GOPers speak up, but some won't show up to Thursday speech
September 8th, 2011
12:13 PM ET
3 years ago

GOPers speak up, but some won't show up to Thursday speech

(CNN) – Actions speak louder than words, and at least five Republican members of Congress-two senators and three representatives –plan on sitting out the president's jobs speech before a Thursday joint session of Congress.

Call it an act of defiance, protest, or a simple "scheduling conflict"-some members just have other plans.

On Monday, Sept. 12th, CNN will broadcast the "Tea Party Republican Debate," live from Tampa, Florida at 8 p.m. ET. Follow all the issues and campaign news leading up to the debate on CNNPolitics.com and @cnnpolitics on Twitter.

Georgia Rep. Paul Broun also sat out the president's State of the Union address in January, tweeting from his office on Capitol Hill. This time, the congressman told CNN's American Morning Thursday that he's planning to host a "town hall meeting over Twitter" so that constituents can "communicate with me and tell me what they think about the president's speech."

The three-term Republican congressman accused President Obama of believing in socialism during his last tweet-and-response during a joint session, but this time, he said, will be different.

"We weren't holding a town hall meeting on that particular occasion," Broun clarified. "We're inviting people to come on board, to give me comments, to give me suggestions, to tell me what they think we should be doing."

"I'm trying to listen to my constituents," Broun said as he expressed skepticism about the president's intentions.

"This president does not listen. This is just another campaign speech," he stated.

"What we need to be doing is trying to create an environment so that job creators in the private sector will start hiring people, Broun continued.

"Not these ideas that have been proposed by the president. We've already seen them in the stimulus bill. They failed before. They'll fail again."

Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh echoed Broun's sentiments when he told CNN's "Newsroom" later, "It really does seem like every time someone skins their knee the president wants to make a big speech. We're beyond big speeches."

"If this president were serious about coming together, he wouldn't throw together a big campaign speech again."

Arguing that "you can't lead by speeches," the freshman congressman stated that he won't just be boycotting the president.

"I'm actually going to fly home this afternoon and instead of attending his speech I'm going to sit with 40-50 small businessmen and women–the job creators in this country–and they're going to give me their recommendations and I'm going to take them back to the president."

South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint said he's "so tired of [Obama's] speeches" that he will read the text because "it's going to be hard" for the tea party leader to watch.

But House Speaker John Boehner wasn't in favor of actions by errant members of his party Thursday. "I have encouraged my colleagues to come tonight and to listen to the president," he addressed the floor.

"He is the president of the United States and I believe that all members ought to be here and do this. Doesn't mean they are going to. Remember, I am just the speaker, all right. I have 435 colleagues who have their own opinions and they are entitled to them. As an institution, the president is coming to our invitation. We ought to be respectful and we ought to welcome him."

Louisiana Sen. David Vitter just had bigger and better plans, but changed them to attend.

Though he originally stated, "I'm going to be watching from my family room in Metairie, Louisiana because I have a Saints game party there and I'm absolutely going to be there for the big game," spokesman Luke Bolar confirmed that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid changed the vote schedule, effectively cancelling the senator's travel plans.

"Apparently my attending my own Saints game party at home in Louisiana is the latest casualty of Washington partisanship," Vitter wrote in an e-mail to staff. "This HAS gotten out of hand!"

When President Obama first proposed a joint session of Congress last week, the timing went up against a GOP presidential debate. He settled on the Thursday date countered by House Speaker John Boehner, going head-to-head with the NFL season opener featuring the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers instead.

Obama's speech at 7 p.m. ET is timed to occur shortly before the game begins.

Still, Texas Rep. Ron Paul won't leave the presidential campaign trail to attend.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has pressing family matters that will keep him away from the Capitol as well –though his absence is less than political.

Spokesman Alex Burgos told CNN, "Senator Rubio will be returning home early this afternoon to be with his mother, who has been hospitalized following a series of strokes."

And freshman Rep. Lou Barletta announced Thursday he will return to his home state of Pennsylvania to attend to matters related to "unprecedented flooding" in large parts of the Northeastern and Central portions of the state.

CNN's Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.

Watch American Morning weekdays 6am to 9am ET. For the latest from American Morning click here.

soundoff (767 Responses)
  1. Adam

    How can anyone truly believe the GOP has this country's best interest in mine. They don't want to work with him because for whatever their reasons, they hate Obama. They refuse to work with him and always do the opposite of what he seeks, all in an attempt to make him fail. Obviously when an entire party that controls Congress wants to make the executive fail it isnt THAT hard. 2012 will be a big shock to the GOP. I wonder what those crazy tea partiers will do. I swear i'd be so happy if they all moved away, but they have no where to go. . .

