Speaker: Michigan out of running for Trump State of the Union

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
President Donald Trump speaks about the partial government shutdown, immigration and border security in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, in Washington, Jan. 19, 2019.

President Donald Trump will not be making a State of the Union address from Michigan's Capitol, state House Speaker Lee Chatfield said Tuesday. 

The Levering Republican, who on Friday invited Trump to deliver the annual speech in Lansing, tweeted and posted on Facebook that the president told him in a Tuesday morning call that he had "other plans" for the annual address. 

"...but as we discussed, I look forward to hosting you in Michigan again soon. Keep up the great work!" Chatfield said in the tweet. 

Chatfield on Friday invited Trump to deliver his address at the state Capitol after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, requested a delay of the speech for alleged security concerns during the partial federal government shutdown.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen dismissed the concerns, noting the Secret Service and the Homeland Security Department were “fully prepared.”

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Trump was moving forward with plans to deliver the address in the U.S. House by asking the House sergeant at arms to schedule a walk through in anticipation of the Jan. 29 speech.

A White House spokesman also told Fox News that the White House is exploring other alternatives. Fox News reported the options included sites outside of Washington, D.C.

The president can't give the State of the Union speech in the U.S. House unless Pelosi agrees to it. The speaker's office on Tuesday hadn't issued a statement about the walk through request.

North Carolina’s state House Speaker Tim Moore on Friday extended an invitation to Trump similar to Chatfield's and received a call of thanks from the president Monday evening, according to the Associated Press.

New Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield R-Levering, speaks to the media after the opening ceremonies.

In 2016, Trump became the first Republican since George H.W. Bush to win Michigan, pulling out a 10,704-vote victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton. The president's victory guaranteed the state will be a major focus in the 2020 campaign.

Since an official State of the Union address must be scheduled through a joint resolution of the U.S. House and Senate, experts said a Michigan address would be “high profile” but not an actual State of the Union address.

Though the president could also submit his update by writing alone, the speech is an important tradition for the country, said Aaron Kall, director of debate at University of Michigan. 

The address takes on added meaning for Trump, whose history as a business man and entertainer causes him to prize crowd sizes, ratings and maximum reach, Kall said. The power dynamic between the president and Pelosi only serves to heighten that determination to reach the full 50 million people expected to tune in Jan. 29. 

"The only way that he’s going to get that audience is if it’s a State of the Union address," Kall said. 

In his invitation to the president, Chatfield echoed his calls from earlier this year for cooperation among Republican and Democrats in Michigan, noting that the success of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer meant success for the state.

"Washington, D.C., may be bogged down in partisan politics, but Michigan is different," Chatfield wrote in his letter.

The invite was given a boost on social media by Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniels, a native Michiganian, and former U.S. Senate candidate John James.

The Michigan Democratic Party called the invitation a “gimmick” and called on Chatfield to demand Trump “stop his temper tantrum and end his shutdown.”

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, said having Trump give his address in Michigan would have been a mistake.

“I think it’s just political rhetoric more than anything else. It’s really clear that the State of the Union is the president reporting to Congress on the state of the union," he said.

"If he wants to give a political speech, he can and does go anywhere in the country, but that doesn’t make it a State of the Union. A State of the Union is the president delivering an address to Congress.”

Kildee noted Pelosi didn’t cancel the State of the Union speech but asked Trump to postpone it as long as the federal government remains partially shut down.

“I don’t think anyone would be moved to open up government just for the State of the Union,” Kildee said. “It’s a bigger issue than that.”

Trump last visited Michigan was in April 2018, when he promised to “fix” the aging Soo Locks after discussing the project with three Michigan Republican lawmakers. In October, the president signed a bill authorizing $922 million to build a new lock, but construction can't start until Congress appropriates the money.


(517) 371-3661