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. Jennifer

    "When the boss calls a meeting of importance you show up or lose your job"

    Just a comment here. The President is not the "boss". He is a co-equal with the other two branches of government.

    As for no other president being disrespected like this president, how about the time the Democrats in Congress booed Bush when he was making a speech? Or when Biden said that Bush's policies were "bulls***"? Or when a Democratic Senator suggested Bush was sending troops to Iraq for his entertainment in "watching them get their heads blown off". The list goes on and on. The end result is, if you want respect you have to give respect.

    September 8, 2011 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  2. Ann Marie

    I think that anyone who doesn't show up, it should be noted at the beginning of his speech. He needs to call those people out. And to one comment that he has no class, that is why you don't get him. He brings to the table so much class, intelligence and carries himself with dignity in the face of extraordinary adversity. You'all are used to "good 'ole boys". Good 'ole boys don't cut it as a presence in the world.

    September 8, 2011 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  3. SonnyRey

    Yes, re-elect Obama. And ReallY!!? is unable to think for him/her self – go drink your grape Kool Aide!

    September 8, 2011 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  4. Me

    It's because he's black

    September 8, 2011 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  5. MB Seattle

    How lame of these Republicans to disrespect the President of United States. They have been running for reelection to this office non stop since 2008. They are in it to win it for a narrow group of extream ideas. Shame on them for their unAmerican point of view. We the people. Not we the Republican party. Change your ways or loose your jobs in 2012.

    September 8, 2011 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  6. Audrey/Canada

    I wonder if these Republicans/GOPers understand how poorly the rest of the world looks at this party and how absolutely immature they are behaving. I truly feel a great deal of sympathy for your President. It's amazing that people are complaining that Prez Obama didn't turn around the economy and debt in 2.5 yrs when the Republican gov't took 8 years to get it to this level.

    September 8, 2011 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  7. Sheila

    With regards to having an African American President, these Republicans are just showing their true colors. PREJUDICE!!!
    Since no one wants to come out and say it, REPUBLICANS ARE ALL RACIST!!

    September 8, 2011 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  8. annette

    i really do not care if the repubs show up for the speech or not. they are the ones that are going to lose in the long run. the repubs don't care what obama has to say but i have yet heard what the repubs are doing about job creation.

    September 8, 2011 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  9. Eric

    So the people of Lousiana are paying their senator to sit and watch a football game rather than do his job and represent them before the President?

    September 8, 2011 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  10. Dr.K.

    Childish, arrogant, pathetic.

    Maybe it will at least demonstrate to their constituents that they are not part of any solutions, and they are not worthwhile as representatives. One can only hope...

    September 8, 2011 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  11. Steve in AZ

    Once again, and similiar to the debt ceiling/credit downgrade mess caused by whiny obstructionist tea party types, the anti-thesis of founding fathers building a democracy on civil debate prinicpals is made apparent. As an independent I am usually open to both flawed political parties but will lean my vote in the ballot box to intelligent and collaborative personalities....the new tea party GOP reflects neither.

    September 8, 2011 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  12. RINO Bil

    So at least we know which ones do not believe that putting Americans back to work is important and worth a few minutes of their precious time.

    September 8, 2011 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  13. Chuck

    Not at all patriotic! Voters should send these hyper-partisan slugs packing next election.

    September 8, 2011 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  14. Jeetu

    From their actions, it is clear that the republicans in the house and the senate are not listening to AmeriCan people who have spoken quite clearly that the two parties and the President have to compromise. The evidence so far suggests that teh democrats and the President have compromised over the last three years or so to meet the rpublicans on their terms which has a negative effect on the economy and the confidence in DC and its politics. Now, it is time for the republicans to do what the people are asking and what is best for the country. Not attending President's speech is disrespectful to the country and the instituion of US Presidency. These republicans are only making excuses so that they can assure what they have said since Obama's election to the Presidency: to ensure that he fails even if the price is the killing of the US economy and irrevrsible harm to Ameircans and the US Society.

    I think it is time for the republicans to wake up and act responsibly and in American spirit and save the country by entering into a partnership with the democrats and the President.

    September 8, 2011 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  15. Pedro

    Inbreeding has its consequences. The representative from Georgia is one of them.

    September 8, 2011 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  16. Stacib

    These guys don't know when to stop. Hope all Americans are taking names. Apparently, every day is a vacation. How sad we pay their salaries and set them up for life.

    September 8, 2011 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  17. Retired Army Vet

    I first entered the Army in 1974 and there were still a lot of prejudice commanders in the ranks. A really smart 1st SGT told me you salute the rank if not the man, when asked how do you smartly salute the obvious prejudice commander. Maybe these "distinquished gentlemen" should take that same advice.

    September 8, 2011 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  18. Stacib

    Request an email from moderators telling me why I'm moderated. Honestly don't get it.

    September 8, 2011 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  19. Jon /Texas

    Will David Vitter be at his party wiht his wife or a prostitute?

    September 8, 2011 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  20. David in Houston

    Whether you agrre with his policies or not, he is still the President of the United States. It is childish & disrespectful for these guys not to attend.

    This is what is wrong with Washington today.

    I wish these republicans lived in my district so that I could show my dissatisfaction at the booth next election!

    September 8, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  21. gorddicnn

    The republicans talk a good game but when it comes to listening, advising and working toward a goal they would rather take their ball home since others won't play their way. In the war of congressional losers the republicans are winning hands down. People should remember this on election day.

    September 8, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  22. disgusted

    "Sitting this one out." Nothing new. They (the Republicans) have been AWOL on their duties to this country since Day 1. They have no stomach for making the tough decisions and doing what is right. They cave to the loudest, most ignorant voices among their "constituents" and the rest of us suffer for their cowardice and weakness. Their thinly veiled racism and simple-mindedness are ruining this country. They hide behind a completely fake "patriotism" that turns my stomach.

    September 8, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  23. Tbard

    Ashamed to be have ever been a republican. This is just DISGUSTING. I find it hard to believe what I am seeing in all of these whining – disrespectful – egotistical – so called "resprentatives of the people". Because Obama was elected they are determined to make sure HE fails. They cant be so dense they dont realize making him fail effects our lifes negatively. Oh, ya, I forgot, they could care less about our lives or the country as long as they get their selfish way. HELLO!! Do you think we are all so stupid we dont see beyond the thinly veiled sh*t? I hope the country lasts long enough that I can tell my grand children about this sad time in our history.

    September 8, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  24. chuck

    Bottom line, they are RACIST- Obama needs to be bold and plow thru his plan. ANy GOP er not on board will be left by the wayside. If Americans feel heard they will stand by Obama. PLEASE PLEASE stay strong and assertive Barak!!!!!!!!

    September 8, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  25. nick

    Not surprised. GOPers have NO CLASS!!!!

    September 8, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
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