    September 8, 2011 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  2. dcmisty

    I find it amusing that these GOP representatives are "tired of" the President's speeches. When do these clowns realize that "We the People" are incredibly tired of all of all THEIR speeches and political theatre and if we had a choice, we'd vote them ALL OUT of office. It appears that the dismal ratings of the Congress must get to 0 before any of these morons will pay attention to what we the people are saying. What a sad state of affairs the USA has sunk to and we owe all to the politicians in D.C.

    September 8, 2011 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  3. once upon a horse

    Congress right now has a 13% approval rating. You would thanik that everyone in Congress would care about that and would at least pretend to care about getting Americans back to work. I guess in some cases though such as with Senator Vitter watching a game planned by millionaires that has owners who are billionaires is far more important.

    September 8, 2011 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  4. BeverlyNC

    Republicans are just showing us all again that they are NOT leaders, have no real values, and should not be in any national office. Republicans have shown nothing but disrespect for the Office of the President, constant lies and slander about President Obama yet they have done NOTHING in Congress about JOBS except obstruct every single piece of legislation on JOBS the Democrats have brought forth. President Obama has not even released his JOBS plan but Republicans have already announced they are against it. So whose policies are failing? Republicans are failing the PEOPLE – NO solutions, NO economically-sound plans, NO JOBS when their corporate buddies are sitting on trillions in profit, and Republicans in the HOUSE are so disinterested in our nation they take 1 week off for every 2 weeks they work – not counting all their recesses and vacations. They make 6 figure salaries, have government healthcare (which they refuse to support for the rest of America) and a great government pension (but yet they want to kill Social Security and Medicare for us).
    President Obama is a REAL leader with REAL values and REAL solutions that are backed up by every credible economist (both Republican and Democrat). The Chamber of Commerce who represents MOST businesses in America is 100% behind an INFRASTRUCTURE plan to get people back to work. So why are Republicans against it? They just want Obama and America to FAIL for their sick extremist politcal games. They are NOT leaders and we need to get every one out of office in 2012 so we can clear the obstruction for the rebuilding of our nation.

    September 8, 2011 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  5. Benny

    I can understand a member of Congress going home to be with an ailing family member or to deal with a natural disaster, but to sit on the couch and watch a football game instead of attending a major speech by the President of the USA is pathetic. Even if you don't agree with the President's policies, as a Congressman you should be there to DO YOUR JOB, and to be properly informed when you want to respond to the speech, as all of these Republican Congressmembers will at some point.

    September 8, 2011 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  6. Four and The Door

    If they miss today's Obama jobs speech, maybe they can catch next month's.

    September 8, 2011 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  7. Annie, Atlanta

    I've never seen a President as disrespected as this one. And the guys doing the disrespecting garner even more respect from their constituents for doing so. What happens to us if we can't be civil, decent, and respectful to one another, at the very least? What happens to us if we demonize people who don't think like we do? Can we hold this country together with the emergence of these attitudes? I'm not so sure anymore, and it's not a good place to be.

    September 8, 2011 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  8. patrice1

    Senators are being paid to represent the people and solve our nation's problems. The biggest problem right now is lack of jobs. A senator who wouldn't listen to the president,s plan is disrespectful and not doing his job. The fact that he would collect his paycheck is appalling and robbery of the citizens of his state. I would demand my money back.

    September 8, 2011 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  9. Enough is Enough

    I know I don't go back for seconds when a bad meal is served and Obama is serving up the same old plan that failed, just like his presidency.

    September 8, 2011 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  10. Annie, Atlanta

    By the way, as a Georgian, I find Paul Broun a disgrace as a public servant, but sadly his behavior is the norm for my state.

    September 8, 2011 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    Anyone who doesn't show up had better be working on a jobs plan of their own ready for presentation the next day. Enough said.

    September 8, 2011 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  12. Tom from Canonsburg

    More of the usual from GOP members. Disrespect to the office of the President. Get back to work you jerks.

    September 8, 2011 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  13. Butch

    I don't care if they are republican, democrat or an independent. Their job is to represent the people that voted them in, they should be in attendance at any event that is required of their position. The position of the president of the united states of america deserves respect from everyone in this country no matter if you like the person or not. FYI, he was voted in by the majority of the people(yes that was sarcasm for those that say the majority of the USA do not approve). Just because your candidate did not win does not give you the right to take your ball and go home. Grow up and do your job.

