Katie Britt denies misleading voters in Biden State of the Union rebuttal

11 March, 2024
Katie Britt denies misleading voters in Biden State of the Union rebuttal
Republican Katie Britt has defended her use of an account from a sex trafficking victim to attack President Joe Biden's State of the Union address.

In a televised response, she used the story to attack his border policies, despite the case taking place in Mexico years before Mr Biden took office. Fact-checkers pointed out inaccuracies in the Alabama senator's comparison.

Senator Katie Britt defended using a sex trafficking victim's story to criticize President Biden's border policies. Fact-checkers disputed her claims. Despite criticism, she stood by her remarks.

But in a Fox News interview on Sunday, Ms Britt insisted she had not misled voters with her claims.

In her response to the president's speech, the Republican invoked the story of a woman who was raped thousands of times in a sex trafficking operation run by drug cartels, starting from when she was 12 years old. Her communications director told The Washington Post that the anecdote was about Karla Jacinto Romero.

Ms Romero has spoken publicly about her abuse in the past, but said it happened in her home country of Mexico from 2004 to 2008 - when Republican George W Bush was US president. "We wouldn't be OK with this happening in a third-world country. This is the United States of America, and it's past time we start acting like it," Ms Britt said in the Thursday night speech televised from her kitchen.

Asked on Sunday by Fox News host Shannon Bream if she meant to "give the impression that this horrible story happened on President Biden's watch", the senator replied "no".

Ms Britt, the youngest woman representing the Republicans in the Senate, instead insisted that she was speaking about actions Mr Biden has allegedly taken to weaken border security.

She went on to say that "human trafficking has gone up under President Biden".

"It's disgusting to try to silence... the story of what it is like to be sex-trafficked," she added. "This is a story of what is happening now at an astronomical rate, and we have to bring attention to it."

Sen Britt has faced broader criticism for her State of the Union response, which is traditionally delivered by rising stars within the opposition party.

Some Republicans took issue with the unconventional setting - her kitchen table in Montgomery - for a speech meant to counter presidential remarks delivered from the Capitol.

Alyssa Farah Griffin, a former Trump White House communications adviser, posted on X: "I do not understand the decision to put her in a KITCHEN for one of the most important speeches she's ever given."

Other Republicans criticised her "overcoached" delivery, which Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson skewered in a scathing skit on Saturday Night Live, a program popular with young viewers.

Referencing the sex-trafficking story, Ms Johansson said: "Rest assured, every detail about it is real, except the year, where it took place and who was president when it happened."

After the rebuttal speech on Thursday evening, Republican president frontrunner Donald Trump praised Ms Britt, writing on social media: "Her conversation on Migrant Crime was powerful and insightful. Great job Katie!"
Source: www.bbc.com
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