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. Beverly - NYC

    All Republican can sit this one out, why risk thinking for themselves or doing what's best for the folks who voted for them. It okay boys and girls, the Koch brothers and their overlords will direct the talking points tomorrow after tesing a few tid bits tonight with the talking heads at Fox. Whether the President goes for broke with his jobs wish list or presents what he thinks will pass, he isn't getting ANY of it. After he presents his plan tonight , he should look directly into the camera and tell the American people that much. Thank them for electing a bunch of morons who would rather cut their heads off than listen to reason. After the endless debt debates, I don't need another 15 month pissing contest from both sides, while nothing gets done because another election looms and both sides need talking points of blame. The American people will always get the short end of the stick, it's time we realize it and do for self.

    The only way to get folks working again is appeal to business who are sitting on cash, especially those who received tax payer bailout. To whom much is given much is expected. Call the 50 billionaires on the the Forbes list, have them pick any state & work with that State's government to solve the top 10 problems. We will all be bags of bones if the expect Washing to fix anything.

    September 8, 2011 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  2. V in Chicago

    Any one in Congress who does not show up is basically saying "up yours" to the American People! How childish. Isnt' it their jobs to help run this Country? This just goes to show you that the Republicans DO NOT have the interest of this country as a priority. They would much rather stomp their little feet and say "NO". I have a four year old grandson who does this and he gets a time-out for it. It's time for these unwilling members of Congress to get their "time-outs". All the way out of the job. I will vote against any Representative or Senator who does not show up for this and will encourage and work my butt off to encourage others to vote them out as well. I don't wear a label. I do not declare myself Democrat or Republican, but I am an American and this lack of leadership and the inability to come to the table and compromise for the betterment of the country is ridiculous. Anyone so entrenced in their own beliefs that they can not even listen to the other side should step aside and let REAL leaders take the helm.

    September 8, 2011 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  3. Jim N

    What do you expect from a party who's members have acute cases of attention deficit, oppositional defiance disorder? They behave just like the unmedicated children they are.

    September 8, 2011 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  4. david

    Pretty sick of the GOP buzzwords. Just because you own a business doesn't mean you're a "job creator". Jobs are created because of demand for products, not because businesspeople have some extra cash lying around. I could start a business that recycles human excrement and turns it into light bulbs. They smell terrible, and don't produce much light. And no matter how many tax breaks I get, I'm not going to create a single job, because no one is going to buy a light bulb made of shit.

    September 8, 2011 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  5. rudeconsrvative

    The GOP will block everything Obama tries to get done and then blame him for it failing. I'm sick off these people who want to be in power and have done nothing to get the unemployed working again. Last year they said they were going to create a better environment for businesses to hire workers so they could get elected. Now a year later they have done nothing to create jobs and they will do everything to obstruct anything to get the unemployed working. I hope that the electorate sees through their strategy and votes them out of office. We certainly don't need policy makers who are gutting the middle class. All they do is say that Obama is a failure and along with it they are making the United States fail too. They are negative, hateful and have no solutions. Tax cuts for the wealthy have not worked and we are experiencing the failure of their agenda.

    September 8, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  6. sickofmorons

    I protest the shear stupidity of the GOP yet I can't avoid them. I'm just glad to see they are really demonstrating their childish behavior so come 2012 the voters will remember who NOT to vote for – not that I'm an Obama fan either but I'd love for someone who is sane, reasonable and intelligent to run.

    September 8, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  7. George

    Once again the GOP tries to lead from the back. They aren't doing anything, but keeping anyone else from doing anything.
    The GOP is the STATUS QUO party and their dance partner is the Destroy America Tea Party nuts.

