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. Shannon

    Poor David Vitter is mad he has to stay in DC and do his job. He's having a party, and he's paid for the prostitutes already and everything,I'm sure he'll reschedule, but he has to check his wife's schedule first.

    September 8, 2011 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  2. skarphace

    @Lou: "Obama has been treated like a King compared to the way Bush was bashed for years so get over it."

    If you truly believe that, you have had the white sheet over your eyes the past three years. Why don't you act like a true 'good old boy' and cut some eyeslits in that sheet so you can at least see reality a bit.

    Let me give you an example: could you ever have imagined Bush having to show his 'long-form birth certificate' to prove he was eligible for the job 2 years into that job? No. Anyone recomending that would have been laughed out of America. However, racist Republicans who recommended that Obama do the same were actually given credence. This is just one example of the BS that our President has had to put up with these three years.

    September 8, 2011 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  3. Progressive Veteran

    The GOP simply does not care to provide any support for any plan but their own. They have as a group been the largest contributor to our nation recovering. A leader can only lead when someone or a group is interested in following so to blame Obama for not being a good leader is disgusting and in keeping with the finest tradition of Republican principles or apsolute lack there of. They are bad even for themselves and do NOT care about America.

    September 8, 2011 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  4. Mary

    Combining tea party ignorance and republican obstructionism is resulting in an America headed down the tubes. If We the People want to put a stop to it, WE have to do something. Call your republican/tea party congressman and tell him it is time he starts doing his job, or you will be sure to see to he is out of one come 2012. They assume we are too stupid and won't remember how they have behaved come election time. Time for a wake-up call for all of them.

    September 8, 2011 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  5. gp

    I will be voting for the first time. I am sure now that I will not vote for any Republicans. I was hoping that these incompetents will truly work for the sake of the country and not their interest at least at this critical point. I have not heard anything postive and postive from these guys.

    September 8, 2011 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  6. A hardworking citizen

    Lets put this in full perspective. If my boss was having an inspection at my place of work and i chose not to come to work because i was busy watching a football game, i will be relieved of my job immediately. The disrespectful members of congress should face the same fate.

    September 8, 2011 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  7. KO

    The GOP only cares about obstruction, not helping the American people.

    September 8, 2011 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  8. Mama Judy

    If they are not doing their job by going to a important meeting fire them....or dock their pay..... If I didn't go to a meeting at work...they will hire people who will work....

    September 8, 2011 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  9. Bill

    Th republicans claim it is another political speech and they are mad. Ron Paul won't attend because he is on the PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN TRAIL.

    September 8, 2011 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  10. Jose Wan Sekiavich

    I bet if Palin was speaking they would stumble over each other to show up. Of course, it is clear that no one in congress really cares about the economy other than they want it to drop just to try and get rid of the President. Its all politics. I think every congress person should be kicked out (including the tea party nuts).

    September 8, 2011 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  11. Bilbo

    He's a blowhard. Stop talking already and just do something. I'd like to see 2 people stand in front of his teleprompters and see how he fares in his speech. Uh...duh...ummm...redistribution of wealth...stimulus...umm...jobs...err...aah...

    September 8, 2011 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  12. Joyce

    Congressman are elected and paid to do a job....so they need to do it! Boycotting the President's speech is not only an insult against President Obama, but also against the entire US. Republicans don't seem to realize that they are the prime reason for the US's S&P rating being lowered. Once again, they are making the US look foolish in front of the rest of the world!!

    I have always been an independent voter.....I am now a confirmed Democratic voter.

    September 8, 2011 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  13. MarcPDX

    I don't know what progress looks like in a speech. I do know what it looks like in real life. It looks like companies (yes, the evil companies) are hiring, unemployment goes down (as people go back to work for the evil companies that they hate so much), people start buying again (from the evil companies), and the stock market goes up (run by the evil Wall Street). Speeches by anyone in any party are worthless. Results are what matters. For those of you who still can't understand why conservatives don't like Obama (besides that we're all racists... yeah, yeah we already know that) is that he ONLY gives speeches. He doesn't have a plan and he hasn't done anything besides spend money at it. And that hasn't worked. THAT'S what we don't like.

    September 8, 2011 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  14. IVOTE

    Hopefully, the ballot box will make sure these congressmen will not be elected to office next cycle. <ost jobs fire those who don't report for duty.

