The curse of the State of the Union response

Updated 7:30 PM ET, Mon January 29, 2018

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Story highlights

  • Previous responding speakers include several failed presidential candidates
  • Massachusetts Rep. Joseph Kennedy III is giving this year's rebuttal to Trump

Washington (CNN)Massachusetts Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, a potential rising star in the Democratic Party, will get a huge platform and a plum political assignment when he delivers the response to President Donald Trump's first State of the Union address on Tuesday.

It's a role that brings with it high expectations and, for a few years, seemed to leave young politicians with a bit of bad luck.
Long dubbed the "curse" of the State of the Union response, lawmakers tasked with following the grandiose speech from the President have struggled to counter with the same gravitas, and some seem to have jinxed their own political aspirations down the road.
Four of them ran for national office just in the 2016 election but came up empty.
However, in more immediate memory, Cathy McMorris Rodgers (2014) still holds her leadership slot in the House, Joni Ernst (2015) holds her Senate seat and Nikki Haley (2016) now serves as US ambassador to the United Nations. Paul Ryan (2011) followed his response with failure on the national stage but has since rebounded nicely. Two responders — Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton — did eventually give their own State of the Union addresses as president.
But here are 10 responders from recent history who hit at least some bad luck after their major addresses.

1. Sen. Marco Rubio (2013)

Sen. Marco Rubio takes a sip of water during his Republican response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address in 2013.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida gave the Republican rebuttal to the State of the Union address in 2013 after his election to the Senate in 2010. He launched a bid for the White House in 2016, withdrawing from the campaign after losing his home state of Florida that March to sitting President Donald Trump. Consolation prize: After dropping out of the White House race he ran for and got to keep his Senate seat.

2. Rep. Paul Ryan (2011)

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., delivers the GOP response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address in 2011.
A then-rising star in GOP politics, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, then the new chair of the House budget panel, was selected to give the State of the Union response in 2011. The next year, when presidential nominee Mitt Romney chose him as his running mate, Ryan lost the vice presidential race. He has rebounded from his defeat, now serving as speaker of the House.

3. Gov. Bob McDonnell (2010)

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a former president of the Republican Governors Association, had a prime-time speaking slot at last year's Republican National Convention.
    The Virginia governor gave the GOP State of the Union response just days after being sworn into office in Virginia, but McDonnell's post-office life has been plagued by scandal. He and his wife were indicted on corruption charges in 2014 and convicted later that year of receiving, gifts, money and loans from a company in exchange for political favors. The Supreme Court vacated his conviction in 2016.

    4. Gov. Bobby Jindal (2009)

    In this image made from video, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal delivers from Baton Rouge, La. the Republican Party's official response to President Barack Obama's address to a joint session of Congress.
    Gov. Bobby Jindal, a young Indian-American governor in Louisiana, was also seen as a rising star in the Republican Party. But his State of the Union rebuttal was criticized by those on both sides of the aisle. He ran for president in 2016, ending his campaign before reaching the Iowa caucuses after frequently hitting 1% or lower in primary polling.

    5. Sen. Jim Webb (2007)

    jim webb democratic debate black lives matter 28_00002112
    Democratic Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia gave the 2007 response to the State of the Union address after his election in 2006. But after that, he ruled himself out of Obama's vice presidential speculation in 2008, didn't run for re-election in 2012 and flopped in a bid for the White House in 2016 after memorably talking onstage at a presidential debate about killing an enemy soldier.

    6. Gov. Tim Kaine (2006)

    Tim Kaine concession speech Hillary sot ath_00000724
    Tim Kaine gave the State of the Union rebuttal in 2006 as the governor of Virginia. He had political success immediately afterward: He become chair of the Democratic National Committee in 2009 and was elected to the US Senate in 2012. But he failed to capture the vice presidency in 2016 as Hillary Clinton's running mate. His name will forever be on the losing side of one of the nation's greatest political upsets.

    7. Sen. Tom Daschle (2004)

    New US Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle talks to the media after assuming the leadership role.
    Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota gave the State of the Union response in 2004. He lost his Senate seat that November, and then had to withdraw from his nomination to be health and human services secretary in 2009 after mistakes on his tax returns. His counterpart in the address, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, had better luck, going on to become the first female speaker of the House. But Pelosi's Democrats lost the majority in 2010 and she's been trying to get it back ever since.

    8. Rep. Dick Gephardt (2002)

    Then-House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt gave the State of the Union rebuttal in 2001 and 2002. He ran for president in 2004 but dropped out after the Iowa caucuses. There was speculation about his vice presidential candidacy in 2004 and 2008.

    9. Sen. Bob Dole (1994)

    Both Bill Clinton and Bob Dole have gotten off some zingers in their careers.
    Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas gave the GOP response to the State of the Union in 1994 and again in 1996, when he was nominated to run against President Bill Clinton's re-election campaign. It didn't go so well -- like his bids for vice president in 1976 and president in 1980 and 1988.

    10. Rep. Tom Foley (1992)

    Tom Foley, a Democrat who represented Washington state in the House for 30 years took over the office of the Speaker after the resignation of Jim Wright.
        Former House Speaker Tom Foley gave the Democratic State of the Union response in 1990 and 1992 under President George H.W. Bush -- until he became only the third speaker of the House to lose his re-election bid to his seat, in 1994.