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. Emerson

    All you hear from the GOP is we need job creation, the President has not done enough to create jobs, blah, blah, blah. So the President is going before a joint session of Congress to speak about his program to address this issue and Republicans protest his speech by not attending? It defies logic how the GOP can continue to be taken seriously as an entity that is truly interested in solving this countries problems rather than consolidating the wealth and power of their friends and allies, as well as themselves.

    September 8, 2011 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  2. Lynda, California

    The Republicans have been truly reprehensible. I don't know why anyone of sound mind would take them seriously at this point. They are spitting on our Democracy and disrespecting the Office of the President in order to undue an election they lost. If Democrats acted the way they do, Democracy would be dead in this country. This is all about hyper partisan craziness, and should not be tolerated by the American People. If a congressman in your district skips the speech call for his/her resignation immediately. The GOP wants America to fail because we transcended race and elected a non-white president. They are hysterical, unpatriotic and UnAmerican.

    September 8, 2011 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  3. bigeasyinneworleans

    If Jesus was to give this speech on behalf of the Democrats, they would still be against it!!!

    September 8, 2011 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  4. Neo

    They are doing it because its working for them. Just 3 years after bush they are now in a strong contention again So why would they change. I guess they know the American people more than we do!!

    September 8, 2011 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  5. Janet

    By walking away they make it obvious they are not interested in the well-being of the country. We are one country, we need to work together.

    Make it a one-way trip, don't bother coming back– you are not doing YOUR job!

    September 8, 2011 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  6. Woman In California

    @ Tammie Memphis

    Obama makes speeches that does not have directives all the time. Most of us have heard all we want to hear from him. He can't answer the questions thrown at him, he cannot give us a direction, and he has no idea what he is doing in Washington. He does not respect us the Americans, he does not respect our soldiers, he does not respect America, why should anyone respect him? Because he is the President? Pleazzze. Give me a break.

    Okay honey. When the [R]s elect ANOTHER WHITE MALE into office remember your stupid, ignorant words because he will get the VERY SAME treatment given to our [D] president and go ahead and try to make something out of it. Just try it so we can gladly spit in your ignorant disrespectful face.

    September 8, 2011 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  7. Lou

    Obama has been treated like a King compared to the way Bush was bashed for years so get over it. Obama gets a pass from the media while consistently lying and performing his duties so poorly he would have been fired by any public corporation. The man even wrote a book in the White House – sickening. Do you think anyone else could get away with that trash.

    September 8, 2011 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  8. gwwastheworstpres

    this just goes to show republicans DON'T want to work together and DON'T want to help Americans through this economy !!!

    September 8, 2011 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  9. native new yorker

    This is plain insubordination and they should all lose their jobs as we would out in the real world. ENOUGH!

    September 8, 2011 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  10. betterdays

    Yeah, they should show up and do their jobs, like Wisconsin state senators.

    September 8, 2011 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  11. CaliforniaGirl

    Ok, so when the entire Democratic legislature in Wisconsin refuses to do what is required of them and what they are paid to do, they are cheered on by so many of you.

    But when only a couple of Republicans decide not to attend something that they are NOT required to attend (while a majority of the party will attend), then suddenly the whole Republican party is deemed unpatriotic.

    Yeah – that makes a lot of sense.

    What a bunch of hypocrites.

    September 8, 2011 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  12. carlos mendez

    The president have never listen to the American people. Why should the American people have to listen to the same old lies he been saying since he got elected. I am so sick and tired of his nonsense lies and stupidity. He simply doesn't know what on earth he is doing. If he had known anything at all the country wouldn't have been in such a crisis as it is now. I will not listen to him not even another words coming out of his mouth for it is nothing but toxic....

    September 8, 2011 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  13. native new yorker

    I'd like to add to my previous post – that the more the GOP acts out, the more I want to vote for Obama, despite being deeply disappointed in him. OBAMA 2012!

    September 8, 2011 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  14. jamison

    Those that don't show up need to get out of politics if they are not going to support ANYTHING that needs to be done to get the country rolling again. GOP = a bunch of inconsiderate, rude bigoted, children and should all be voted out of office.

    September 8, 2011 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  15. Jim in San Mateo

    This is the very reason that EIGHT-TWO PERCENT OF THE PUBLIC DISAPPROVE OF CONGRESS. They have no respect for anyone. Everyone in this country who can vote, must vote this time and put the people back in power, not those who put money before country.

