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. tony

    If the legislative branch wanted to be the executive branch, they should have been honest and run for the office. And let real honest Americans legislators have their seats in Congress.

    September 8, 2011 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  2. Awww

    They know they wont be coming back to Congress. They HAVE AN approval rating thats 4 times lower than the presidents. So its to Better watch the game

    September 8, 2011 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  3. ReallY!!?

    Hey those of u saying that anyone does not show up should be fired/recall/suspended for dereliction of duty/failing to represent their constituents, did any of you feel that way when the 14 Wisconsin Democrats fled to Chicago to avoid voting & passage of a legislation they did not support? NO? ok then.

    September 8, 2011 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  4. Aaron

    Vitter could be super-busy with some girls for hire lined up to show him a good time while Obama rambles on and on.

    September 8, 2011 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  5. Alex

    I totally support the GOP members boycotting the speech. Why should they allow themselves to be used as pawns in what amounts to a massive campaign commercial?

    September 8, 2011 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  6. Point

    What a surprise, the republicans dont like the presidents plan and they dont even know what it is yet.

    September 8, 2011 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  7. seriously???

    Republicans keep whining about the President's speeches. What exactly, other than speeches and signing bills into law, is a President supposed to do to tackle problems? Give me a single instance where an American president has done otherwise.

    And I agree with a lot of posters here, this President has endured with unprecedented (and unwarranted) disrespect from Republicans... a group which I am proudly no longer a part of and never will be again.

    September 8, 2011 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  8. don

    The GOP is gutless and anti-american if they doen't even listen after crying all summer about Obama not having a plan.

    September 8, 2011 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  9. catmom

    Interesting reading the comments from Republicans saying no need to listen to the President because he is just saying the same old thing. Well, perhaps if at some of those ideas had been implemented, he wouldn't have to repeat his request, right? But more than that, what NEW ideas are Republicans offering? All we have heard from Republicans for the last 30 years is tax cuts and no regulations. How has that worked out for us?

    September 8, 2011 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  10. david

    Time to take back the country from the GOP terrorists. If they want a war...I'm ready to fight.

    September 8, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  11. w l jones

    Congress budget office should deduct one days pay for the AOL law maker and there staff, that will send them the message we taxpayer is sick and tired of people falling down on the job.Bless.

    September 8, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  12. Kira in VA

    Boss: Kira we have a mandatory meeting tomorrow, I need you there.
    Kira: Well, I don't agree with what you are doing in the company even though my idea was voted out by the majority so I am going to have to call in because I have a ball game party to attend and my bathroom flooded so i have to get that fixed. Sorry
    Boss: Okay, do what you have to do but if you don't show up at the meeting you are fired!

    That's how the scenario should go. Since when does the employee start telling the boss what she/he is or isn't going to do?
    The same people that argued about him taking a vacation... while THEY were also taking a vacation... Not back to work for 2 weeks and are already calling in because they are upset with the boss. They should be fired and there jobs should be given to people who deserve a job and benefits that they have.. a bunch of sorry losers

    September 8, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  13. peter

    There really is a way to work together when people want to. How unpatriotic to snub the President of the United States. Obviously, and much to the chagrin of liberals, the president is flexible. How many times has he given in to the GOP? So, he's someone the GOP should find it easy to work with. Yet they choose to snub him. How interesting...

    September 8, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  14. Beverly - NYC

    Yep John Boehner is one fine Speaker. Vedder admits he going home to attend a football party without consequences from him boss, nice. Especiall yafter just coming back from a 5 week vacation. Even when George Bush lied to the nation to get us into needless wars, Democrats afforded him the respect of his office. Maybe Nancy Pelozzi was better at her job as Speaker, such blant dis-respect would not have been tolerated on her watch. God help this nation and the next minority who dares run and gets the Presidency.

    September 8, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  15. Steph

    How utterly disgraceful! Were these folks raised by animals? They don't have the common decency to listen to the President of the United States present his plans to help get Americans back to work??? I call that treason and a good reason to recall these jerks Wisconsin-style!

