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. PD.

    If the Dems pulled this during the Bush years, the Republicans would label them treasonist. Or terrorist sympathizers. What a bunch of juveniles.

    September 8, 2011 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  2. Dick Cheney

    This is typical of the Republicants who's only obstructionist agenda is to take control of the country for their corporate funding greed merchants. Why, if I was president I'd tell them a thing or three. After all, I'm the decider.

    September 8, 2011 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  3. Ancient Texan

    Annie in Atlanta- Where were you during the 8 years of the Bush Administration. Every Democrat starting with Harry Reid on the floor of senate calling George Bush a liar on down to the most obscure, bashing Bush 24/7. John- When did the Democrats pass up an opportunity to show Bush disrespect?

    September 8, 2011 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  4. coy4one

    And Congressional representative that does not respect the President (not just tonight, but any President, at any time) does not deserve the respect of the American people. As far as I am concerned, these boycotters should be banned from committees or any other type of Congressional activity for a least 1 year. However, it just goes to show why the American people give Congress low approval ratings. They don't even take their jobs seriously. Time to vote the boycotters out! The American people want to see problems get solved. It is obvious that these Republicans do not want to be a part of the problem-solving group.

    September 8, 2011 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  5. Joel

    Can we please stop whining about the "disrespect" the GOP has for Obama, and treating it like it's a new thing? The Democrats and our nation's liberals treated George Bush like an idiot and criminal for 8 years. Whatever your opinion on their policies may be, any objective observer has to say that Obama has been treated with kid gloves in comparison. Obama's simply using the Joint Session as a prop to increase the "gravitas" of his speech, and I don't blame anyone from the GOP who doesn't want to be a part of it. Do you really think they don't know exactly what will be proposed?

    September 8, 2011 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  6. Ed

    I'll be walking the dog while the community organizer gives another waste of time speech full of lies.

    September 8, 2011 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  7. John Boejner

    This is typical of the Republicants who's only agenda is to take control of the country for their corporate funding greed merchants. Why, if I was president I'd tell them a thing or three. After all, I'm the decider...............I think..............Isn't that right, Rick????

    September 8, 2011 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  8. NC Mom

    This is their job, and it should be their priority. If I didn't show up at a last minute meeting that my boss called, would I have a job? If I showed disrespect for any of my co-workers, would I have a job? This not professional, and totally infantile.

    September 8, 2011 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  9. HOW Repubs Are

    Proof again...I can't belive anyone would vote for these self-serving boobs again...Does anyone not get the big picture NOW? they are showing there true colors, Now we have to in 2012..Obama can't do w/o help from congress. How can he get anything done with the gop running interferance?

    September 8, 2011 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  10. Lolo

    @ Realy!! is this all you have to complain about? You really do not have a clue do you? America sure does have a lot of dummies running around like you talking out of the side of your neck.

    September 8, 2011 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  11. Rick Perry

    This is typical of the Republicants who's only agenda is to take control of the country for their corporate funding greed merchants. Why, if I was president I'd tell them a thing or three. After all, I'm the decider...............I think I'll pray now

    September 8, 2011 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  12. Posit

    Let's just not do anything. -signed -the Republican Part

    September 8, 2011 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  13. ObamaCares

    I, for one, am filled up with the stupidity of our representatives. Their constituents need to vote them out. They don't care for the American public when they put a "stupid" football game over the interests of the people they represent. Wish someone would dump a load (of what they are shoveling) on each of them. 4 & the door has to be one of the most pitiful and miserable persons on this thread, and it's not because ObamaCares.

    September 8, 2011 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  14. Catherine

    Rubio has the only legitmate excuse. Meeting with 'job creators'? How many jobs have they created lately? They have their tax cuts. Oh yeah, that was just a ruse. What Walsh really needs to do is get a second job and pay his back child support. Football game? Yep, much more important than doing the job you were hired to do. I don't know what has become of our elected officials when they feel 'ENTITLED' to be rude.

    September 8, 2011 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  15. kinglywarrior

    Make these imbeciles pay at the POLLS

    September 8, 2011 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  16. M. Bachman

    This is typical of the Republicants who's only agenda is to take control of the country for their corporate funding greed merchants. Why, if I was president I'd tell them a thing or three. After all, I'm the decider...............I think I'll go read the Constitution now.

    September 8, 2011 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  17. Ancient Texan

    once upon a horse- Obama isn't "the boss" of congress. All three entities of government are equal, none having power over the other.

    September 8, 2011 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  18. RdclCntrst

    "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."

    That is nice to hear from Rep. Boehner, but it IS his responsibility to ensure that the members of his party toe certain lines. That's why he has a Whip. The Speakership of the House IS a bully pulpit, and as nice as it is that he's offering respect to the presidency (what would have happened if Democratic congressmen refused on principle to go listen to a congressional address from Pres. Bush? They would have been labeled treasonous), part of his job duties are to enforce certain manners and decorum. This iteration of a Republican Congress has been notoriously ill-mannered ("You lie!") towards this president, so I don't want to hear it when the next Republican president faces some comparitively minor slight from DDemocrats on the Hill.

    September 8, 2011 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  19. HOW Repubs Are

    Republi CONS are showing their colors. Do not vote for them again. or we will sink the rest of the way , BECAUSE OF THEIR WAYS....They have done NOTHING to help regular people, ONLY THE RICH BENEFIT from their MADNESS.

    September 8, 2011 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  20. J. DeMinted

    This is typical of the Republicants who's only agenda is to take control of the country for their corporate funding greed merchants. Why, if I was president I'd tell them a thing or three. After all, I'm the decider...............I think..............Isn't that right, Ron????

    September 8, 2011 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  21. Ryan NC

    These people are showing great work ethics... now who's stealing their salary? Who's getting a free ride?
    Maybe they should give their salaries to the unemployed.

    September 8, 2011 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  22. Woman In California

    CNN why in the world do you bother to tell us these things? I REALLY don't care if they never attend another session of our president. Anyone of any intelligence knows what this disrespect is ALL about. After all, he is just Barack Obama right? What these pigs don't realize is for most of them – when we have our way in 2012 – they will never have to be mentioned in the annals of our history again and they will ALL have time to visit coffee shops, watch football and seek unemployment benefits because this country will BE RID OF THE ABOMINATION CALLED THE TP FOREVER.

    September 8, 2011 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  23. Jack

    Look Broun, Walsh, DeMint, Vitter, and Paul, either be there to listen to the President of the United States, or resign your position. He's the President, and I don't care what party he is. Be there, or resign. Oh, and grow up too. You're a disgrace to this great country.

    September 8, 2011 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  24. Brassel

    once upon a horse.

    Only problem is the President is not our boss. I know that this is a shocker to you but the Presidnet and Congress work for us. If congress is not helpful Ithey will suffer the same consequences for inaction/failure as the President. People have no faith that we are not going to hear the same warmed over keynesian actions and ideas that we have heard and experienced the last few years. Its insufferable that we are supposed to listen to ideas that we do not agree with and he will not compromise on. I will tell you what will be in the speach: More Spending, temporary tax cut, tax hikes, unemployment extended beyond 99 weeks, and more social engineering.

    September 8, 2011 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  25. cony 007

    These guys are total losers. When America needs to be united more than ever. We have these guys go sideways. Instead of taking the high road. If there is anything that we can learn from President Obama is how he has taken the hide road with all the adversity that has been thrown at him. He has my vote in 2012. He is a class act, a good dad. a good husband, a good man and hopefully he will be our president for another four years.

    September 8, 2011 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
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