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. hope

    Question: When Joe Walsh or any one of the other 5 child says I don't want to go to school today because I don't like my teacher, dad will just say, no problem stay home and play with your x box. This is a principal that is being taught in the home. Mr. Walsh, if you don't want to work at the job you were elected to, how about a night job to get money to pay your back child support or your campaign staff that have you in court for back wages. The people in your district deserve better.
    It is a disgrace that the office of the president is so disrespected. we the adults, must set by example.

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

    Hey, Repubs, here's an idea: If you hate your job of representing your constituents so much, if you hate government so much, if you are just "too tired" to show up at work anymore,


    I'm sure there are plenty of hardworking, decent people (read: Democrats and non-loony Republicans – yes there are a few still out there) who would love to take your job, and enjoy your lifelong health insurance and retirement.

    September 8, 2011 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  3. Tom from Ohio

    And you wonder why Americans are so fed up with the immaturity of Congress. Americans want this bi-partisan fighting to stop. Put that energy into working together to resolve the economic issues we are all facing, especially the middle class people. If I were a current member of Congress (both parties) I would be really worried about not being re-elected. No one has much faith or trust in any of you.

    September 8, 2011 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  4. Dan

    I'm not impressed with his lack of forceful leadership, but he's our elected President until 2012. If I could vote in the congressional districts/states where these dissident representatives/senators are, I'd vote-no, I'd give money AND vote to send them home for good. If you can't show respect for the people's elected leader, you don't respect our institutions enough to represent us. Stay home jerks!

    September 8, 2011 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  5. Double R

    America has become the laughing stock of the world. You call yourselves the greatest nation in the world.....greatest how? By having complete and utter disregard for your President? For having such little respect for a President who has been trying to do the right thing but having the GOP's thinking only of themselves and not the people? I've never seen such self centered, egotistical baffoons in all my life. A football game......are you serious?? Certainly shows the interest you have in putting your constituents first. You remember them, don't you? The ones that are paying for you and your croonies to sit around and watch the football game??? What an absolute farce.

    September 8, 2011 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  6. Civility please

    I am a Conservative and truly wish the Republicans would rise above this silliness and show up for the speech. THEN when said speech is found to be another plate of warmed leftovers, you will have earned my attention. Boycotting the speech does nothing to prove the point that Obama, Pelois and Reid have messed things up badly for this country. For those of us who are Conservatives, do you remember how we felt when all of the State Reps in Wisconsin fled Madison to Illinois in protest? For those Dems who think the few Repbulicans who are sitting it out tonight have it wrong now, did you feel the same during the Wisconsin Debacle? Examine your conciences. Our reps need to do the job for which they are paid to do. That includes staying to help clean up the mess.

    September 8, 2011 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  7. BeStill

    Only the true believers and servants of God know what is happening. God uses certain people do his work. President Obama is one of them. He also uses others to put his words to task. They are the others who are opposing his work.

    President Obama has been put to the task since day one just as the others have been opposing his work since that first day. If you are truly a Christian then you should see this through your spiritual eyes and not your physical ones. President Obama you will continue to be strong because the half have not be told or seen.

    Love and Peace to you and your family

    September 8, 2011 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  8. educateurself

    Forrgive the typos please broke keyboard on this phone... until the american people yield to low wages and no benefits corporations will never bring jobs back period they hve been shipped to India and China long before this Pres took office so save the fake outrage bout corps being blocked by this admin...corps are seeing the biggest profits in history right now if a bus can get the job done with cheap labor and get fat tax break to boot oh they will do it why hire 10 guys when 3 can do the job come on now common sense! Corps r not american they r the home grown terroist common

    September 8, 2011 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  9. PK

    Haha they just want to watch football and are hiding behind "making a political statement" to do so...

    September 8, 2011 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  10. asdf

    Can't blame them. Nobody wants to hear Jimmy Obama Carter the Ivory Tower incompetent talk about the change we can believe in hasn't occurred. Yes Republicans are still the party of evil but unlike with Clinton they seem to have been able to quite effectively neuter Obama.

    September 8, 2011 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  11. Utah Gary

    In the words of the great American philosopher, Gomer Pyle, "...Shame, shame, shame....". Regardless of how they may feel about his politics, he is still the President and based solely on that fact these clowns should be there.

    September 8, 2011 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  12. NVa Native

    Is this what Americans want from their Congress – to disrespect the office of the President of the United States because the President has a different opinion than they do?? To vote NO on anything and everything the President puts forward – even if it is an idea they previously supported and in some cases it’s their idea.
    These arrogant Repubs need to be voted out. Many in America disagreed with Bush and many other Presidents in the past – but they did not openly try to embarrass or degrade him as the Repubs do so blatantly and with such shallow pride. Disgusting.

