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. john

    Rotten GOP should all loose their jobs for not showing up

    September 8, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  2. Jess C

    I cannot believe the disrespect for the office of President that these yahoo GOP'ers display. It's the worst possible example we could have for young people today. They should be completely ashamed...pathetic, really. This Congress is so out of control and poorly thought of, it's ridiculous. Wish we could dock their pay; they're worthless.

    September 8, 2011 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  3. Michigan_Joe

    When a party "organizes" before a speech by the President, you know they are in trouble. If one would just write down ten good things that the Republicans have ever done for the working middle class American , it might be a difficult task. If you think that the interest of the average American is best reflected in a Republican administration, please state your reasons. I have yet to hear from anyone when these questions are asked. There is something wrong with a party that refuses to hear the needs of their voters. There is something wrong when a party prefers to advance the needs of non humans (corporations) above those of the people. It is a very simple choice, you are either representing humans or you are not, but instead corporations. Do you want the person you voted for to represent you or a corporation?

    September 8, 2011 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  4. Freeman

    Blatant disrespect pure and simple. And worse these racist assholes are proud of it. Bragging about how they're going to diss the President of the United States. Aren't republicans wonderful. Not!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 8, 2011 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  5. Perry Winkle

    Republicans are morally bankrupt.

    September 8, 2011 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  6. peter apaliski

    they are elected but they are not politicians. tact is spelled TACT not TACK so . to make a point they don't have to drive it in.. tactless and rude. no need to question what their agenda is. obama is our president. whether one likes it or not. he deserves the respect he's earned. civility is what you make it. i believe it is possible to rise to the occasion and one day have a spirit of cooperation and achievement. its a shame, the example they are setting. i know the future will be better. i believe it and live it. lets look for people who want to work together. lets listen for that , when its election time again. vote for the truly positive and engaging true politicians. they will show up.

    September 8, 2011 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  7. NYCMovieFan

    Democrats have attended presidential addresses out of respect for the office of the president for decades. I do not recall a single one refusing to uphold their sworn oaths of office by sitting out an address by a president. May be due to bereavement or illness, but for no other reason. By dishonoring the president, these 3 Republicans dishonor us, the people. What are the Republican so-called "leaders" in Congress doing to punish these 3? Particularly the guy sitting in his office pretending to be a teenager – he should be marched in by the Capitol police to take his seat, shamed in front of everyone.

    September 8, 2011 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  8. Patrick

    Republicans protest everything these days. They want this recovery to fail because they think it will benefit them politically. They filibuster everything in the Senate. They are so anti-American that they would do this. Shame on republicans. Almost treasonous what they are doing.

    September 8, 2011 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  9. sick and tired

    I can't believe the audacity of these individuals in Congress. We finally have a president who has the interests of ALL the american in his heart – so much so that he has reached those of us who for years felt the system was just hopeless – we now believe so much is possible if these congressional fools would DO THEIR JOB and work for us! It would really be an eye opener for them if their retirement, health benefits, and perks were cut – and they should be – make them live as we do. Sacrafices baby!

    September 8, 2011 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  10. B

    I cannot believe these Republicans. They are bullies who have no room to criticize when they haven't done a single thing to help this country. What happened to the jobs they campaigned on? Have they done a thing? All they've done since 2008 is to sit down, cross their arms, shut their eyes, and shout NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!

    I'm stunned by the American public as well for giving them any power in 2010 considering their behavior, but there it is. And they have only gotten worse, acting like they've been given some mission from God. I can't believe the disrespect they show President Obama and their refusal to do the jobs for which they were hired. I didn't listen to a lot of President Bush's speeches, but I wasn't elected to help run the country. These idiots were. They are entitled thugs and bullies who don't care about anything but themselves and their rich supporters.

    And I don't want to hear another single word about how the rich shouldn't have increased taxes because it will hurt job creation. WAKE UP! The rich have had their precious tax breaks for years and it hasn't helped create jobs! President Obama caved in and supported extending the cuts, and when – SURPRISE! – it still hasn't created any jobs, *he* gets blamed! These greedy idiots are ruining this country, and when our economy suffers, it does affect the rest of the world. God save us if President Obama is not reelected, or if Republicans gain any more power in Congress. Goodbye middle class, goodbye workers' rights, goodbye elderly, because if you were worried about "death panels" you are in for a real shock with what the Repubs want to do to your few support systems.

    I hope and literally pray that the American people have the good sense to vote these fools out of office next year, although I dread all the venom we will have to listen to in the mean time. The Democrats have their own problems, yes, but at least they actually care about people in need. This all makes me so sick.

