handed Obama the White House in 2012, Democrats cannot possibly survive the American electorate's discovery of what was really in Nancy's bill.
    Biggest Bait and Switch in the History of the Planet.

    January 24, 2014 02:18 am at 2:18 am |
  6. cbp

    Ms. McMorris Rogers is a very capable woman who has served admirably. Don;t always agree with her but she is articulate, bright, and informed. It is time for the Republicans to choose speakers who have a more balanced outlook on government.

    January 24, 2014 02:27 am at 2:27 am |
  7. Winston Smith

    They'd do better if they would do one thing. Instead of searching for every little nit-picky thing to disagree on and work against, pick the positives of the state of the union address and work toward those issues. Maybe the people that voted the adults, with childlike tenancy disorder, into office could finally get something out of their efforts of going to the voting booth. It's just a thought.

    January 24, 2014 03:37 am at 3:37 am |
  8. Name JAMES KITELU

    Don't deny someone her right althouh in office to have a family she thinks can maintain

    January 24, 2014 04:28 am at 4:28 am |
  9. cmml

    The media has brain washed the lemmings of America to believe that women are anti GOP and women love Democrats. It makes me laugh.

    The only reason that Obama won the woman's vote was because black women voters came out in droves and voted at a 92% rate for Obama. Hispanic women also tilted towards Obama, but white women voted overwhelmingly for Romney.

    Is there really anything Republicans can do to win the black vote? Given that blacks have supported democrats at a rate of about 4-1 since Reagan – probably not.

    Republicans should focus on the Hispanic vote, not the women's vote – as that is the demographic they need to sway in order to regain the White House.

    January 24, 2014 04:44 am at 4:44 am |
  10. Charles

    I find it amazing any women are left in the GOP. I guess you can find one or two who drink the coolaide. I am surprise her husband lets her work. How can she be a Republican be of birthing age and not be pregnant? How many children does she have, if she doesn't believe in birth control or abortion she must have at least five. if not she must be a RINO!

    January 24, 2014 05:31 am at 5:31 am |
  11. Tony in Stl

    I don't think the GOTP should get a response. They simply have nothing to say. They've done nothing. And if we do want their opinion, we'll vote them in, ...which I highly doubt will happen. Except in voting districts that they "steal", of course.

    January 24, 2014 05:34 am at 5:34 am |
  12. mickinmd

    ""...grounded in greater trust between citizens and their government," House Speaker John Boehner said"

    Does ANYONE doubt John Boehner is the Eddie Haskel of Congress?

    January 24, 2014 05:35 am at 5:35 am |
  13. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Ole Huckabee surely set her up didn't he? She has already written her response before she even saw the President speak. Stick to the Guns Over People tea potty talking points.

    January 24, 2014 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  14. David

    I'm sure the liberal can't wait to pounce on her-for having THREE children. How can she be a voice for women if she refuses to have an abortion?

    January 24, 2014 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  15. just basking

    Right, the real problem is you need to sensor your speech. The ideology is perfect, so now you have to figure out how to convince them to see things your way, good luck. Your problem is your ideology, but you refuse to change, and inevitably will be left behind. You just can't stop progress, but you can be voted out for not growing as a party. The gop are trying to control our society with money, by corrupting our politicians, all we can do is vote them out.

    January 24, 2014 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  16. julie

    .......she is going to tell us women how to curb our libdo with mr. sugar.....

    January 24, 2014 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  17. julie

    .....or is that uncle sugar...either way can't wait till she enlightens us..

    January 24, 2014 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  18. just basking

    Looks like their outreach to women is going as well as their outreach to immigrants, minorities, poor, working class, hungry children, those who want an education . So basically they want your vote, but won't go any further than lying to you to get it. But their ideology and policy platform does garner support from the Koch brothers.

    January 24, 2014 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  19. NameFrank Deery

    I hope Rep McMorris Rodgers focuses on the
    problems Obama's health care plan is causing middle class Americans. Obama, no doubt, will try to spin it as a success. It isn't,
    And the year is young.

    January 24, 2014 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  20. just basking

    Like the shell ex president, making 8 figure salary, and complains that things aren't fair, sound familiar?

    January 24, 2014 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  21. nclaw441

    As usual, no substantive response to Ms. Rodgers' positions, all personal attack.

    January 24, 2014 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  22. TONE

    The Gop is dilusional to think that the American people is not capable of looking straight through these simple political maneuvers they are making. Having a woman respond does not take away from the fact that most of everything they legislate is geared towards limiting the rights of women.

    January 24, 2014 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  23. Terry B

    Only a complete moron would believe that the war on women is not real. Thus, they are trying to use a female to debunk the truth that the GOP truly is an anti women's rights party. As long as the GOP continues their anti woman policies the presidency should be safe from the right wing lunatics that permeate the republican party.

    January 24, 2014 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
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