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. AEK

    I thought the speech was rescheduled to accommodate the Republicans? Disrespectful, unbelievably disrespectful! With that anyone really surprised?

    September 8, 2011 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  2. George

    The arrogance of the Republicans, their complete lack of concern for middle class Americans who are suffering is sometimes too much to bear. They say into the face of the unemployed that they are going home to watch a ball game and have a party. That is so nice they can afford to do that.

    September 8, 2011 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  3. Downside

    If republican voters elected these people to have their voice heard then how can it be heard when their represenatives find personal pleasures more important than the voters? Sucks to be the GOP.

    September 8, 2011 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  4. educateurself

    So wht it was schedule the same nite as the ddummy debate?? Its tonight because again the Pres yields ... I'M SICK OF repubs phony outrage they hve nothing new to offerr but the same ole bad meal tax cuts for the rich who do not create jobs fake outrage about unacted regulations fake outrage bout corp tax rates saying 35% on paper but in reality with all the loopphole equal 0-13% taxes are the lowest n US history the reppubs are the cause of the prob and road block to recovey u say the stim failed well it produced jobs and nothin u hve done since u been elected has produced one not one piece of legislation on jobs American please educcate urselves repubs cut frm teachers and the schools for a reason to keep u dumb and oblivious stimulis would hve worked better if repub governers had enacted the infrastructure and rail projects people wud be working and spending right now! And the stim wasn't bigt enought just like the proposals in this speach are not big enough!

    September 8, 2011 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  5. ThinkAgain

    California Conservative: "Just another speech. Same ole same ole. YAWN."

    At least OUR President is actually trying to do his job. YOUR party is filled with obstructionist whiners who are putting party before country, actively thwarting the will of the American people who voted for a Democratic President, House and Senate in 2008.

    Just exactly HOW do all you Repub sleep at night, knowing that your failed policies got us into this mess and your continued childish, selfish, destructive words and actions are hindering us from getting out of it?

    September 8, 2011 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  6. Dan Bronchetti

    When my boss called a special meeting and I did not attend not only did I receive a reprimand but also did not get paid. Cut their pay for that day and out of respect for our (everybody's) President , the Speaker should at least issue a verbal reprimand to each absentee.

    September 8, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  7. Jack

    Democrats in Congress have always shown up for a Republican presidential speech whether they like him or not. This is what grown-ups do. Sometimes we do things we're not crazy about but we do them because it's good manners. I hope these 5 decide not to come back at at all. You obviously were not raised properly and should not hang around with the adults.

    September 8, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  8. David

    Republican first, American second...ridiculous.

    It is high time we started putting country over petty politics.

    September 8, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  9. ALAN J

    This Country has sunk into an abyss when people Elect fools like these and call them Statesmen!!!!! A perv Senator who buys prostitutes and keeps getting re-elected anyway there's something wrong with LA and him. This DEADBEAT jerk Walsh who is an embarrassment to his ex and his kids and yet they elect him a Congressman. I guess Bozo the Clown could get elected in this country now. Screw all of the GOP Mr. President to it to the People and keep it moving!

    September 8, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  10. Ginette/Mexico

    How about calling it an act of childishness?

    September 8, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  11. RonC

    For you TeaBags and Repubs out there, 2012 cannot come quickly enough to vote them out. Am sure the Koch brother's will graciously give miillions to their Campaign and keep everyone that watches Faux News and listen's to rightwing Radio Hosts, will have their earfull of untruth's.

    September 8, 2011 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  12. Kylene

    what I don't understand is that the Repukelicans won't raise taxes on the rich because it will stop job growth. well, there has been no job growth without those "taxes", so now why is it Obamas job to come up with job growth that the rich are providing (NOT) because they received tax breaks? why don't reporters ask this question, the republican s won't tax the rich because it will hurt job growth, okay, then why is there no job growth?

    September 8, 2011 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  13. Andrew

    Just goes to show what childish wankers the GOP are.

    September 8, 2011 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  14. dragonfly

    The GOP who make this decision are a bunch of CLOWNS and FOOLS! Who cares if they stay home they have NOTHING to contribute anyway.

