Story by the Associated Press; curated and contributed to by Jason Howerton
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee was the face of the national tea party Tuesday night, delivering the movement's response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech.
Lee pinned the widening wealth gap on the president's policies and tout the ideas of a new generation of leaders including himself and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
"Americans know in their hearts that something is wrong. Much of what is wrong relates to the sense that the `American Dream' is falling out of reach for far too many of us," Lee said in his prepared remarks. "We are facing an inequality crisis - one to which the president has paid lip-service, but seems uninterested in truly confronting or correcting."
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) (L) and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) (R) speak to members of the media after a vote on the Senate floor September 27, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The Senate has passed a continuing resolution 54-44 to fund the government through November 15 with the exclusion of defunding the Obama care in which the provision was passed in the House. Credit: Getty Images
At various points in his response, Lee kindly mentioned fellow Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
Obama plans to use the State of the Union to announce executive actions to raise the minimum wage for new federal contracts, help the long-term unemployed find work and expand job-training programs.
Lee, an attorney who is halfway through his first term, was chosen by Tea Party Express because he is a recognized leader who is popular among the GOP base because of the message he delivers about improving the economy and reducing the size, cost and intrusiveness of the federal government, said Sal Russo, co-founder of the organization. Tea Party Express is a national group representing the movement.
Watch the entire response below:
"People who have been willing to stand up and say, `Stop,' like Mike Lee, have drawn a great deal of support," Russo said.
In previous years, the speech has been delivered by Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.; former presidential candidate Herman Cain; and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.