    September 8, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  8. Joe

    I have read some Pro Obama comments and some anti Obama ones. The anti Obama ones are based on the premise that Obama has "failed". Who are you listening to? Faux News? The only reason that Obama can't get much done is because the Congress which is REPUBLICAN CONTROLLED refuses to put partisanship aside and really put in an effort to help us! They are more interested in appeasing their extreme right wing ideological followers and Rich benefactors, than working towards real solutions that would move this country forward. I am sick of people twisting the facts and passing the blame unto this Presidency after they Racked up the debt with Two unpaid for wars, the drug prescription plan of Medicare, the Wall Street Bailout!! Remember that? Gosh it was only a couple of years ago that BUSH was still in office, and HE and His COHORTS dropped this bomb on this President and this President has been trying to diffuse it and the Obstructionists (Republicans) will rather watch it explode that actually do what is right by this country. Then they claim Country FIRST? Yeah More like Line their pockets first and screw the American people and hope like you amnesia suffering ones in here will actually vote them back in so they can then do what this President has been attempting to do and then take credit for it!

    September 8, 2011 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  9. FactCheck

    It's quite hilarious that the Tea Party (18% of the electorate) think they speak for "We the People". Keep your squeaking because you are in for a rude surprise come Nov. 2012.

    September 8, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  10. Mirroview

    Maybe if President Obama would stop being a TV STAR then maybe people would attend.
    He's on TV with Speeches more than Oprah or Justin B! I'm for the Pres. to be on TV for State of the Union address, Terrorist attacks and National emergencies but the Media has him on TV way too much. And Sorry GOP slammers the Democrats had control of congress and they didn't do squat!

    September 8, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  11. Eddie B

    Why is anyone surprised about these Tea Party Repubs acting like this. How can anyone expect the President to work with a group that just does not respect him and have no plan to ever work with him. It stinks, but who cares?!?!? Their constituents voted them in to office to act like this. Who calls the President a liar, socialists, commie, etc? I wish people would see it for what it is that these people are pure racists. Hey Joe Walsh why don't you pay your child support, alimony, and mortgage like a responsible man?

    September 8, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  12. Country First or Me First?!

    This behavior denotes a "snapshot" of the ongoing self-centered, partisan folly exhibited during the last 10 years. As Americans, we have been voting emotionally, based on what we did not currently like in government. So, emotionally, we fall for the rhetorical, "armchair quarterback" campaigning of the challenger(s). We must come to realize that politics involve presenting to the people a "talking head" in a nice suit and hairdo, whose sole purpose is to gain favor(s) and privilege(s) from the office they seek. We look at politicians as if they are kings and queens, in that, they are the sole decision maker in passing laws and policy. NEWSFLASH: Congress is interested in your vote, not you or how you live day to day. Special interests drive the agenda of the politician, not you (until next election season). As constituents, we need to do our homework on these politicians before we elect them. Our anger and frustration in our politicians is rooted in our miseducation and our prejudices (admit it or deny it, it's there), which results in whom we elect. As in all things, we are reaping the harvest of what we have sown. Going forward, our valuable vote needs to be cast based on "character" of the politician, not party. Our woes will continue as a country (except those in office, who have no worries, i.e., financial, healthcare, pension, "access to favors/lobbyists) until we stop viewing an entire party as the enemy and then vote accordingly. We, the middle class, will pay the price 100% of the time. "How's it working for ya?!"

    September 8, 2011 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  13. Deborah Rosen

    The GOP doesn't have to like the President, and they don't have to like his party. But those drama queens had better respect the office of the President of the United States, or they won't have an office of their own on Capitol Hill after their next election.

    September 8, 2011 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  14. Ex-Moderate Republican

    I am sick of the republicans in Congress and the Senate. They are being paid by us to do a job. They only work every other week as it is. Stop stealing our money when you accept your pay and benefits for no work. How many of us can refuse to do our jobs and still get paid? Who are the 13% that approve of Congress, their families. We have become the joke of the world because Bohner is letting the minority tea party tell him what to do. I guess they can have their fun now but they need to get their resumes ready because Americans are fed up with their games and disrespect of President Obama.