    September 8, 2011 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  15. Alex

    I am tired of the republican party just trying to do what is best for them. I am switching parties this year. They need to learn that they are representing me not their own interest.

    September 8, 2011 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  16. ThinkAgain

    "This Congress is headed for single-digit approval ratings! Mark my words."

    It's all part of the Repub plan: They want folks to hate government so much they vote to get rid of it by voting for people who want to destroy it.

    Why? So all the services that create and maintain our civil society will be privatized. Then we'll all be at the mercy of corporate profits and shareholder earnings.

    Your house catches fire? Well, it costs too much to save it – sorry!

    You want to educate your children? Well, if you were worthy anything as a human being, you'd be wealthy enough to afford to send your kids to a private school.

    You like drinkable water and breathable air? Can't afford the user fee? Here's a warehouse you can go to die in after you've come down with cancer.

    Complaining about the potholes? Sorry about that; the company that took over after the last company went bankrupt just went bankrupt. Don't worry though; the market always corrects itself in about 100 years I'm sure some corporation will come along and know how to keep the streets in working order.

    September 8, 2011 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  17. 46th Pres

    Oh, by the way , they forgot to mention Alcee Hastings , a Democrat from Florida who will be attending his 75th birthday party instead of sitting in on the speech, and apparently Laura Richardson also a Democrat will be at a fundraiser of hers in lieu of the speech.

    Where is the CNN coverage of the missing Democrats?

    September 8, 2011 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  18. Downside

    I find it hard to admit but I respect Speaker Boehner for doing the right thing. Ok, I said it now slap me!

    September 8, 2011 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  19. George

    I'm an old man, and never in my life have I seen the Republican Party so out of touch with the people. The party seems to be on the brink of extinction were it not for the millions of dollars cash money that is fed to them by the wealthy and corporate interests. They were able to steal a presidential election, bankrupt the country, and kill or maim thousands of our young people in uniform. I sincerely hope the people can see what that party stands for and stop being duped by their lies. They need to be voted out in their entirety and relegated to the history books. This is not 1860, this is the 21st century.

    September 8, 2011 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  20. ThinkAgain

    Repubs are always spouting how they are the party of "values."

    Just what "value" are they demonstrating by disrespecting the leader of the Free World?

    September 8, 2011 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  21. Kylene

    @Kate – you are so right – it is like the KKK, but they are not wearing their robes – scaryy group of good ol' boys club – they are determined, no matter how stupid it makes them look, to oust President Obama – really they are scary – and I thought Dick Cheney was scary – does he have a training camp no one knows about?

    September 8, 2011 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  22. KathyC in Minnesota

    The ARROGANCE of the GOP goes beyond politics. Congressional Republicans were already AGAINST Obama from the day he beat John McCain. What did Obama do afterwards? Gave a dinner in honor of McCain for his Service not only in uniform, but for his service in the Public forum. THAT is respect!

    There will be a reckoning come 2012. Anyone stupid enough to vote for a Republican need to have their heads examined, but then the scan will show NOTHING!! Republicans have offered NOTHING on JOBS other than m ore TAX CUTS, wanting to make Medicare a Voucher system, and cut spending so much that Government cannot function.

    September 8, 2011 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  23. ThinkAgain

    The Repubs are nothing more than a bunch of insolent children. If I had EVER acted this way toward my employer, I would have been canned so fast it would make my head spin!

    September 8, 2011 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  24. hannah01

    This action by these congressmen is reprehensible.! What's this crap about going/staying home to listen/talk to their constituents? That's what they should've been doing all along! What a bunch of big babies! Act like the representatives that your constituents voted, for whether you agree with the POTUS or not. You're a bunch of sniveling racists and I can't wait until the bunch of you are voted out. 2012 can't come soon enough. I don't recall Bush being treated so poorly by Democrats when he called a joint session and God knows that would've been the time to do it. Man up you cowards!!

    September 8, 2011 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  25. Menace

    Don't be fooled Walsh is meeting with his lawyer on how to avoid paying the child support he owes.

    September 8, 2011 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
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