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

    I am still wondering why the GOP gets to respond twice to the SOTU address. Or, was that the point of creating the TEA Party?

    January 23, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  2. O'drama ya Mama

    They already have a standard response sheet for all of Obama's speeches. They write it out like "madlibs" so they can fill in the blank spots at the last second with specific talking points from his speech.

    January 23, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  3. Silence DoGood

    @smith
    Liberals pretend they are all about womens rights until they meet a woman that is not a liberal. Then the true side of liberalism comes out. Bigotry.
    ------
    We don't tell them they are sinners like conservatives do.
    We don't tell them who to marry or not like conservatives do.
    We don't tell them their private lives and bodies are property of the state to be regulated like conservatives do.
    We don't tell them to "submit to their husbands" like conservatives do.
    We don't tell them rape is God's will like conservatives do.
    We don't tell single moms trying to scrape out a living they are lazy like conservatives do.

    You really miss that the GOP is putting her up only to distract from the horrible GOP conduct towards women?
    I have some swampland you might be interested in buying.

    January 23, 2014 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  4. tom l

    @Silence,

    "you really miss that the GOP is putting her up only to distract..."

    You are doing exactly what you are accusing the repubs of.

    January 23, 2014 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  5. Jonathon Powelly

    Why do the even bother no one listens.

    January 23, 2014 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  6. IA

    Silence DoGood...So much BS. Where do you come up with this stuff? I know alot of consevatives that would never think this way or ever have. Yet this is your take on the situation and you paint us all with the same brush. Time to grow up.

    January 23, 2014 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    "LOL. This coming from the man who says that almost every person that criticizes the president is because they can't stand seeing.....well, you know the rest."

    Not true. I always attack the substance first. It's when I'm stuck pointing out just how substanceless the criticism was...how knee-jerk, baseless, mindless and rote...that I'm left trying to find some other explanation. At which point we can turn to all the concrete evidence that the GOP/Teatrolls' 6 year tantrum has been largely driven by demographic shifts and their impending demographic Armageddon....and the big, black, walking, talking reminder of the GOP/Teatrolls demographic woes who sits in the Oval Office.

    January 23, 2014 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  8. Silence DoGood

    @O'drama ya Mama
    They already have a standard response sheet for all of Obama's speeches. They write it out like "madlibs" so they can fill in the blank spots at the last second with specific talking points from his speech.
    ---------
    Example:
    Obama looks strong: He is a dictator and controls everything.
    Obama looks weak: He is doing nothing and controls nothing.

    January 23, 2014 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  9. Lynda/Minnesota

    "And both were basically disowned by the repubs. You shouldn't leave that part out."

    And added to by others still in (or running for office). Do a bit of research on your party membership before you try your appeasement talking points.

    January 23, 2014 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  10. ThinkAgain

    Here we go again. The GOP thinks that since Hilary is a threat, all they need to do is throw woman out there in front and people will vote for them.

    New flash: all of your policies are proven failures; that's why no one wants to vote for you.

    January 23, 2014 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  11. LacrosseMom

    I have nothing against this woman, I just would love to ask her why she is involved with the GOP when they have such disdain for women?

    January 23, 2014 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  12. ThinkAgain - If you want Congress to actually do something FOR the American people, vote OUT the Repub/tea bag majority

    "Cathy McMorris Rodgers" .... curious, I thought repubs didn't like uppity women who kept their maiden name a la HRC ... ? You know, it's a sign that they aren't really submitting to their husbands and all that ...

    January 23, 2014 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  13. ThinkAgain - If you want Congress to actually do something FOR the American people, vote OUT the Repub/tea bag majority

    "But hey, "rebut" the POTUS's SOTU address by having a woman spout all of the ideology and policies the GOP/Teatrolls support that are damaging to women and poof...it's all the sudden just fine and women will flock to the GOP/Teatrolls...right?"

    Sure, kinda like hiring Michael Steele as the GOP chairman after President Obama was elected for the first time to prove they aren't hellbent on fanning racism.

    The GOP assumes everyone is as dumb as their base, dontcha know ...

    January 23, 2014 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  14. Wake up People!

    Once again they are trotting out a woman for show. Where's their favorite, Caribou Barbie? Oh I forgot, that nitwit can barely string a sentence together, let alone a speech. Maybe if she had to read Highlights.....

    January 23, 2014 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  15. Jesse

    Why bother no one listens.
    Well no one listens to Obama in his administration apparently

    January 23, 2014 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  16. a kickin donkey

    Dems would be smart to hold her responsible for Republican policies instead of being distracted by her femininity . Let's hear what she says about Lillie Ledbetter or minimum wage or healthcare for the uninsured. Republican policies will still be lacking even if their defender is Cathy McMorris Rogers.

    January 23, 2014 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  17. The right wing have lost their damned minds

    Since she doesn't speak for most women in America..Her speech is going to be the same blah blah blah and waa waa waa they have been spouting for years...I'll strain myself to get a listen but, I know with their playbook it is not going to be anything new.

    January 23, 2014 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  18. Malory Archer

    tom l
    @Silence,
    ""Missouri GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin referred to "legitimate rape" and Richard Mourdock in Indiana suggested rape was "something God intended to happen."
    ====

    And both were basically disowned by the repubs. You shouldn't leave that part out.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    They were disowned because they lost to their democratic opponents in their respective races in 2012. Had they won they would be heros to the right.

    January 23, 2014 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  19. chucky1169469

    I already know how this is gonna play out. The right will applaud the crap out of her, they will call her a breath of fresh air and put her in the spotlight as the GOP presidential candidate against Hillary Clinton. She'll do good in the beginning, then she'll say something stupid, she'll deny she said it....the video of her saying it will surface, then she'll drop out of the race.

    January 23, 2014 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  20. RonL

    I REALLY wonder how a women can be supportive of a political organization that pushes for a smaller less intrusive government UNTIL 30 seconds after you become pregnant. From that moment own they want to control your decision making, they want to FORCE you to take ultrasounds, they want to make it extremely difficult to have an abortion if you so choose. Many of the men in the party are SO INSULTING toward women its amazing. If you doubt me, listen to what Mr. Huckabee just recently said about women and birth control pills.

    January 23, 2014 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  21. chrissy

    Lol @ Kelby i totally agree. No common sense required to belong to the biggest bunch of clowns (otherwise known as Congress) in US history! And @ smith, they may as all give birth while in office as they've done little else! They are largest batch of high end welfare recipients this country has ever had the misfortune to have!

    January 23, 2014 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  22. Name

    Yadda yadda yadda. Won't believe it until I see it.

    January 23, 2014 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  23. Whatever

    A thriving middle class? Not until they drop REAGANomics.

    January 23, 2014 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  24. Just

    How many lies in the state of the union speech? Anyone have a pool started yet?

    January 23, 2014 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  25. YoonYoungJo

    See. The differences between democrats and republicans are not as different as people think. It's about finding middle ground with the understanding no one will be completely happy. But no one will be completely disappointed either. No more party bickering. And more getting back to making America #1 by a wife margin again. Republicans need to understand te trickle down effect does not work and the masses aren't buying it. Democrats need to understand business do need some protection and elbow room. There is a happy medium.

    January 23, 2014 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
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