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. Terry

    If you are Black, Latino, Hispanic, classified as Middle Class, or Elderly, the Republicans would like you to either die or move to Mexico. The illegals in this country are willing to work for less money, they will never apply for social security, and they already get free healthcare at the local hospital, so medicare will not be needed when they retire. Rick Perry wants the United States to secede from the world.

    September 8, 2011 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  2. Chad

    The haves telling the haves nots that they aren't important to them, enough to show up and listen to the POTUS trying to fix the problem. Pay attention all of you independents, is this crisis getting better by this type of political theatre? Pay attention to those same idiots during re-election time state that their oponents were careless with spending, yada yada yada. Does sitting around and doing nothing actually create jobs?? Like Hoffa said, "Let's take these son-of-a-bitches out and give America back to America where we belong."

    September 8, 2011 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  3. Robin

    Typical Republicans. The country will NEVER get back to being a strong nation because of our Congress. It doesn't matter who is President. Our Congress is destroying our Country. We've been told for years now taxes on the wealthiest is not the answer because the wealthy create jobs. Well, they've had 10 years to create jobs and it appears to me our job situation is worse than it's ever been. Raise their taxes and make them pay their fare share. A word to Congress... Stop being children and act your age. Be the professional you claim to be and work together.

    September 8, 2011 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  4. Joe

    What incredibly ignorant people. Just when you think the boorish behavior of the Republicans can't possibly get any worse, they manage to outdo themselves. I wonder what kinds of other bad examples they set for their children at home?

    September 8, 2011 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  5. BD70

    Last time I saw this kind of disrespect was when Paterson was governor of NYS. It is shameful.

    September 8, 2011 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  6. Sue

    I find it rather disconcerting to watch the republicans show their arrogance and classless behavior once again. Obviously they are impervious to the fact that the overall approval rating of the republican-led Congress by the American public is at 14% and their DISAPPROVAL rating is at 82%!!!!!!!! I can only ascertain that they must not be concerned about it, or more likely, their deep-seeded resentment of our President has taken over any previously wise judgement they may have possessed at some time in their life. I was a republican for many years, in fact my first vote for a democratic president was for Barack Obama in 2008 and I haven't regretted it for a moment. We had some good republican presidents in past years, however, I fear that the days of the former PRINCIPLED republican leaders are a thing of the past. Sad, to say the least, but the behavior of republican politicians that I've witnessed since President Obama took office has been classless, discourteous, and brash.

    September 8, 2011 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  7. Al in Texas

    David Vitter is the senator caught using an escort service and his constituents approved and re-elected him. That says a lot about Louisianaians. He says he's going to be on the couch watching a football game. How will we know if he is instead in a bedroom with one of his call girls?

    September 8, 2011 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  8. IRemember

    I bet Vitter has invited some nice ladies to his football party.

    September 8, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  9. Paul1st

    The Republicans showed up and did nothing. Now they do not even bother to show up. Full pay, health care, perks and over-the-top pension...

    September 8, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Even republicans have the right to their own opinion. But, unfortunately, their interpretation of the facts and understanding of the economy is fundamentally flawed. See the links below!

    http://money.cnn.com/2011/09/08/news/economy/stimulus_jobs_record/index.htm?hpt=hp_t2

    http://money.cnn.com/2011/09/08/news/economy/bernanke_speech/index.htm

    President Obama and the democratic led congress passed several measures that kept this country (and the world for that matter) from entering into another "great depression." Anyone with even a fundamental understanding of macro-economics will tell you that the government has to spend money to keep the economy afloat when the private sector is unable to do so. Granted, the deficit is a long term problem that will ultimately have to be addressed but, for now anyway, borrowing money is "cheap" and it is a worthwhile investment to borrow money to finance infrastructure projects that will put people back to work.

    Moreover, private corporations are already sitting on somewhere between 2.0 and 2.5 trillion dollars in cash assets. Giving more tax breaks to the wealthy and the already cash rich corporations is not going to get us out of this mess. If "trickle down" economics were going to work to pull us out of our current economic malaise it would have happened already! Anyone with any common sense at all would realize that the economic policies advocated by the republican party, which got us into this mess in the first place, sure as hell isn't going to get us out of it!

    What sense does it make for a company to hire workers to produce products and provide services if no one can afford to purchase them! After all, the people who hold the top 10% of our country's wealth can only buy so many toasters, refrigerators, cars, etc. It's time to focus on the "demand" side of our economy (i.e., putting more money into the pockets of consumers).

    And lets not forget that the Affordable Health Care Act was designed to slow the growth of medical costs so more money will be available for paying down the deficit and increasing the purchasing power of our country's citizens.

    President Obama and the Democratic Party in 2012!!!

    September 8, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  11. Harvey

    GOP sitting out this matter should be recalled, but the idiots who put them there flaunt their disrespect, boorishness, and lack of class like badges of honor. I'm sure they'll be busy doing important jobs like hanging a few more hub caps in their "livin' rooms" to spruce up for when company comes over for possum stew.

    September 8, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  12. Beverly

    This is a situation where the president needs to be forceful and tell the fabulous 5 to have their asses present! He should use those exact words. This is the exact reason ehy nothing can get accomplished in Washington. The 'people' are sick of it! If they can't even attend and listen to the President speak, what exactly do we need with them? They are receiving a salary/benefits (something a lot of people don't have right now) for doing nothing! This should be remembered when voting season comes around! Pathetic!

