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. Mary

    I have been reading through these comments. The majority are angry at the Republican Party. So, I ask you, which party is NOT listening to their constituents? Obama needs to get tougher, but his ideas and the agendas he wants to put forth will only help the working/middle class. His speech tonight is being shot down by Republicans before he even gives it!! The only agenda the Republican Party has right now is to get Obama out of office at whatevere cost – with not much focus on trying to work out a compromise on issues and do what's best for the American people. And to not show up for the President's speech (any president's speech) is not only childish and disrespectful, but unconscionable!! Grow up already!!

    September 8, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  2. Keith, US Citizen living in Canada

    Vitter's priority is a football party. Shows how in touch he is.

    September 8, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  3. maggie

    @ robert.fascia you are exhibit a of the idiocy that you decry. Aside from the juvenile name calling, your statement that "In Obama's case he uses the muscle of the IRS to do the robbery–with the threat of a frozen bank account and jail time if you don't pay up!" Do you really believe that Obama put these long standing IRS collection practices in place? Really? My goodness, to hear you tell it, he is responsible for everything but the stink in your toilet.

    September 8, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  4. witchiepoo

    Most Teaparty people don't know what their party is about and the last time they read a book their mothers finger was pointing out each word.

    September 8, 2011 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  5. Maryellen

    The GOP disgusts me. There primary goal since Obama was elected has been to make him fail at the expense of this Country and the American people. They will do everything they can to undermine the economy until next years election. They should be ashamed of themselves, I hope every one of them is voted out. When they became the majority in congress they promised jobs and more jobs, what the hell have they done?

    September 8, 2011 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  6. Grace

    The level of arrogance, insolence and disrespect displayed by many of these Tea Partiers is incredible. It certainly goes hand and hand with their regard for this country. These are the same characters that scream MY COUNTRY , LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT.
    It's time some of them made that choice. They are they are the bottom feeders in this pathetic society of ultra conservative republicanism.

    September 8, 2011 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  7. James

    What do you expect? Their constituents have such a sour opinion of the president that it actually works in their favor to openly defy him. That is what happens when their prevailing theory is that this president is a fraud, a socialist, and a liar. It is only too easy if such lies are spoon fed to the conservative segment of the population who is already paranoid about government to begin with. Face it, republican leaders are excellent manipulators, and the conservative population is so distraught over losing the white house that they will believe _anything_ so long as it discredits the president, his agenda, or his policies.

    September 8, 2011 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  8. newz

    Republicans had a problem with the Obama family when they first walked into the White House. Then his birth. And with their use of the word Messiah they've had problems with him entering into our solar system.

    September 8, 2011 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  9. Kabel

    Big political speeches mean nothing? Well someone better go explain that to Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, Adams, Roosevelt, Reagan, Bush, Nixon, Carter, Ford and JFK because obviously none of their speeches mattered at all. Are the latest generation of Republicans complete idiots? It's called "Leading the country" or how about this "motivating the people". I am beginning to get really worried here. First these whack jobs start talking about getting rid of FEMA then our standing military, than the FBI and the department of education to a complete and utter "gutting" of government all in the name of efficientcy and personal liberty, but now they are trying to gut the separations of power inherent in the Constitution. What's next, martial law, anarchy, chaos?

    September 8, 2011 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  10. Irene

    Will they still be paid their daily wages and keep the seat? I can't miss work because I'm tired of listening to my boss, but I'll be fired if I do...

    September 8, 2011 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  11. Good Riddance

    TREASON. HANG THEM!!!! The president speaks you WILL listen. Otherwise you are unamerican and trying to destroy this country.

    September 8, 2011 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  12. Linda

    These idiots have no care for America – they are rude and it is just as well that they stay home – why don't they give back their cushy health care and retirement that WE PAY> They are so blatantly un American, they should resign. They will not help anything-the Republicans want to bust unions, cut money to teachers and education, old folks and kids- why does anyone vote for them? If you are not wealthy, why would you ever vote for them?