    September 8, 2011 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  15. TRIandsucceed

    It's gone beyond bigotry and disrespect for the president and the American people – outright treason! They hide behind the election process, lets rally to run these crooks out of DC NOW. Have the national guard escort them out and we'll restore government to where it should be.

    September 8, 2011 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  16. TEA PARTY Mike

    @The Real Tom Paine

    Get off the kick on Republican Govs. taking stimulus money. Even the people of states with Republican Govs. will have to be taxed to pay that borrowed money back someday. That Federal debt is the debt of every American, whether they wanted it our not. And it did not help anyone much, that is why we are still in this mess. If the stumulus had actually done something more than temporarly save some government union jobs, if it had actually done something to actually help grow the private sector we would not be having to listen to another Obama speech tonight. House Republicans will be passing bills that will actually help the private sector grow jobs. Democrats and Obama need to put country first before party and support them.
    I

    September 8, 2011 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  17. Checks and balances

    @A Soldier
    I may not have liked the orders I was given when I served, butI followed them. Under Ronald and George I , we were asked to do the unthinkable, yet we did.

    I commend your service, and you have my utmost respect.

    September 8, 2011 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  18. Jack Be Humble

    If the Republicans stall everything to the 2012 elections (which I am afraid they are going to try), the economy of the whole world will be a LOT worse off. The FY2012 budget for the US government is due September 30th, I can't see any chance of one being passed. The scary part is, there appear to be a LOT of people who WANT things to get worse, rather than to try and make things better. I will vote my conscience in November 2012, and I'm hoping there will be a non-third-world government to vote for.

    September 8, 2011 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  19. ANDREW

    I am democrat by believes but that doesn't mean I will never vote for a republican ever in my life, however, their politics, political games, behavior, hate against Obama, love towards corporate America have made me hate them as much as they hate Obama. I can't stand them or their idiotic opinions etc.

    September 8, 2011 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  20. Norma Williams

    Regardless of their "excuses", this is a blatant display of disrespect and intentionally done to pander to their radical base and the Koch Bros. Boehner's so-called attempt to bring his party in line is also for show. This is the jokester who himself walked out on the President during the debt ceiling debacle, who had the audacity to tell the President "no" when Obama wanted to speak yesterday, who is on the record as stating that he will never support or work with this President on anything. Again, these Tearepukes need to be censured and expelled from Congress! 2012 and a Democrat sweep of both the House and Senate will remedy that. First order of business: get rid of all Tearepukes who disrespected Obama starting with Walsh and ending with Cantor and Boehner!

    September 8, 2011 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  21. bozo

    The GOP will do everything in it's power to defeat obama and that means destroying the country if that's what it takes! They don't care about the citizens, they work only for corporate interests.. power is all that matters to them, and violating their oath of office and committing treason is the least of their heinous crimes!

    September 8, 2011 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  22. Dan

    Typical bunch of cowardly repulicans–Jim DeMint is a bigot and a phony who needs to get his face slapped by the voters and replaced . He and his buddies are the most useless trash in America !

    September 8, 2011 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  23. Donald in CA

    I dont know why the news media even cover these direspectful idiots who dont show up. But ugly sells so i guess thats why they are covered. America seem to be going backwards.

    September 8, 2011 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  24. daphnola

    Raise taxes on anyone making more than 250,000 a year , close ALL CORP
    LOOPHOLES, give them 3 months to either bring all their money hidden in offshore
    tax havens home or they will be triple taxed, and let any tax haven that helps
    them hide it that they will go on our list of ENEMIES of the COUNTRY and be
    treated as such .... Give Corp America 3 months to bring back home all jobs
    they've sent overseas, after that time they will be TAXED the salary of that JOB
    here in AMERICA and every job they have overseas .....From this day forward
    TAXES and TARIFFS will make it CHEAPER to have those jobs here in AMERICA and
    everything cheaper BUILT in AMERICA as well

    September 8, 2011 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  25. James Napoli

    The lack of basic respect for this President is disgraceful. The Repulicans do not want to work with Obama to improve the economy and job situation. Instead they hope things do not imporve or get worse. Failing to show at this speech with all the issues this country faces is the symbol of utter disprepect for the office they hold and the office of President. They are driven by the need for power not the good of the nation.

    September 8, 2011 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
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