    September 8, 2011 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  16. Linda

    To Jennifer who wrote much earlier today
    She asks why Obama failed in the first two years when he had the majority? He did NOT fail! He passed a much needed health care reform bill- even though the paid spokespersons for health insurance companies, The Republicans and Tea Partierds, that want to continue to make huge profits and be able to throw people off any time they really get sick, try to tell you Obama's health care reform is bad. It is good-it will protect people. It will improve health care for everyone and just like car insurance, it will be something that people must buy but it will cost less , and low income will be helped to buy it . Everyone will have health care – not just the wealthy few who can afford it or those. like these Republicans who are getting theirs paid by WE THE TAXPAYER. but who want to get rid of the reform and medicaid and medicare – everything that helps people . Lots of people . They lie, cheat, whine, blame Obama when his health care reform is one of the best ways to cut the debt and reduce the deficits. That is why Romney's state has it and it is working well for folks there. Please, my friends, read the truth – don't just listen to all of the lies of these people. They are being paid by us to work for America and all they do is work for themselves and their wealthy benefactors. Many tea partiers were elected only because the right wing billionaire brothers the Kochs put so much money into anti every other candidate ads ! Do not be brainwashed by their lies even if you do hear them over and over again just because the people who won them have the money to buy all of that airtime. Just start taxing those airtime buys and we could probably pay down the deficit quickly.

    September 8, 2011 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  17. Tom

    This is NOT about a 'scheduling conflict' or even a protest. This is out and out disrespect to the office of the President of The United States. You may not like 'the man'. But you must respect 'the office' for which he stands. These toads intend to collect a paycheck, I am sure. Then DO THE DAMN JOB you are elected to do!!!!!!!!!!! It is ultimately the people who you represent that should 'send you packing'!!!! You disrespect them as well!!! And you have the cajones to question why the American people hold you in such low esteem.............

    September 8, 2011 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  18. TAM/otlset

    See? That's all Obama knows how to do - ask for more and yet more money. He did exactly the same with stimulus 1, promising all the millions of "shovel-ready" jobs that would be created, remember? It was a lie, there were no shovel-ready jobs, as he himself admitted recently.

    Now he comes asking for more, for the same reason - "shovel-ready" jobs! Liar! Fool us once - shame on Obama. Fool us twice - shame on us! How can anybody believe anything this liar says? There sure a lot of gullible people out there in liberal entitlement land who keep falling for this guy's con games.

    September 8, 2011 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  19. TamarS

    what amazes me is that Congress and Senate members don't talk about the role of the broke and corrupt banking system that won't fund new businesses. they like to keep that under their robes and out of the public eye. if they would ATTEND things instead of self-serving their own campaign they might get some workj done for us. Anyone who sits out and doesn't treat the President with respect should be voted out at the very next opportunity. they act like crude children.

    September 8, 2011 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  20. Brian

    Shoot, the entire GOP may as well sit this one out. They can say NO over the phone, in fact with an auto recording. They are a disgrace.

    September 8, 2011 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  21. marianne

    Shame on the Congress people who are disrespecting the office of the President. What are they teaching the young people about the need to respect the office of the President. I'm not a big Obama fan, but I am a big fan of the U.S.A. and the GOP and haters need to STOP and start acting like they care if this democracy makes it...I'm sick of the hate-disrespect-evil mongers...enough to vote for Obama...which I had not planned on doing.

    September 8, 2011 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  22. Holly

    Jim DeMint is a joke, a loser, a user, and a self-coined 'leader'. His state is in shambles, has been under his watch for a very long time – yet he pretends to be a god-chosen leader of the people. He is a con man in every sense of the word.

    September 8, 2011 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  23. marianne

    @Lou....you are nuts, Obama has been crucified by the GOP and never given any backup or encouragement from them.

    September 8, 2011 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  24. Tex71

    Protesting before the speech is so expressive of the new GOP: obstructionism regardless of the proposal on the table. Their goal is to sink the economy so low that Americans will accept any kind of economic slavery to avoid starving. Rick Perry even said something to that effect last night! Republicans have become absolutely shameless in their greedy, unpatriotic gluttonous lust for consuming their own countrymen and -women for profit. Any Republicans who call themselves Christians need to look into what the Bible says about those who consume the homes of widows and orphans, and who grow fat from causing hardship to others.

    September 8, 2011 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  25. Mr. Wilson

    Rep. Joe Wilson of Illinois won't be there, saying that he will be meeting with "small business owners" in his district. In other words, the President's speech is impeding his poker game with his buddies. No wonder he can't pay child support. He's probably losing too much to the "small business owners".

    September 8, 2011 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
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