For once, there's legitimate excitement about the response speech that follows a president's State of The Union (SOTU) address. Tomorrow night's Republican rebuttal to President Obama's first SOTU of his second term will be delivered by Marco "I'm not a Savior" Rubio.
The freshman Senator from Florida has reportedly been studying tapes of past SOTU responses, specifically Bobby Jindal's memorable 2009 turn, so as not to repeat what made those speeches so horrible.
Of course, part of the problem lies in the fact that while the president is talking to a live audience of members of Congress, Supreme Court justices (some of them anyway) and members of the public invited to a once in a lifetime event, the speaker from the out of power party is usually sequestered in an empty room devoid of anything but set dressing and a teleprompter.
But nobody expects Rubio to be dull Tuesday night.
Following Rubio on we hope at least one cable network will be the Tea Party response, brought to you by none other than Rand Paul. The Kentucky Senator explained to CNN's Candy Crowley why there's a need for such a response:
CROWLEY: Well, is that what you intend to do, to chastise the Republican establishment?
PAUL: No, but I think really there are some things that I will emphasize maybe Marco doesn't.
CROWLEY: Like what?
PAUL: Doesn't mean that we necessarily disagree.
I don't know. I haven't heard his speech yet. But I would say that there are things that I will talk about — you know, the president likes to talk about a balanced approach for things. We'll talk, for example, about a balanced budget and how that would be good for the economy. The president likes to say everybody needs to pay their fair share, which means he wants to raise taxes. I'll talk about the Republican message which is we believe you stimulate the economy by reducing taxes, not revenue neutral, I mean really reducing taxes, cutting corporate tax in half, cutting the personal income tax, and the fact that you actually sometimes bring in more revenue when you cut tax rates.
CROWLEY: Well, as you know, you are joined by fellow Republicans, some of whom are not particularly associated with the Tea Party in your quest for what they call real cuts and not just cuts in the growth. I want to get back to Senator Rubio, again because you're both delivering these responses to the president. He was on the cover of Time magazine as the new face of the Republican Party. He has Tea Party support.
I wonder when you look at that and you look at the Republican Party, do you and he represent different parts of the Republican Party? Are you therefore rivals? Who is the face of the Republican Party right now?
PAUL: I don't think anybody gets to choose who is the face is or say you or someone else is the face. I think we do the best to promote what we believe in. One of the things I have talked a lot about that there haven't been many other Republicans talking about is that we shouldn't send foreign aid or money to people who are burning our flag and chanting death to America. So I think I do represent a wing of the Republican Party who doesn't want to send good money after bad to Egypt, or to several of these countries. I would put strings on the money that goes to Pakistan. I would say to Pakistan, you don't get more money until you release the doctor who helped us get bin Laden.
So there are things that distinguish a lot of different Republicans. It doesn't make them bad, or me right or them wrong, what it means is that there is a Tea Party wing that is interested in not sending money to people who are not acting like our allies. CROWLEY: Does it also give aid and comfort to Democrats who see what is clearly a split in the Republican Party, so much so that it requires two responses to the State of the Union?
PAUL: You know, I think to me I see it as an extra response, I don't see it necessarily divisive. You know I won't say anything on there that necessarily is like Marco Rubio is wrong. You know, I don't always agree, but the thing is this isn't about he and I, this is about the Tea Party, which is a grassroots movement, a real movement with millions of Americans who are still concerned about some of the deal making that goes on in Washington, they're still concerned about the fact that we are borrowing $50,000 a second.
Rand Paul's Tea Party response will the third in the short tenure of the conservative political movement. In 2011 Minnesota Republican Michele Bachmann gave the response. (Unfortunately for her, the speech is best remembered for Bachmann's delivering it into the wrong camera.) Last year Herman Cain took the honors, though most people don't remember it.
It's not yet known if any of the cable networks will air Paul's address, though it can be seen on the Tea Party website.