    September 8, 2011 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  13. todd in DC

    You know, "Really", this is the POTUS we are talking about. He sets the schedule. You remember when Shrub invaded Iraq for no reason and he said that if anyone criticized him they were anti American and disrepectful of the Presidency? Sure you do.

    September 8, 2011 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  14. nobody

    None of this should surprise anyone. The GOP has made it their vocation to sit on their hands for the past 3 years and especially since taking the house 8 months ago. Their strategy is simple, economy good=Obama reelection, economy bad=Obama defeat. It is shameful that the GOP are Republicans first and Americans second placing party before country.

    September 8, 2011 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  15. RobertFTL

    It's pretty ironic when Republicans are saying President Obama is using the same failed policies when in actuality they worked. The GOP for the past 10+ years has been insisting on the same failed polices that got us into this mess. We have 10 years of data to prove that deregulating and tax cuts for the wealthy don't spur the economy. Forget about the fact that Republicans will not work with the president because they don't want the economy to turnaround while President Obama is still in office. Republicans main concern is making President Obama a one term president.

    September 8, 2011 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  16. Socalgal

    Ironically, if Congress had from the start laid down and given his royal heiny everything he wanted [from the start], we'd been able to impeach him already and be on the road to a common sense Oval Office holder.

    September 8, 2011 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  17. Balant disprect

    GOPers are attempting and succeeding in dividing this country. Anyone who voted/votes these people into office should take note, they are not out to represent you. They are simply creating hatred and discontentment and are hoping they can manipulate enough "followers" into voting in a president of their racial preference. Wake up people! GOPers don't care about anyone outside their immediate circle, if they did, they would forfit all the governmenal benefits they receive...the same one's they're doing everything in their power to prevent you from having!

    September 8, 2011 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    Im not for Obama, but for God's sake GOP do you job and listen then respond. What in the hell is wrong with you people. This is our nation at stake here.. The only disdain i hold greater than for our poor obstructed president is for members of Congress, mostly the GOP. Grow up and go to the speech you morons. If this is the best we have a choice for in the coming election God help us. Our choice is a disenfranchised president who can't for won't govern, or these GOP morons who's main goal is to defeat him. Not fix the problems,, just defeat him. I'll be listening and hoping he'll deliver more meat than these moronic GOP candidates did last night.

    September 8, 2011 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  19. kerry

    Obama seems to be a lame duck president, at this point.. I'm a Ron Paul guy, but I find it offensive that these guys are skipping the address.. Protest on your own time.. You were "hired" by your constituents to do your job.. So do it.. This is childish behavior, and lazy politics.. The GOP blame Obama for everything, but he inherited this mess, he didn't help create it! The GOP did.. I'm sick of politicians playing the blame game.. I'm sick of the media dictating which candidates we should take serious.. I'm sick of big business being in the pocket of the people who make all the decisions for us.. Obama wanted change when he went into office, but once he got there, he realized he was just another puppet for the corporate giants, and the Fed...

    September 8, 2011 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  20. Bob

    Pretty much shows they don't care about America or democracy. But then I knew that. They are not disrespecting the President of the Democrats they are disrespecting America and Americans.

    September 8, 2011 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  21. angel2

    Sen. Vitter of Louisiana states that he is having a Saints football game party at his home and absolutely won't miss it to attend the President's speech. Aside from being totally disrespectful to the office of the President of the United States, aren't the citizens of Louisiana paying him to do a job?

    September 8, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  22. Oregon calling

    It's times like this that I am glad that I live in Oregon where we have Dems representing us. Childish indeed.

    Peace πŸ™‚

    September 8, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  23. JM

    The same GOPers sitting out wouldn't happen to be part of the party that complained when the POTUS went on a "vacation" to Martha's Vineyard? And by "vacation", I mean he was still working but from a "vacation" spot. Will these GOP hacks be typing out job growth plans from their couch? Doubt it.

    September 8, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  24. Bob

    OK Democrats next time your have control of the house, senate and White House DO SOMETHING! You could have taxed the Rich, made E-Verify manatory nationwide, pass YOUR health care bill, stopped out sourcing, taken away tax loopholes, and tax break for big oil BUT you did NOTHING...................Me I would throw out BOTH parties incumbents and start over.

    September 8, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  25. beth

    ..just imagine if democratic congressmen would do this during a Republican president's speech..

    we would be hearing how unpatriotic, disrespectful, hateful, they are..

    September 8, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
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