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With guest list for Trump address, Democrats seek to send messages

WASHINGTON -- Even before they hear his address Tuesday night, Democrats are sending their own messages to President Trump -- with their choices of guests.

Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) is bringing an Iraqi-born New Jerseyan who worked as a translator and reporter for the Los Angeles Times, and whose brother served as a translator for the U.S. military. Both immigrated to the U.S., according to Booker's office.

Similarly, Rep. Donald Norcross (D., N.J.) is bringing the president of Rowan University, who grew up in Iran. And Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) is hosting a Montgomery County veteran who relies on Medicaid to care for his Parkinson's and his daughter's Down syndrome.

Democrats across the country are making similar statements with their choices of guests.

Booker's guest will be Saif Alnasseri, who now lives in Scotch Plains, in North Jersey, with his family and works at a Walgreens. He and his brother both received threats for cooperating with the U.S. in Iraq and came to America as refugees, according to the senator's office.

"Last month, President Trump's Muslim ban—which tried to ban people like Saif—was rejected by millions of Americans and blocked by the federal courts. His executive order didn't make us safer, it betrayed our national values and it betrayed those who so courageously helped our country," Booker said in a statement. "I will fight any attempts by President Trump to reintroduce a similarly xenophobic, un-American and damaging executive order."

Norcross is bringing Dr. Ali Houshmand, and similarly vowed to fight Trump's plans for a revised executive order.

"Dr. Ali Houshmand's journey from poverty to the presidency represents everything that is great about our country," Norcross said in a release. "When President Trump looks into the audience, I hope he sees Dr. Houshmand and realizes his proposals hurt real people. Our nation is stronger and smarter because we opened our doors to Dr. Houshmand."

Houshmand, in the statement from Norcross' office, said he hopes Trump will "offer words of healing, that bring our nation together and embrace every American – regardless of faith, background or country of origin."

Casey's guest is Joe McGrath of Lafayette Hill, Pa. His presence is aimed at highlighting what Democrats see as the danger of cuts to Medicaid.

Philadelphia-area Republicans are generally opting for less politically charged guests.

Rep. Pat Meehan, of Delaware County, invited state Rep. Nick Miccarelli, a staff sergeant in the Army National Guard who has served in Iraq, Bosnia and Kosovo. Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) is bringing Daniel DeLilla, president of Equus, a Center City-based real estate investment firm. Toomey's office said the two are friends.

And Rep. Tom MacArthur, a South Jersey Republican, stayed close to home: He is bringing his wife, Debbie.