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. cyndii

    in my place of employment, if my boss calls a meeting then goshdarnit i best be there! how can anyone be so disrespectful of the position of the presidency? tired of speeches? so where is the republicans' plan? you have control of the house so why isn't everything all roses and sunshine? their job is to take every possible measure to make sure nothing this president does happens and at the expense of the nation. i almost feel sorry for these folks and anyone who thinks that they have the peoples' best interest at heart, must be awful to be so miserable and filled to the brim with pure evil and hate. God to help us all....

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

    Well Obama is going to give yet another speech! The GOP should not give the President ammunition and just show up and be polite and courteous. Let the American people figure out that they have voted in an empty suit that loves the sound of his voice.

    September 8, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  3. What a joke

    So the president rescheduled his address so TWO WHOLE house members won't have to sit it out due to the GOP debates. Then after Obama accomodates, even more than that intentionally miss the speech for no good reason what so ever, one to go have a football party.

    "I don't know what's going to be in the President's speech but I don't like it!"

    Nuff said.

    September 8, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  4. glib lib

    Imagine that, republicans in defiance of the president. People are pissed 'cause they say the president hasn't done anything?, how can he do anything? They block his every move, defy his every request, and disrespect him at every turn. This President's ineffectiveness is a direct result of the GOP pouting because a democrat beating them in the last presidential election. These guys will act like children until they get their way. The GOP, once again cutting off their nose to spite their face.

    September 8, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  5. ctrlfreq

    i wonder how long it will be before we rise up against them, like egypt, syria and tunisia. maybe its time for an american autumn.

    September 8, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  6. sky

    I'm 40 yrs old Iraq war vet and I have never seen such disrespect towards an American President in all my years. This is a true testament of the deep seeded hatred going on in America. I'm not going to sugar coat this one bit. This extreme bigotry from Repubs/Tea party towards the first African/Bi-Racial American President is evident. Fine, if you dont agree with the current admins poilicies but to just not show up when he's making an important speech to the country regarding solutions in fixing the economy is simply disgusting.

    September 8, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  7. Mike - PA

    There they are, our politicians hard at work. If I didnt show up to work when my CEO calls a meeting how long would I keep my job?

    September 8, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  8. Getting Sadder by the Minute

    I am a Republican at heart, but am disgusted with all this. Mr. Obama is our President! It is your duty, representatives, to attend this! A house divided cannot stand! Present the people with your good ideas, instead of just pointing out his bad ideas. If your argument is persuasive, he will be out next election, if not we have no one else to blame but ourselves.

    September 8, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  9. rookie

    Vitter's got a room full of hookers back at the Royal Sonesta! why SHOULD he listen to the president (or his wife)?

    September 8, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  10. Clwyd

    Republicans==Party before the People!

    September 8, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  11. Jeff

    In a few short words, disrespectful scum bags not worth any of us taking our time to hear or care what THEY say.

    September 8, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  12. Donald in CA

    These tea party nuts wouldnt show up for the second coming of Chist if they thought he was liberal, which i think he is.

    September 8, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  13. KatR

    Except for the rep whose mother is ill the rest of these jerks should be removed from office. They sure aren't fulfilling their constitutional oath. Betcha my rep shows up in spite of the fact she was shot in the head 8 months ago!

    September 8, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  14. Tina

    This is truly the most immature thing yet that the GOP has done, and there have been more, but this really takes the cake. They are disrespecting the President, and the office of the President period. THe GOP are the arrogant bunch of idiots I have ever seen. They are being childish and pathetic! @ ReallY!!? all due respect you probably don't want to go down the road of playing politics because bush did quit abit of that when he was pretending to play president.

    September 8, 2011 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  15. Barbara

    What disrespect for the Office of the President! Can you imagine if some Democrats had done this to Bush? These people should be sent packing!

    September 8, 2011 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  16. Rev Mkell,

    That's all right guys! You don't need to show up for a speech by the President of the United States, after all he has no standing in this country! But then if his office deserves no respect from his own government then why should other governments show respect for our country! Not to worry guys we might enjoy being part of a third world country, so lead on twits!

    September 8, 2011 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  17. Embarassed in Ga.

    We need a Harry Truman to remind these elected officials that you might not respect Obama, but you had better respect the office of which he sits. Unfortunately, in my state of Georgia, this is the mentality we have to live with. I'm thinking there is a STRONG correlation between the fact we are in the bottom 5 in education in this country and the fact this state votes red. God help us all.

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

    Another step by rogue (I hope they are rogue) Republicans to divide rather than heal this Nation. Shame on them.

    September 8, 2011 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  19. eNVy, The unenviable

    It baffles me to read about the present republicans in the congress. Is that what people expected for electing them? He who hates reap the reward of the hatred. What a way to show the "Love thy neighbor" philosophy. In a nut shell, we have a group which is an embodiment of hatred, bigotry and hypocrisy – call themselves Christians. Shame, shame and shame.

    September 8, 2011 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  20. VT Citizen

    Show up or get out.

    September 8, 2011 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  21. Roger/Kansas

    ANY congressman/woman that boycotts ANY Presidential address to the United States Congress, and/or can’t keep their mouth shut during it, is a traitor and should be drummed out of congress. Their personal feelings about the person and/or their party is completely irrelevant. Blatant disrespect for the office of The President of the United States, in an official capacity, should be an impeachable offense.

    September 8, 2011 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  22. J

    If these congressmen don't want to do their jobs, there are thousands of others that would be willing to do their jobs for a lot less pay.

    September 8, 2011 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  23. Columbus

    Whether or not you agree or disagree with Obama's handling of the economy, this serves only to deepen the divide and political quagmire of Washington. If Obama has any chance of being effective or forcing this government to work for us, he has to be a leader and that may mean getting nasty. It's about time some people in Washington were bitch slapped into reality. It would go a long way in building confidence to move ahead.

    September 8, 2011 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  24. Libertarian

    wow – why not go and listen – they complain he's not "leading" enough so now that he's trying to address the current unemployment issue they aren't even going to listen? It'll be more "goverment is the solution" and "spend (waste) more taxpayer money crap that has been getting us into this mess for the last 30 years, but still, they shouldn't refuse to listen.
    Obama and his policies are killing our country – but the Repubs have been participants and I see no change on either side forthcoming

    September 8, 2011 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  25. LouieD

    It's one thing to be a cretin; it's quite another to know it, be proud of it, and go out of your way to be one. But it's beyond the pale to have this be the entire platform of a political party, as it is for Republicans. At least the more they do it, the more America is reminded that they are truly at fault for obstructing progress, economic recovery, and human decency.

    September 8, 2011 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
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