    September 8, 2011 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  14. Pam

    You 5 are being paid by us taxpayers so do your job and be there!
    This is your President, and ours!
    The current GOP field has become the most un-patriotic group of snivelling weasels that I have ever seen!
    We will remember this come 2012!

    September 8, 2011 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  15. Tim

    Only 5! I'd be surprised if he finds 5 that will support anything he says. America, prepare yourself for at least 2 more years of nothing improving because the Republicans are hell bent on destroying the President at the cost of the United States economy and the middle class.

    September 8, 2011 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  16. SecedingfromTexas

    So,
    Broun, who laughed when a constiuent asked "who's going to shoot Obama?", and
    David Vitter, Mr. Diapers, who just returned from a 6 week vacation is going home to throw a football party, and
    Joe Walsh, did he pay his child support?, and
    DeMint, who is tired of speeches, poor baby, yuk
    are, once again, showing disrespect for the offices they hold, for the Presidency, and for the American
    people with their shallow, idiotic behavior.
    They just returned from a 6 week vacation, and they are off again to party, twitter, and hold town hall meetings
    (which should have been done during their vacations).
    Disgusting is one word for them. So is lack of decency, pettiness, and, in two cases, no morals.
    Well, if it is so difficult for you to do your jobs, save us the money and quit. It is obvious America can do very well
    without you,

    September 8, 2011 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  17. catwill

    This has got to be the worse action of a sitting congressman to refuse to do his job and got to the assembly and listen to a sitting President. This is arrogance bordering on conceit and I will say a little predjudice going on here. The people should be aghast at this behavior when they all have been saying jobs are a top priorty. Unbelievable!

    September 8, 2011 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  18. Joan

    This is an act of insubordination. In a business, you could lose your job for directly refusing to attend an important meeting. These politicians are not acting responsibly and are putting petty politics ahead of what is good for the country. Jobs and the economy are the most important issues facing the country right now and these guys are turning their back on it. Their immature and uncompromising attitude should be remembered during the elections next fall. There will be many politicians attending the speech tonight who will not agree with everything they hear but at least they are showing that they care, realize that it is a hugely important topic and they are doing their jobs. The guy hosting the football party should be totally ashamed of himself.

    September 8, 2011 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  19. Annie, Atlanta

    @Four and the Door and Enough is Enough – what has your party offered? Deregulation that lead to a housing bubble that burst, making the bankers extremely rich and leaving us taxpayers to pick up the pieces? And somehow that's not failure? How about those tax breaks for rich people during two wars for which paying for them wasn't even included in the budget, but now is? That's apparently a good thing, no? Who is big enough to spend enough money to fix this? If we can't work, we can't buy. If we can't buy, business will fail. What brilliant ideas can you come up with to get us back to work and consuming again. Obama is pro business, pro bankers, but his hands are tied. The Republicans in Congress want him to fail, and have done everything they can to meet that goal. If there's one thing I learned in the last couple of years is that we have a party that would destroy us to win. That's some love of country. Go GOP, Go GOP – destroy us – we love it! Then we'll put you back in power so you can pick our bones. Yeah USA!

    September 8, 2011 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  20. John

    They need to be made to pay for these calculated acts of disrespect. The Democrats had much more reason to treat Bush II with disrespect, and did not do so.

    September 8, 2011 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  21. JanetWK

    It is time that the GOP remembered that regardless of their feelings for President Obama, they should RESPECT the office of the President! They need to get over themselves and come together to bring this country back to greatness!

    September 8, 2011 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  22. cal thomas

    Since Vitter got busted he cant solicit prostitutes from the senate floor he might as well go home

    September 8, 2011 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  23. Sniffit

    ""What we need to be doing is trying to create an environment so that job creators in the private sector will start hiring people, Broun continued."

    Environment that creates jobs: HIGH DEMAND. PERIOD.

    Environment that does not create jobs: Increasing net profits via baseless tax cuts and irresponsible deregulation without any effort to generate concurrent increases in demand. Period. All that results in is consolidation, hording, Wall Street gambling and larger yachts with a golden toilet not only in the master bedroom, but in the guest room as well.

    September 8, 2011 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  24. David

    I suppose Joe Walsh will be too busy raising money to pay back child support which his wife has sued to get and DeMint too busy being rude, arrogant, and bashing America which he seems to enjoy. I have a suggestion for him: go back to school, learn to speak and write. Take a course in thinking and somehow obtain some manners.

    September 8, 2011 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  25. ConservaFASCISTS/TEAliban/TEAhadists

    This is blatant disrespect towards the President. They all should be ashamed of themselves. I frankly think it's a derelection of duty.

    September 8, 2011 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
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