The Brookline Democrat gave his speech from the automotive shop of Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School in Fall River. Without mentioning Trump by name, Kennedy slammed the first year of his administration.
“Many have spent the past year anxious, angry, afraid,’’ Kennedy said. “We all feel the fault lines of a fractured country.’’
The response from Kennedy’s colleagues in the Democratic Party, in which he is seen as a rising star, were enthusiastic. Former vice president Joe Biden, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, and former congressman John Dingell all tweeted out praise.
Grateful to hear @RepJoeKennedy’s encouraging words tonight. Thank you for making clear that the will of the American people is stronger than anything this President can or will do to divide us. Reminded me of the hope I felt hearing your grandfather and great-uncles speak. #SOTU— John Dingell (@JohnDingell) January 31, 2018
The choice of Kennedy to deliver the Democrats’ main response drew criticism from some progressives and commentators, who were disappointed a white man with deep establishment ties was picked.
This is a good speech, delivered well. But I am totally befuddled by a party that looks around at this country, right now, and decides its best rebuttal to Donald Trump comes from the white male scion of America's oldest dynasty.— Rebecca Traister (@rtraister) January 31, 2018
But MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews found something praiseworthy in Kennedy’s family ties, comparing Kennedy favorably to his grandfather, Robert F. Kennedy.
The speech also drew praise from Kennedy’s fellow Massachusetts politicians
Kennedy himself spent the morning talking about his speech, including an appearance on MSNBC on CNN, in which he elaborated on his remarks about bullies in politics.