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. Jack

    Okay, Rush and Hannity, how much do you have with the disrespecting of our president! All in the name of ratings!

    A good question to ask in my opinion.

    September 8, 2011 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  2. Lan

    In my 7 decades of participation in American politics, I have never witnessed a more immature bunch of Republican Congressmen behaving in such inexcusable vindictive ways. Town hall meetings should have been held during their month-long vacation. A football game can be recorded for viewing later. We, who are paying their salaries, are fed up with their obvious attempts to sabotage President Obama. I will not be voting as a Republican any longer.

    September 8, 2011 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  3. saftgek

    There is nothing new in this article. The post merely affirms the GOP position since Barack Obama was inaugurated: "screw the people, we're going to destroy the President!"

    The article punctuates the GOP's position as a collection of haters. They are so obsessed with destroying President Obama and the Administrationi, they will sacrifice the health and well-being of the people and the environments in which they live.

    Last night's "debate" was yet addtional proof that the GOP will bash what is being attempted to right the Bush-Cheney wrongs, but bring nothing foward of substance as an alternative to what is so vile to them. Of particular note was the reprehensible conduct of Candidates Romney, Perry (especially Perry), Bachmann (pitiful soul) and – lest we forget – Gingrich (driven from Washington, D.C. in shame). They refused to answer questions; rather, rambled on about their prepared messages and one-liners.

    Sadly, we saw last night – and see continuously – the seeming best the GOP has to offer. As a life-long independent, I observe what is so about politics in this day and age – and (pardon the grammar), "It Ain't Pretty, Folks!"

    September 8, 2011 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  4. cathstar

    We elect these buffoons and pay their salaries. So, any who do not show up for the President's speech tonight, without a damned good reason, should be fired. We should have the right to fire these idiots that we hire. That's how it works in corporate America.

    The Republicans only goal is to defeat Obama in 2012 and they don't give a damn about what happens to our country in the interim. In fact, the worse things get, the better it will look for them. Unfortunately, we the American people, will be the losers.

    September 8, 2011 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  5. FDA

    Do they really think they haven't set a standard for the party not sitting in the white house. The unseated party will be doing this from now on, unless the voters kick them out of office. The extreme right wing that is controlled by Rush Limbaugh cannot control this country, and the news network that propagates his message needs to be controlled. I'm an independent, and right wing crazies are driving me further left. Fox news gives a voice to the tea party extremest, just like Al Jazeera gives a voice to the extremest that terrorize the rest of the world. It's time for independent voters to rise up and take back the country from these "left behind" idiots!

    September 8, 2011 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  6. Wallster

    Well then what is YOUR plan GOP???? Tax breaks for job creators?? Doesn't seem to be working. Since you ran on the platform of job creation, why not pipe up already and give us your plan instead of knocking the Presidents!

    September 8, 2011 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  7. rs

    When the GOP members of Congress fail to attend a joint session of Congress for the President's speech on jobs creation I KNOW they don't care about me, or the millions of the middle class. Why should we vote for them?
    The GOP/TP have caused the evaporation of thousands of federal, state and local jobs apparently just to increase the misery of the working classes in their quest to bring down the President.

    Their goals are clear- and now so are mine. I won't vote for a Republican, ANY Republican whether it be for President, Senator, or even local dog catcher.

    September 8, 2011 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  8. pat carr

    "As President, Obama has been the most unpresidential ever in our history. He has no class and does not respect the office he serves. So why should anyone respect him?"

    really? how does he "disrespect" the office? The mindless anger shown by the obama haters is just ridiculous.

    September 8, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  9. maf

    Republicans ran on the JOBS, JOBS, JOBS platform in 2010. Now the President is offering up ANOTHER jobs option, the GObTP are: not interested, not going to watch, already made up their rebuttal comments, have a headache, going to watch football, blah, blah, blah. . .
    You haven't even heard what the POTUS has to say yet your stance is still simply to say NO. So petulant to continue to support "Cut Spending" without the opportunity to allow for revenues.

    Took a look at the picture of Perry grabbing Ron Paul's arm and gesturing to him during last night's debate (if you can call it that). Looks like a bully! Really hope that he is the GOP nominee for 2012.

    September 8, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  10. Night fatty

    Not surprised... They are brick walling any plans Obama has for moving this country forward. Most of the GOP have gone far right without a chance of ever recovering the center which means nothing else then partisan politics. They don't have a chance during the general elections... Obama 2012!

    September 8, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  11. btl_driver

    Justamused - if the Dems could "get the country on track" when they controlled everything for 2 years what makes you they can do it in 6. I know everyone likes to blame bush and others but all the dems have done is throw money at the problem and it hasn't fixed anything and possibly made it worse.

    September 8, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  12. pat carr

    This behavior by the GOP is one of the reasons i don't believe i can ever vote R again. What a bunch of babies

    September 8, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  13. oneSTARman

    There is AMERICA – Then There is the Republican Congress.

