Three term Massachusetts congressman Joe Kennedy III delivered one of five Democratic responses to President Trump's State of the Union address Tuesday evening. Kennedy accused Trump of dividing the country and highlighted several Democratic goals during what many have called a tumultuous year of bitter partisanship in Washington D.C.
Speaking from Fall River, Massachusetts, the great-nephew of former President John F. Kennedy spoke of "A Better Deal" for all Americans, highlighting progressive demands popular with the Democratic base such as higher minimum wages, paid leave, and a deal for Dreamers.
"It would be easy to dismiss the past year as chaos. Partisanship. Politics. But it's far bigger than that," he said. "This administration isn't just targeting the laws that protect us, they are targeting the very idea that we are all worthy of protection."
Kennedy also praised protesters who went out last weekend for the second Women's March, in which hundreds of thousands demonstrated against the president and his policies.
You proudly marched together last weekend – thousands deep -- in the streets of Las Vegas and Philadelphia and Nashville. You sat high atop your mom’s shoulders and held a sign that read: “Build a wall and my generation will tear it down.”
But it was Kennedy's lines about "bullies" that had people talking. At one point, the congressman grows pointed about how "bullies" can occasionally get a hit in.
"Bullies may land a punch. They may leave a mark. But they have never, not once in the history of our United States, managed to match the strength and spirit of a people united in defense of their future.”
The legal status of more than 700,000 people brought to this country while children, are still up in the air after a Democratic-led shutdown resulted in a deal that would hopefully try to bridge the gap between parties on immigration. Switching to Spanish, Kennedy delivered a message especially for the Dreamers watching.
“And to all the Dreamers watching tonight, let me be clear: Ustedes son parte de nuestra historia. Vamos a luchar por ustedes y no nos vamos alejar.”
Translated: "You are part of our story. We will fight for you and we will not walk away.
Speaking in front of a group of supporters at the Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School in Fall River, Mass, the 37-year-old congressman became the first Massachusetts lawmaker to deliver a a State of Union response since 1985. He currently sits on the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce and has long been an advocate for immigration and LGBTQ issues.
Kennedy was born and raised near Boston in the Brighton area along with his twin brother Matthew Kennedy. He went on to earn his undergraduate degree from Stanford and his law degree from Harvard Law School. He was an athlete in college, playing lacrosse and served in the Peace Corp for two years in the Dominican Republic.
Photo: Getty Images