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. Huh

    So Louisiana Sen. David Vitter is flying home on a Thursday (the middle of the work week that only began on Wednesday) ... to watch a football game? He doesn't even pretend to work, most slackers like him at least go through the motions.

    September 8, 2011 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  2. Leroy

    I hope the voters take note of these lazy-ass GOPee'rs who disrespect the Office of President of the United States!

    September 8, 2011 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  3. Me

    How Rude! The PRESIDENT was so humble and made changes in his agenda. It is not doubt that he has put this country first. I am glad the 2012 is near. It is one more reason why I will not even consider voting for a party that has not values. The main goal of the GOP is to win politically without caring for this nation. What a shame!

    September 8, 2011 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  4. steve

    If the Dems had done this during the Bush administration, the GOP would have called it treason.

    September 8, 2011 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  5. BMnVA

    If this behavior occurred between 2001-2008, these members of Congress would be derided for being 'unpatriotic' and 'un-American' for disrespecting the office of the President. When did this become acceptable? What's changed since then? Think about that this Sunday.

    September 8, 2011 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  6. Leslie

    Republicans ...... What Big Babies!!! They are showing their true colors!!!!!!!! They know Pres. Obama is going to have a good Jobs Plan and they can't handle it!!!!!

    September 8, 2011 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  7. Ed

    If I didn't have to I wouldn't show up to hear the same thing over and over again give me more money that I don't have to spend where it will not do any good.

    I look around and don't see one bit of good from the billions he has spent already except larger government and higher debt than any other President in our History.

    We can't afford four more years of spending what you don't have period.

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

    I just wait for the time, in the far far future when there should be a republican president again.
    And then I will laugh when that pres gets no respect from the public, no respect from democrats or voters. Because the Damn-uplicans are setting the tone right now. Great examples of how to show disrespect. Fine patriots. You should be ashamed of yourself. But, just wait, it will come to haunt you. Amen to that.

    September 8, 2011 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  9. ggwindsor

    if you are a senator or in congress one term, do you get health care and pension for life

    September 8, 2011 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  10. AK_steve

    Grow up you whining bunch of spoiled brats. Whaaa!!

    September 8, 2011 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  11. Roland

    It's part of their jobs to show up for such governmental meetings. Dey got no respect. Fire da bums!

    September 8, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  12. Bisqueen23

    I can understand the Congressmen having to deal with flooding or a sick mother, but a football game???? I am from Lafayette, Louisiana and I promise you everyone here will be watching the Saints tonight, but Senator Vitter your job is to represent us and whether you like the President or not, it is YOUR JOB to be present for this speech. I am ashamed that Senator Vitter would use our beloved Saints as cover for not doing his job. There are men and women in this country who would love to have a job so they could afford to throw a Saints party. You are paid by the people of the State of Louisiana to do a job for us, not to throw football parities and insult the President of the United States. Shame on you. I didn't think you could sink any lower. Obviously, I was wrong.

    September 8, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  13. Real Patriot

    Childless, Disrespectful and Unpatriotic.

    And these folks want the American People to believe they really want to work together for solutions?

    They are nothing but obstructionists....in 2 years they will be on top of the trash heap of history.

    September 8, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  14. peter

    What the point to listen his bla-bla-bla-.Speach and speach. Nothing else. I vote for him on 2008, but his change worse than before.

    September 8, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  15. Elaine

    There is no excuse for Republicans not to show up, even if they don't want to be there.They owe it to the public.I think that their behavior is classless, and demonstrates a lack of character and good faith in dealing with the country's problems.John Boehner's statement earlier today that " people shouldn't be forced to listen to some politician" was reprehensible and divisive.He is the Speaker of The House , and should have better judgment and control.They have all been nothing but thorns and obstacles, and I hope that they all get voted out of office .

    September 8, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  16. Me

    Then they should be FIRED! This is their JOB!!!!! I'm sick to DEATH of Republicans, Obama has bent over backwards for these POS and this is what they do, they act like CHILDREN >:{

    September 8, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  17. Florida Joe

    Just think of what these Repubs would have said if a Democrat had done this while Bush was President. The people are paying you clowns to do your job this should be part of it....Unreal how these Repubs already disagree with everything our President even BEFORE he gives the speech.........Pathetic bunch they are

    September 8, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  18. California Conservative

    The arrogance of Obama is simply astounding.

    September 8, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  19. 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.

    September 8, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  20. Dave - Midwest

    To Annie, Atlanta...you are right on. I used to be a Middle-class republican...now a lower-class independent. Not a liberal by any means. I cannot tolerate what happened to my old party. There was always a sense of what was right, by the people 15 years ago. Republicans were not always right but always marched forward without hurting the masses. And we used to define "respect". Now the GOP seems to stand for bigotry and winning at any cost. I remember hearing a quote by a prominent GOP leader during the Florida election sham of 2000, "...this is street fight." How damning is that to a political party? I gave up on the party but not my country. But it seems that the GOP is giving up on both the people and our country. Just as long as they win!

    September 8, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  21. Guero

    These Republican congressmen have the same respect for the President as they do for the American middle class.

    September 8, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  22. carly

    Obstruction, obstruction, obstruction and nothing else. All right wing republicans must be kicked out in 2012 otherwise this country will never recover.

    September 8, 2011 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  23. BRCLMTY

    When did it become acceptable to publicly insult the President? When we elected an African-American one, that's when. I expect we'll have another public disgrace such as the "You Lie!" shout from the benighted Joe Wilson.

    September 8, 2011 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  24. Rickster

    I don't know why anybody would watch President Failure read us another fairy tale off of the teleprompter. He is the most irrelevant person on the entire political scene.

    September 8, 2011 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  25. George

    I think that it is disrespectful for the Republicans not to attend or listen to the Presidents speech. HOW DISRESPECTFUL

    September 8, 2011 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
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