    September 8, 2011 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  14. Steve/CT

    As a Democrat, I watched the Republican debate to see what they had to say. There was nothing new. I'm glad I live in sastate entirely run by Democrats. By the way, the vast majority of outside economists say the stimulus package worked at saving us from a depression. The Republicans keep repeating the lie it failed. Repeat a lie often enough and the uneducated will believe it. Same Tactic the Nazis used.

    September 8, 2011 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  15. mike

    These people get a salary paid by the American People. That pay requires them to do their job and part of that job is to be present when there is a joint session of Congress. It is not their prerogative to "decide" not to be present. It is an insult to the Presidency no matter who is occupying the office and an insult to the American People. The lack of respect and courtesy on the part of these people should not go unnoticed or unpunished by the leaders of Congress and their respective peers. Their pictures and names should be on the front page of every American newspaper and front and center on every single news channel in this country. This kind of childish immature behavior has to stop now. It is destroying this country at its very core. IT HAS TO STOP NOW!

    September 8, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  16. Xllunt

    Adam, you are right, we have no where to go because this is OUR country too! I spent time fighting for OUR country and OUR free way of life, not socialist Europe, not communist China or border crossing Mexico, Central America and South America. My family has lived, worked, and fought for the United States of America since its founding.

    September 8, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  17. Statman29

    Any member of Congress who fails to be in the chamber for a speech by the President is derelect in their duty as an elected representative (short of illness or a death in the family). Missing the speech for a football game? Town hall meeting? How very convenient the excuses by the Republican Party. The elephant should be replaced by something more suitable-like a PIG. All of the Senators and Congressmen mentioned in the above story should be recalled (with the exception of Rubio if he truly does have a family crisis).

    September 8, 2011 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  18. Independent In Albany

    Today, as we face financial and political crises, it's useful to remember that the ravages of the Great Depression hit Germany and the United States alike. Through the 1930s, however, Hitler and Roosevelt chose very different courses to bring their nations back to power and prosperity.
    Germany's response was to use government to empower corporations and reward the society's richest individuals, privatize much of the commons, stifle dissent, strip people of constitutional rights, and create an illusion of prosperity through continual and ever-expanding war. America passed minimum wage laws to raise the middle class, enforced anti-trust laws to diminish the power of corporations, increased taxes on corporations and the wealthiest individuals, created Social Security, and became the employer of last resort through programs to build national infrastructure, promote the arts, and replant forests.
    To the extent that our Constitution is still intact, the choice is again ours.

    September 8, 2011 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  19. normajean

    Surprise Republicans.......this action says a lot more about you than it does our president.....frankly, we are not surprised and couldn't care less!!!! this just emphasizes what we have said all along. You don't care a damn for the people of this country, it's all about you.....well surprise....you may soon find out that it "isn't all about you"!!!!!BY THE WAY AS FOR SCHEDULING OF THESE TWO EVENTS....GIVEN A CHOICE I'D PICK HIS SPEECH OVER YOU BUNCH OF CLOWNS ANY DAY!!!!!!

    September 8, 2011 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  20. Gamechanger

    This is a new low for the GOP. Truly. Which is remarkable because just when you think they can't go any lower, they keep digging. Could you imagine if this were a GOP president and Democrats were skipping the speech. It would be the end of the world. FOX would start a new channel just to grip about it. Here's a little news flash, GOP: You have a job. 14 million Americans don't and want one. Your job is to solve all of our problems. And guess what the #1 problem in America is right now? That's right, we need jobs. Now do your job and get your collective asses to the speech tonights and show the one guy who is working on our problems some respect.

    September 8, 2011 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  21. Ken in MD

    Once again members of Congress are failing to do the job they were hired to do. How can they make an informed decision on a topic if they refuse to listen to the proposal? You're fired!

    September 8, 2011 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  22. Byrd

    It's not that these republicans are acting on principles, because they have none. They're just being obstructionist jerks by serving their corporate masters. Sergeant at Arms, arrest these cretins and throw them in the slammer. Now.

    September 8, 2011 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  23. Tired of all the politics

    These politicians insult us all by believing we're stupid, or will just plain forget what they've said and done. Republicans made it very clear early on that their #1 goal is to ensure Obama is a one term President. The country and its people be damned ... there are elections to win! Unfortunately, when the Republicans are successful, the Democrats will then set the same goal for themselves, and then the Republicans, and then the Democrats, and so on until are country is destroyed from within, just as our enemies have predicted for decades.

    September 8, 2011 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  24. toronto Girl

    The American people deserve to have jobs and good healthcare just like we do in Canada! I strongly urge the congressmen and women to reconsider and be there .....do your jobs....the taxpayers are draining their pockets to make you their representative ....do not let your people down!
    Shame ...shame ...shame !

    September 8, 2011 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  25. Liz the First

    Proof positive this is just pure hatred of a black president. these knuckle-draggers have no respect for this man in spite of his being actually elected, unlike their last 'president,' and being the leader of the free world. it doesn't matter to them that their blind hatred for him is destroying this country. the republican party should be declared a terrorist organization and their leaders sent to Gitmo! when they put party loyalty and the single goal of destroying a sitting president, the country be damned, that makes them TRAITORS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 8, 2011 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
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