    September 8, 2011 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  15. Brian

    I agree with Lynda. Sullen teenagers would be more professional than these Republicans.

    September 8, 2011 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  16. Dave R

    The party of NO won't show up. No big surprise. No big loss.

    September 8, 2011 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  17. Bruce/BC

    First let me say I am a Canadian and view your Federal Government, or should I say lack of government, from what I see on the TV and read in the papers.
    It appears that the Republicans or Democrats can't agree on anything even if it destroys your country. Your government as it is, is dysfunctional.
    You are 15 trillion dollars in debt, are involved in 3 wars, have huge unemployment, are on the edge of a recession and your federal government can agree on nothing. At what point do you become a failed state?
    Is it not the job of the government to work for the people not the party?
    I fear for your country and my own if you continue down the path you seem to be on.

    September 8, 2011 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  18. TheAlaskaCurmudgeon

    According to the Constitution you're supposed to be at least twenty-five to serve in the House. But apparently the Republicans have found a bypass that allows three-year-olds to be elected.

    Cool.

    September 8, 2011 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  19. truthfl1

    Obama, Pelosi and (ugh) Reid closed the doors on Republicans when they pushed through Obamacare. Why should they choose to be present when Obama said they can sit in the back and called them the enemy. What's wrong with this guy?

    Obama has no respect for Republicans or the American people, and the dems who post here forget how nasty they were with their comments about President Bush. Why listen to a repeat speech when Obama's first stimulus failed.
    Will not waste my time with Obama's teleprompter speech.

    September 8, 2011 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  20. Peggy - Tx

    Extraordinarily disrespectful to the current dully elected President of the United States.

    Obviously they are planning to block the Presidents efforts to create jobs, even before they know what the plan is.
    It does not take much common sense to know that any effort to create job growth is better then none and so these folks are simply obstructing efforts to help Americans. The cost if President Obama’s plan is quite low if you look at the cost of giving extreemly rich more tax breaks or the amount the Military waste every year.

    I am astonished at the number of really dumb remarks from the minions of the GOP. Really guys, you are dumb. If you all had just half a brain you would figure out that your remarks are dumb like the one: “how about Obama scheduling the speech without consulting Congressional leaders”. The GOP hates you and laughs at how they can manipulate you fools.

    September 8, 2011 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  21. Eric, Boston

    Four and the door
    You are a traitor to this country. You have been thoroughly brainwashed by the c*ock blocking obstructionist party.

    September 8, 2011 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  22. steve a, new braunfels, texas

    The republicans can all leave and stay gone for all I care. I didn't watch there circus act last night on tv iether, two rerunes of criminal minds were better. I will be voting straight Democrat, the republicans are childish and discusting.

    September 8, 2011 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  23. kahliforni

    We can all pretend the GOP, the Tea Party, et al has a problem with Obama's policies and ideas, but I think their disgust with him lies elsewhere...and I had hoped this nation had gone far beyond that unenlightened thinking, Congressmen included.

    September 8, 2011 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  24. Mirroview

    Oh and all the people bashing GW II. No he didn't deserve the treatment he received as BO doesn't. I remember all the cartoons of GW with Big ears and captions noting he was dumb. The cartoonist that drew these things only wish they could accomplish what GW did. Being President isn't easy getting into the WH or doing the job well.

    September 8, 2011 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  25. iTALIAN NONNO

    Damn you all Republican politicians,.. you've now gone too far,.. and it's time for we the people to show our indignation at your lack of respect towards the office of the Presidency. Earn your taxpayer provided pay cheque,.. get your collective butts in that hall, and listen to what the President has to say. Like a bunch of cry babies, you've been lamenting the supposed lack of job creation by Obama,.. he now is unveiling a plan, and some of you swines are boycotting the event. The people deserve better than this group of petulant representatives,.. if you don't do your job, and attend,.. dock them a pay cheque.

    September 8, 2011 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
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