    September 8, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  16. Rickb

    Hey ReallY!!?
    1. Because he's the President
    2. Because when asked to lead by Republicans, he's doing so tonight
    3. When asked to change the date of the speech by the Speaker, he did so
    4. Because you basically can't stand that he's smarter than you.

    September 8, 2011 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  17. jnpa

    These GOPers disgust me! What are they trying to prove? How ignorant they can be? I have absolutely NO respect for them, personally or professionally!

    September 8, 2011 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  18. Mitch

    This idiot has the nerve to say President Obama does not listen. He is one of the biggest hypocrites in congress along with Dirty Joe Walsh. All during his term, the President has had to put up with this kind of BS. They do anything they can to thwart his initiatives. Speaking of the first stimulus, I bet the prople who got jobs because of it will be listening. Let's make sure when the next congressional election comes around, kick these bustards to the curve. That is where they belong.

    September 8, 2011 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  19. John K.

    @ Sniifit

    "Environment that does not create jobs: Increasing net profits via baseless tax cuts and irresponsible deregulation without any effort to generate concurrent increases in demand. Period. All that results in is consolidation, hording, Wall Street gambling and larger yachts with a golden toilet not only in the master bedroom, but in the guest room as well."

    What???? After reading the above statement, the "incoherent" comes to mind.
    Are your posts to this forum part of a creative writing assignment for your high school GED?

    September 8, 2011 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |

    We already know the GOP response so there's no reason for them to go on the air, they have only one response, NO. No matter what the President says, the GOP says NO. The GOP would rather see the country fail than give the President anything. There's only one answer in the future for the GOP and that's for America to sayd NO to the GOP in 2012, no matter what office, local, state or national, vote NO to the GOP. We Americans have had enough of the GOP games at the expense of the middle class and the country. Send all of the GOP packing, then you'll see our great nation moving forward again.

    September 8, 2011 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  21. TomG

    So Vitter is having a "Saints party"? I think President Obama's opening line should be to thank those members of Congress who attend, then mention those who chose not to attend......followed by "Go Packers!" Or would that be too childish? 🙂

    September 8, 2011 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  22. unretired05

    Yeah, if Obama wanted to work together he wouldn't have forced the single payer healthcare law down our throats. He would have agreed to having private insurers carry the policies and then subsidized the cost with tax dollars like the Republicans and the insurance companies wanted. Oh, wait, he did that. SORRY.

    September 8, 2011 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  23. rta

    thise who do not show and continue to be disrespectful should lose a pay check . I think that it is time for the american people to devise a petition stating that any congressman or senator who continues to act in a disrespectful manner in public to the president or the american public, should not be paid. this nonsense has to stop and the polls of discontent aren't sending the message that needs to be sent. boehner can't control his base and neither can pelosi. mcconnell doesn't care and reid is too weak.. this president was elected period. he is trying to do his job just like millions of others. therefore when the congress doesn't show for meetings, have constituents pay to meet them, continue with unacceptable behavior then they need not be paid or their paychecks be donated to the american people.

    September 8, 2011 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  24. Chris (DC)

    This is the height of petty, pathetic politics. These "elected" officials should be ashamed of themselves and booted from office. With this kind of attitude no wonder we can't get anything done. I won't vote for Pres. Obama, but I also won't disrespect the office and the Constitution everyone in our government is sworn to respect and defend. Shame on them. Even worse, they brag about it. You disrespect Pres. Obama, you disrespect the office even if you don't agree with his policies. Shame on ANYONE from ANY political party that acts like this.

    September 8, 2011 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  25. Maadmax

    For any elected official in Congress to purposely not attend a joint season where the Presidet of our United States has asked to speak does not belong in elected office. he is our President weather you like it or not! So names will be taken and action will be swift come their re-election. What these ignorant Politians have done is show the American people there are two standards, not one to which the constution provides us.

    The biggest problem of all is, not one of them has faced or solved the issue themselves or even brought proposals to the table that can atleast address the problem, they all hide behind their desk and take the first chance they get to attack our President. It's amazing how the so callled "Tea Party" demands more of their attention then the American public as a whole.

    September 8, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
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