    September 8, 2011 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  13. PhillyInDaHouse

    @robert.fascia – Who let you out of your straight jacket? That is the most looney thing I've yet to hear since Glenn Beck got off of the air. Really, Obama a gangster? So what do you consider the GOP when they previously "refused" to agree to extend unemployment benefits unless it meant extending Bush's tax breaks for the wealthy, and then recently, they refused to extend the debt ceiling unless again, the wealthiest tax breaks were extended?

    I guess the GOP were acting like "monks & nuns" in your book, right? Wow the level of stupidity in this country is truly amazing.

    September 8, 2011 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  14. Bob Ramos

    Senator Rubio, who is with his mother and Rep Bartlett, who is working with flood victims have very good excuses.
    However, the others need to imediately resign from Congress. They cannot accept that a black man is President and thus rather than do their jobs give in to their petty prejudices.

    September 8, 2011 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  15. SZooks

    doesn't matter what Obama does, Republicans will be against it.
    Obama could cure cancer, Republicans would be against it.

    September 8, 2011 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  16. clarke

    So disgraceful of these people. Sets a fine example for the the young people to have respect. I think not, hope they don't raise there own children to be so disrespectful. Maybe with these people, it's do as I say not what I do.

    September 8, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  17. pjwylie

    What arrogant hypocrites. To complain that "Obama doesn't listen" and not show up to listen to what he has to say. These men are insulting the Presidency – not the President. I'm convinced these (mostly southern) good-ol-boy's just can't accept a black man in the Oval Office.

    September 8, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  18. judith

    Typical of the GOP extremist obstructionists to protest Obama's speech before they even hear it. Let's face it, they don't want to do anything to help the economy because their only goal is to defeat this President. It won't happen, however, because most Americans dislike to tea-party and find their goals of handing everything over to upper three percent and destroying the middle class to be deplorable and obsene in the extreme.

    September 8, 2011 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  19. Tim

    This kind of thing is shameful, and I hope the voters will remember that.

    September 8, 2011 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  20. Jack from Illinois

    There are at least five Republicans who need to grow up – or at least figure out what their job is.

    Failing that, there are two states and three Congressional districts who ought to impress upon those five just who it is that they work for.

    September 8, 2011 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  21. mjw

    Mr. President! Hold your head high, you are heads above the naysayers. We expected disagreements but not the vitriol and hate that we have seen. We are watching and waiitng and taking notes. What goes around comes around.

    BE STRONG, WE LOVE YOU! GOD IS ON YOUR SIDE.

    September 8, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  22. Eli

    Obama is a failure. He has had his chance. He must now be replaced with someone, either Democrat or Republican.

    September 8, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  23. demogoat

    Each time a republican opens his/her mouth, another democrat is going to the poll in 2012. Keep talking GOP, you are doing the other party a favor.

    September 8, 2011 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  24. nagrom

    It is quite obvious that the deviants of the party outside of the ones who have real concerns at home ie Florida and PA have no intention of respecting anything the President or Democrats want to do. The Democrats didn't call for dismissal of Walsh and Vitters for their shenanigans or demand an apology from Broun on his classless comments concerning shooting the President. And this is how they pay them back by spitting in their faces? Low class is better than no class and these morons are totally below no class. They should be tarred and feather and dragged through the halls of the White House as an example of ignorant politicians. Very UnAmerican if you ask me. I do so hope the people that voted them into office don't agree with their agenda. It is a sad day in America if they do. Vote them out. They don't deserve to represent this country in anything.

    September 8, 2011 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  25. Olayinka Alamu

    On the part of the Republicans who will not attend the President's speech, it is very disrespectful to the nation, and their behavior is is an act of gross insubordination. Also, I wonder how these kind of people can be looked up to. They should remember that as long as they are in the office, someone, someday will boycott them as well.

    September 8, 2011 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
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