Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield’s invitation to President Donald Trump to hold the State of the Union speech in Lansing landed him on Fox News on Monday. The Michigan Advance noted that the Levering Republican’s letter, which he tweeted on Jan. 18, seemed designed to get national attention.
Chatfield appeared on “Fox and Friends,” the popular conservative news and entertainment program — and a favorite of Trump’s. The speaker discussed his invitation to Trump last week to hold the annual speech in the Michigan House after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) canceled it due to “security concerns” stemming from the ongoing partial government shutdown.
“I think with the dysfunction we’re seeing in Washington politics and the partisan gridlock, I think it’s important that the American people hear from their commander-in-chief,” Chatfield said, adding that he believes his olive branches to Democrats in Michigan can serve as an example for the nation’s Capitol.
“In Michigan, we have divided government, but at the same time, even as a Republican Speaker, I have found that the success of our Democratic governor [Gretchen Whitmer] means the success of the state of Michigan and I’m going to fight every day for that,” he said.
Chatfield told Fox News that he was asked by the White House to submit a formal invitation and that it is “under consideration and I will hear back shortly.”
Trump has received a similar invitation to give the speech in North Carolina.
In his role as speaker, Chatfield acknowledged that he had not sought out permission from other members of the House.He said that given Trump’s polarizing nature, there had been a “certain amount of opposition.”
Some Democrats have dismissed Chatfield’s letter as a political stunt, with House Minority Leader Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills) calling it another example of “partisan gamesmanship.”
Historians the Advance spoke with last week disagree over whether Trump delivering his speech — which is mandated by the Constitution, although no format or venue is specified — would actually constitute a State of the Union address.