GOPers speak up, but some won't show up to Thursday speech
September 8th, 2011
12:13 PM ET
11 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 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. once upon a horse

    @ ReallY!!?

    you ever hear the term "You have to GET respect to GIVE respect'? Think about it. (you lie!!)

    September 8, 2011 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  2. JohnRJ08

    Broun, Walsh and DeMint should be compelled to attend this speech. They are not serving their constituents with this juvenile display of recalcitrance. Broun and Walsh are genuine idiots and DeMint is a racist.

    September 8, 2011 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  3. MichaelK

    Maybe we can conviunce the GOP to not show up for the rest of their job. Maybe something will get done, other than obstructinig progress.

    September 8, 2011 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  4. Be Sane

    I could write volumes about what is going on in our country but in the end the explanation is simple.
    Some Americans and the good old white boy fraturity that has always run our country can't stand that a black man with a name that doesn't sound like theirs is the President of the United States. It's not his policies, it's his color. I am ASHAMED that our country has not progressed further. The Republicans have one agenda, make this President fail. They will take our country down in order to do that. If Americans had a lick of sense they would fire them all in November.

    September 8, 2011 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  5. Firing Back

    "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."....
    Should I call my mother...someone needs a new bottle and a diaper........

    September 8, 2011 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  6. rockysfan

    Show of defiance my arse. It's lack of respect for the man and the office, plain and simple. I'm utterly amazed at the rancor the rethugs dish out to the president. The didn't tolerate this garbage when their D student was in the office. Bunch of whiny arse babies they appear to be and I'll tell you what: THE AMERICAN PUBLIC IS FED UP WITH YOUR ANTICS! We will show you come election, just you wait and see.

    September 8, 2011 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  7. Jon in Rochester

    And people wonder why there is no civility in society anymore. Country should come before party!! The GOP doesn't want to hear any idea unless it's more deregulation of corporations and tax cuts for the rich. The tax breaks have been in place since Bush was in office but they haven't created any jobs except in China and India. This speech was rescheduled because of Wednesday night's dog and pony show of a debate. That turned out to be nothing more than an Obama bash festival. Their entire platform consists of just "We want to defeat Obama". The least they can do is show up. These politicians are paid to represent their constituents. Their paychecks and benefits should be withheld.

    September 8, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  8. VA VERY Ex Republican

    ReallY !!? heres my answer to you: Shut your mouth. You talk about respect and civility when they do not even exist in your dictionary. what a joke.

    September 8, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  9. GI Joe

    Let's pay them by the hour - they don't even work 3 days a week when they show up every third week!!

    September 8, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Really? What a shock. The GOP has now gotten so arrogant that they are blatantly disrespecting the White House and our President. They are ridiculous. How much more of this crap does the American public have to tolerate. Congress has just said "we hate that president, and we don't want to play" GROW UP REPUBLICANS!!! Can't wait to see their shocked faces when Obama gets re-elected and they are left wondering what happened? Hate and ignorance can only do so much.

    September 8, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  11. dennis freeman

    Remember the administration official who was caught at a meeting calling Republicans _ _ _ holes? He had to resign, but he really should have received a raise and a bonus.

    September 8, 2011 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  12. NuwanSam

    GOP plan is very simple and clear. Do whatever necessary to make Obama failed even that will bring down this countries economy to a crippling hault. They think that defeating the President of this country and weakening him will make people vote for them in 2012. Now if a American can not see this or is in denial of this fact is, I do not know what to say. As an independent, I do not see any other behaviour coming from Republicans. I hope their tactic would not work and that majority of Americans have some brains to realize their poisonous attitude at a time this country faces great challanges which can only be faced with unity and compromise.

    That said, I do not care if some of these extreamist republicans avoid the speech. This country will be better of without them anyway. I do not know whether Obama's plan is the right thing. But we need to listen. He have had failed policies but at least he is trying to reach out and solve problems. Republicans are only obstructing.

    September 8, 2011 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  13. Matthew Forney

    David Vitter sounds like an idiot! A Saints Football Party? If this doesn't scream irresponsible and somewhat juvenile, then it must scream disrespect to everyone who elected him. I would be fired if my boss knew I called out of work to go to a party. At least be smart enough to make up some important sounding crap like his other co-workers did.