    September 8, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  13. Qi

    Obama needs to step down and let a real leader like Bachman take the helm. She will free everyone of their dependence on Washington for health care and education. She will unleash the free market so people can keep their pay check and get gas for 2 bucks. Long live Bachman.....

    September 8, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  14. ex-sarge

    Do you get paid if you don't show up for work? Would someone in the media like to step up to the plate and remind our elected officals that this is part of their jobs, it ain't about liking it, it's about doing what you were hired to do: be representatives of the people of your state. I don't need someone representing me, with their @$$ parked on a couch watching the game. I do need someone to make sure my tax dollars aren't beign wasted. Why is it that there was not enough money to provide the troops with body armor, but plenty to hire high priced mercenaries? Why are you worried about the deficit when you let (literally) skid loads of real money disappear in Iraq??? You can't be for reducing the deficit and for tax breaks. If corporations are people, why is it that no one is concerned with their citizenship? Can we see Bank of America's citizenship papers please? Anyone know the nationality of Exxon Mobile??? Close all loopholes and let the corporations become the outstanding tax payers that the Republicans think they are.

    September 8, 2011 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  15. Jack

    Where I work, if you don't show up for work because you don't feel like it–you're fired.

    September 8, 2011 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  16. GaryOwen27

    Ahh, the Red Neck Right and another temper tantram.

    September 8, 2011 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  17. Chandler

    The GOP cares NOTHING about jobs. They do NOT CARE about the American people. Clearly, this is all about poltiics to them. JOBS are the #1 issue for Americans, and the GOP is showing it will put 0 effort into working on that issue.

    September 8, 2011 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  18. Larry L

    Since when have government employees been given the option of attending important meeting? I believe they should be treated like the rest of working people in the country. If they don't go to work they should be fired and sent home without the cushy retirement benefits they get in Congress.

    I'm in favor of several new contstitutional amendments. One would require the Congress to do their job and deliver a solid budget proposal to the President in time to fund the fiscal year. If they fail, all benefits and pay checks stop and do not resume until their work is done. If by January 1 (of the same fiscal year) the budget isn't delivered we hold a recall election. As part of the same amendment we allow increasing the federal deficit only after a referundum vote on major budget items – voted on directly by the taxpayer without any hype or political posturing. At that point the Congress would have shown their inability to do their job and the taxpayer would be required to serve as the honest broker. The referundum vote would establish a national priority list and to increase the deficit, COngress would be forced to comply.

    A second amendment would be to abolish all campaign contributions by lobbyists, labor unions, corporations, and special interest groups. Make every contributuin above $1000 a part of the public record published in real time. Account for every dollar and send unspent funds directly to the treasury – not holed away in some slush fund for later use. Congressmen caught taking contributions from these groups would go to jail – just like any other government employees accepting bribes. Not the white collar jail... real prison.

    I'll bet working people would support these amendments. We do our jobs.

    September 8, 2011 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain

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

    Corporate American is enjoying the lowest taxes in decades and are sitting on $2 TRILLION in cash. Regulations that guarantee we don't have lead in our toys or anti-freeze in our toothpaste should not be considered "a burden."

    If American companies don't want to pay their American workers a living wage – that's the problem. They expect us all to reduce our standard of living to the point of our third-world country counterparts.

    The Repubs know this – they just don't have the stones to admit that what they really want is to destroy the American Middle Class.

    September 8, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  20. jen

    Thank GOPers, you have shown the American people over and over again that you are not willing towork with the President, agree or disagree with his policies its your job/responsibility to the be there...mindful we voted you in and will surely vote you out come 2012 – OBAMA-BIDEN 2012

    September 8, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  21. martin

    Skip the reply as well. We know what you'll say already.

    September 8, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  22. Steve

    These GOP congressmen are showing the utmost disrespect, not only to President Obama as a person, but to the office of the President itself. For Sen Vitter to openly state he is staying in Metaire in order to watch the Saints game instead of doing his job is ludicrous. I couldn't imagine telling the CEO of my company, Sorry, I'm not coming to your meeting because there is a football game. At what point does this lunacy end? I understand people have different opinions, but the GOP's stance of "Our way or no way" has got to go. During the tyrannical years of George Jr., the GOP created debt, fear and in turn dismantled this country. Now that President Obama hasn't been able to rectify all the previously wrongs done in the 2 1/2 years in office, the GOP has the nerve to state it is all on his shoulders. Yet, every plan he or the Democrats come to the table with is dismissed before it is even reviewed. Not only should Americans vote these GOP members out of office, but they should be brought up on charges of dereliction of duty and borderline treason.

    September 8, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  23. Aeromechanic

    What an utte rlack of respect for the office of President. I don't care if you like the man or not, he is the PRESIDENT of the USA!!.

    POS republicans.

    September 8, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  24. Bob

    After reading various posts of "four and the door", I have come to the conclusion this individual must have lots of time to post negative comments about President Obama (your handle says it all!). It is most unfortunate that he/she finds it humorous that five Republican so-called public servants chose to boycott the President's speech. Whether you agree with him or not, grow up! I've stressed to my children they should not take the "I'm going to take my toys and go home if I don't get my way"! Where are the adults?

    September 8, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  25. George

    Well what a surprise !! I would have thought the GOPer's would be wanting to assimilate any approach to creating jobs for out of work citizens....oh wait, that's right, they are the ones who said no more unemployment benefits. Go home and watch the game, right?

    September 8, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
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