February 16th, 2009
09:26 AM ET
2 years ago

IL Republican: Obama only arm-twisted in public

(CNN) – It’s not often that a freshman member of Congress gets a ride on Air Force One and a personal shout-out from the President himself in front of the hometown crowd. Illinois Republican Rep. Aaron Schock got both last week but still voted against President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus bill.

After joining Obama on the presidential plane to Peoria, which is part of Schock’s congressional district, the President made a specific appeal to Schock during an event at a Caterpillar plant.

“Aaron’s still trying to make up his mind about our recovery package,” the President said last Thursday. “He’s a very talented young man. I’ve got great confidence in him to do the right thing for the people of Peoria,” Obama added.

But the presidential spotlight was not enough to win over Schock.

“Ultimately, I listened to my constituents and I looked at what I knew about the bill and determined it was not in the best interests of my constituents,” the freshman Republican said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “It was not really a stimulus bill with the majority of the money going towards stimulating the economy.”


Schock says the new president was kind notwithstanding their differences over how best to help the nation’s struggling economy.

Being on Air Force One “was an amazing experience,” Schock told Chief National Correspondent John King.

Related: Air Force One is one 'spiffy ride,' Obama says

“I like the President. He’s a very good guy . . . I want him to be successful. I want to vote for a stimulus bill. I appreciated his hospitality in bringing me along on the trip. . . . But at the end of the day my responsibility is to the people who gave me this job – my constituents,” the 27-year-old said.

President Obama “could not have been more cordial” onboard Air Force One, Schock said. “He waited for the hard sell, if you will, in front of the national media. That’s when I really got both of my arms twisted there in front of hundreds of my constituents and the national media when he had me stand up and basically ask my constituents to put the pressure on me.”

Like some of his Republican colleagues in the Senate, Schock also took issue with the legislative process that resulted in the massive stimulus bill.

“Bipartisanship is not one party writes the bill and we all vote for it. Bipartisanship means you truly meld together both sides ideas and come up with a compromise bill,” Schock told King. “That didn’t happen in this case and ultimately, that’s why I voted against it.”

Schock is currently the youngest member of the 111th Congress and was recently voted the “Hottest Freshman” in Congress in a poll of Huffington Post readers.

soundoff (777 Responses)
  1. AJ

    Thank you Rep. Shock! We need people who vote their conscience and their constituency. Since the beginning of the election thru the present, the media has trained us to be enamored with a man – practically worshiping him as messiah. We need people who will break from this craziness.

    February 15, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  2. Sumar

    Well lets see how the people of Peoria now feel about him........

    February 15, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  3. Bobby

    It is well pass the time to forget about 30 percent of the country, mostly concentrated in the south but else where, that is either to stupid or stubborn to get behind Obama even when it is directly in their interest to do so.

    February 15, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  4. Louise Perkins

    The President gives the impression that he truly desires bi-partisan efforts in Congress, and he seems to have met with Republicans to gain insight to their views. But in the final anaylsis, Mr. Obama is doing just what he says he would do: give more rights against the marriage amendment, make abortion easier; resist faith-based programs, appoint people in high places who have little regard for a values system. Do I want him to succeed as the President, oh, yes, but in all areas of our society, keeping us safe from destruction......from within! I am hopefull, yet very fearful.

    February 15, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  5. Dick Willis

    Ultimately, I believe, that the Republicans who are making the argument that the Democrats have not acted in a bipartisan way are just making noise. They have the best of both worlds. They can stand on the sidelines and rant about this or that problem with the stimulus bill all the while knowing that the bill will get passed anyway. Then, if the bill fails they can wave their fingers at the Dems and say "I told you so!" If the bill is successful they can stand quietly by and reap the benefits of its success.

    February 15, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  6. Bobby

    It is well pass the time to forget about 30 percent of the country, mostly concentrated in the south but else where, that is either to stupid or stubborn to get behind Obama even when it is directly in their interest to do so.

    February 15, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  7. Margaret

    I truly admire Mr. Schock's truthfulness to himself and to his constituants. Mr. S., I hope you never "cave"!

    February 15, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  8. Kathey

    It's unfortunate that the Republican party is playing the politics-as-usual game. Instead of trying to work together, in a time where we are seeing record unemployment numbers, foreclosures, etc., even those from my home state of Illinois can't get it together.

    Have our elected officials not learned ANYTHING from the last eight years? It shouldn't be this difficult! I'm completely disappointed and jaded by the process. Shock's lack of action (as with many others) proves that yet again, the American people are going to continue to suffer because of petty squabbles.

    February 15, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  9. Kaye -Jacksonville FL

    How sad. A lamb – following the herd to slaughter. I imagine John Bohner gave this young Senator an arm twist that pales in comparison to any encouragement Obama might have offered. Arlen Spector has publicly stated that the many more Repugs would have voted "aye" but for the party-partisan arm-twisting and threats. So Senator Schock just got his first lesson in Republican hard-ball – "Our way or no way, You vote with us or we'll take you down!"

