Democratic Response: America Headed in ''Wrong Direction''

By Randy Hall | July 7, 2008 | 8:20 PM EDT

( - America is going in the wrong direction, claimed Gary Locke, governor of Washington state, during the Democratic response to President Bush's State of the Union address Tuesday night.

The first Asian-American governor, Locke began by stating that he and his party support Bush in the war against terror and how he has handled the threat in Iraq - so far.

He complimented the president for "working with Congress, working with the United Nations, insisting on strong and unfettered inspections." However, Locke asserted that America "needs allies today in 2003, just as much as we needed them in Desert Storm... We urge President Bush to stay this course, for we are far stronger when we stand with other nations than when we stand alone."

Locke commented that "to be strong abroad, we need to be strong at home," and he stated that "in too many ways, our country is headed in the wrong direction." The governor then promoted the "positive, specific plan" put forward by his party "to turn our nation around.

"We Democrats have a plan to restore prosperity so the United States once again becomes the great job engine it was in the 1990s." he continued. After accusing the GOP of practicing "upside-down economics" that favor the rich, Locke said that "every American should get a tax cut" and called for increased spending on homeland security, education and health care.

Turning his attention to the environment and energy, the Democratic spokesman stated that "Our nation should lead global efforts to promote environmental responsibility, not shun them. And instead of opening up the Alaskan wilderness to oil drilling, we should be committed to a national policy to reduce our dependence on oil by promoting American technology and sustainability."

Locke admitted that "the Republican Party now controls the executive branch and both houses of Congress," but he said that he and his fellow Democrats "will hold the administration and congressional leaders accountable. We will work to create jobs and strengthen homeland security. We will fight to protect a woman's right to choose, and we will fight for affirmative action, equal opportunity and diversity in our schools and our workplaces. Above all, we will demand that this government advance our common purpose and not pander to narrow special interests."

Finally, Locke stated that "these are challenging times," but he concluded by declaring that "if we work together, and make the right choices, we will become a stronger, more united and more prosperous nation."

Locke's selection to represent the party this year reflected the growing power of Democratic governors. While congressional Democrats gave ground, governors picked up four seats, for a total of 24. Still, many Republicans stated that the opposition party could have picked a better spokesman, since Locke is facing financial difficulty and diminishing popularity in the state he governs.

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