    September 8, 2011 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  14. Dustin

    I am shocked at the level of disrespect!! How childish! People need to grow up and learn to work together... This has gone way to far

    September 8, 2011 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  15. ccastine

    i am pleased to see the overwhelming majority of you have responded accoding – this is childish, disprespectful, ignorant, counter-productive, and insubordinate. They dont need to like the President, or really even respect him. But they had better respect the people they serve, the people that elected them. Sitting on your couch watching a football game?!? You have got to be kidding me. Talking out of both sides of their mouth. They say they are trying to work togethor, and they say they are listening to the people and trying to create jobs – yet they openly state they are going to have a football party instead? If you think anybody would go into the Oval Office and get everything right, your delusional. But Obama has made great progress, and its the GOP that is force-feeding misinformation and more political statements down your throat, and alot of you are believeing it. Gather your heads. Vote for the guy who cares about the democratic process that we stand for. He goes to work everyday like the rest of us.

    September 8, 2011 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  16. George Bush

    This is typical of the Republicants who's only agenda is to take control of the country for their corporate funding greed merchants. Why, if I was president I'd tell them a thing or three. After all, I'm the decider...............I think..............Isn't that right, Dick????

    September 8, 2011 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  17. Lolo

    I am telling you folks, come 2012 vote these indecent human beings out of office. If you ask me they have held their positions too long and want to keep America from growing. This is not the fifties and sixties. We need to change the term limits for these yokels. And they have the nerve to wonder why they are called greedy and racist. They keep talking about overturning President Obamas' policies, what policies, they won't let him do anything. so there is nothing to overturn. You GOP/Tea Partiers are going to pay big time.

    September 8, 2011 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  18. Mike, Albany

    I'm sorry, but the mom and pop small businesses are not going to fix this country's crumbling infrastructure. These are large scale projects that need government oversight. Yes, small businesses need to have an environment in which they can hire, but the majority of jobs will not come from them. This being said, Republicans, in their ongoing quest to ensure that Obama fails, will not want to create a single job before next year's election, and for many who are jobless, that's far too long to remain unemployed.

    September 8, 2011 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  19. logic in LA

    The disrespect shown by the Republican members of Congress is completely unacceptable. Short of a dying relative, there is no reason for one of them to miss a requested address of Congress by the President of the United States. This should be grounds for immediate dismissal from their post. It would be in their always lauded private sector.
    Shame on everyone that is not showing up.

    September 8, 2011 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  20. Joel

    Let me get this straight... Democrats care about the environment, their communities, science, education, the elderly, the sick, and the impoverished. Republicans care about hoarding their wealth, 'spreading democracy' around the world, capital punishment, tax cuts for big corp., and creationism. Wow. It's a head-scratcher. Who to choose...

    September 8, 2011 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  21. gctwnl

    They might not like Obama, but what they do is an act against the institution of the President of the USA as well. Symbolism matters and this way they weaken the very office they so dearly want to hold. By not going they only show the short sightedness of their position. Childish it is not. But respectful it isn't either.

    Scheduling the speech originally on the night of the GOP debate otoh was not a smart move by Obama (or his staff). Still not as bad as staying away.

    September 8, 2011 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  22. Sharman

    President Obama has more intelligence in his little finger than these Republican Yahoos who have no other plan for him or for their country than obstructionism. Republicans are responsible for the Iraq war, the deficit from that war, and the deregulation of Wall Street, all of which led to the Crash. American Working Class, stick with the Prez even if it hurts now. The Rich will never care for you, but I believe you are what makes America great. Don't wait for the rich to give you better schools, go to the public library in your town. Educate yourselves. You can do it. Enroll in your community colleges. Start a free school if you can. Bypass the Rich. President Obama believes in you, and so do I.

    September 8, 2011 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    These Senators and Congressmen who boycott the President's speech should immediately be impeached for derelict of duty. This should go before the Unamerican Committee. These are traitors to the United States of America!

    September 8, 2011 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  24. L Oconnor

    Obama's popularity rating may be low but Congess' is half of what his is. Shame on them for boycotting. Just goes to show you that Washington can't get along and representatives refuse to do the job that their voters elected them to do. America wake up and think about who you are piutting in political office

    September 8, 2011 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  25. George

    Those repuglicans are showing that they will do what ever it takes to get that BLACK man out of their WHITE house. They're pathetic. Obama in 2012!!!!

    September 8, 2011 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
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