    February 15, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  10. Arrah

    Obama likes symbolism which is a good thing and we need that, but:
    Is he using the wasted (?) time from the passing of the bill to the symbolic signing of it on presidents day, to read it line by line?
    Has he even read it and did he read it line by line?

    The symbolism of "PACKAGE" has blinded everyone to the fact that critical issues that could have been in separate bills and passed very quickly have been delayed.

    Like Stop foreclosures, raise in unemployment, pass the food stamps etc. And a bill to give our returning soldiers their wages for a period of time instead of the shame of no jobs when they got back. God bless Sears policy about our reserves and their support.

    February 15, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Same old talking points. He's really learning good habits

    February 15, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  12. Connie from Indiana

    Wouldn't it be sad if his constituents did not receive any benefit from the stimulus. The repubs do not want to work with Obama considering it was the repubs who put us where we are.I can not wait for 2010 and 2012, maybe he will be the youngest to leave office also.

    February 15, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  13. Independent_me

    Typical.
    This will create jobs for his constituents...but that doesn't matter.
    What matters is that the Republicans do everything that they can to derail President Obama.
    They hate Obama and the Democrats more than they love their constituents, or their country.
    Spineless.

    February 15, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  14. meh

    You didn't listen to your constituents. You listened to your fellow GOP politicians.

    February 15, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  15. ja3p0

    Mr. Schock should be president in waiting. Obie can tell him how easy it is to get on-the-job training.

    February 15, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  16. STepper

    Rep. Schock should enjoy the ride. It's the last he'll get on Air Force One. And if his constituents are smart, this will be his only term. He and his Republican counterparts are marginalizing themselves. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

    February 15, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  17. Bruce Everett

    I live in this "kids" district.

    He is a freshman congressman from the Peoria area and was AFRAID to be the only Republican to vote with the President. I am guessing he cannot see nor does he have any feelings for the 20,000 plus people who have been laid off at Caterpillar in the past few months. By the way, Caterpillar is NOT the only place in central Illinois laying off workers. I work as an independent consultant and have been out of work since Thanksgiving. As far as I know, he didn't talk to any constituents AND if he did, I bet it wasn't any who were standing in the unemployment lines worrying about their bills.

    I hope these 20,000 plus people are still here the next time he runs for re-election. Wouldn't it be ironic if he was the person looking for help the next time. Whether we're donkeys or elephants, getting stung like this (by our freshman congressman) will stay in our minds for a LONG, LONG TIME.

    February 15, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  18. vernyuy

    CNN and the republicans don't realize just how out of touch they are

    Nobel winning economists say, if anything the package is too small....
    Most polls show a majority of americans favoring the stimulus....

    But you pack your show with obstructionist republican shills and people like John KIng give McCain a pass on his platitudes....
    Think progess studies show you have had more 4 X more republicans than democrats on this debate and practically zero economists...

    You have no credibility and as proof you'll probably not post this..

    February 15, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  19. Dan

    Good for Schock, a true self thinker, not a lemming following the wrong socialist crowd....

    February 15, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  20. Kevin

    He listened to his constituents, did he? So all the other Republicans in congress now live in Peoria?

    February 15, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  21. Mark

    Party 1st. Country 2nd. That's the Republican philosophy.

    Keep it up Republicans, and in 2010 there will be even less of you in Congress.

    Thank you for realizing you suck, and actively contributing to your long overdue extinction.

    February 15, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  22. Mac

    Talk about putting pressure on someone. "Do the right thing for the people"? Sounds more like don't decide yourself just listen to me, I know all the answers.

    February 15, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  23. Tom

    It doesn't make this newbie appear all that savvy try to, in essence, to belittle a president who is not only extremely popular but who is from AND carried Illinois by a very nice margin. Young Aaron someday want the help OR AT LEAST NOT THE STRONG OPPOSITION of this charismatic president in the 2010 congressional race. Mr. Schock may be in for a real SHOCK when he faces an opponent who has the backing and support of President Obama. The few brownie points he may think he has won with his dwindling GOP fellow House members will not be worth his looking so foolish and ungracious in this situation.

    Wake up and smell the ballots, Mr. Schock.

    February 15, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  24. mjvonshrum

    Many times when I watch CNN, I feel like I am watching Fixed News aka Fox News. I have turned to my local network for unbiased news.

    What happened CNN, did you hire a lot more Glen Beck types? Geez, I will flip over to Fixed *Fox" news instead of watching CNN (Partisan Republican" news.

    Who cares what that right wing little jerk thinks?

    February 15, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  25. Linda

    If the republicans would spend as much time trying help the american people more than trying to destroy us, we could probably get out of this hole dug by them and the Bush administration.

    February 15, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
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