    September 8, 2011 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  11. usa8888

    As I thought, Obama has a great jobs plan–a plan that the GOP would usually agree with but not now because the GOP is led by the brain dead t–baggers who want to put one of their insane candidates in power. They know the only way they can do this is by keeping the economy down. Their candidates have no plan for jobs except to drastically cut spending which will cause a depression and cut taxes on the rich, which will not create jobs. Tax rates on the rich are already at 40 years lows and no jobs are being created by the rich. The corporations are doing a good job of moving jobs overseas, however. So the Fox Right Wing News clowns are on this blog criticizing the plan up front.

    September 8, 2011 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  12. Capitol Rotunda Needs A Change - Not the Oval Office

    It is telling that in areas where President Obama has the ability to act without going through Congress he has been enormously successful. For example, his performance in foreign & military affairs is largely unimpeachable. As much as they'd like to attack him for being a wimpy soft democrat that the world's despots thumb their noses at, the GOP can't do it. Somali pirates dead; Osama bin Laden dead; Moammar Kaddafhi chased from power.

    If President Obama didn't have to be hampered by a Congress that is committed to say NO to EVERYTHING; a Congress who has worked against him as early as THREE WEEKS in to his presidency, he'd have cut unemployment even further. The number of jobs started under his tenure would be even bigger.

    Obama is smart, well read, comphrensive, strategic, principled. If he had a "line-item-veto" to strip out bad policy; America would be moving forward and be better off. Instead, we need to give the man a fillibuster-proof & obstructionist-free Congress. Congress will still be able to temper his ideas but they won't be able to STOP them by holding the process hostage.

    Independent voters, America's problem isn't in the Oval Office; it is in the Capitol Rotunda. Vote the TeaPublicans out in 2012.

    September 8, 2011 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  13. john

    Congress is worse than the president.. They are the main obstructionists here

    September 8, 2011 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  14. CalmDog

    Wow, let me get this right. Broun says the President doesn't listen, so in protest, he's What an imbecile. How about he gets off his political ass and does his job. Attendance is part of the job. What an a$$hole.

    September 8, 2011 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  15. Roger

    The GOP hasn't shown up for a long time! How disrespectful to the President of the United States and the country to act in such a childish manner. I am so sick of these tea partiers I could scream. Vote them all out next November. Their radical bigoted views have no place in the dialogue. The Republican party of my parents is not the Republican party anymore and that is a sad thing. Barack Obama is the President and whether you like him or not, show respect for the office he holds.

    September 8, 2011 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  16. Robrob

    "U want 2 talk about disprespect well how about Obama schecduling the speech without consulting Congressional leaders as is required by him to do!" – – When you get done repeating your AM radio talking points, feel free to provide the law you claim requires Obama to do this?

    September 8, 2011 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  17. Bill

    I doubt Obama's (campaign) speech will add anything to what's already been leaked to the media.

    September 8, 2011 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  18. edpeters101

    Would it be too much to ask that members of congress "grow-up"?

    September 8, 2011 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  19. stike1

    Could Jimmy Hoffa be riight. Maybe these yahoos need a good kick in the rump and no we know their ma's did not teach them how to respect their country and respect the Office of the President. When I was in the service there were a lot of officers I didn't particuarly care for but you better damn well better salute the rank. Then again look at the caliber of some of the people. Demint, Vitter (hope he wears more than diapers to his party) , Joe Walsh , the deadbeat dad according to his ex wife. How in the hell does someone like that even get elected.

    September 8, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  20. B

    P.S. – I believe it's Congress that has to do the work on job creation. The President should not be blamed. The ones who campaigned on job creation and have done nothing need to be held responsible. Republicans, I'm looking at you. You have failed at everything.

    September 8, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  21. Michigan_Joe

    We need to take the names of those that don't show up to hear the President's speech, and post those names with pictures in the local newspapers in their districts with the title "We aren't interested in anyone trying to create jobs for people in my district"

    September 8, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  22. jennifer in Houston

    They are rude and ignorant in the extreme. It's quite obvious they care not a jot for the country as a whole but just for their own fat paychecks. I am resolved never to vote republican again.

    September 8, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  23. Socalgal

    HEY...I have a really really really good plan to get Americans back to work and get the economy back to prosperous times, and I'm going to get it started right no..., uh, well, after my campaign bus ride, then I'm really really really going to put it into, right after my 10 day vacation. And then you betcha I'll implement it immed...well right after my next campaign speech [heh heh, you know, the one I made Congress show up for]. If I'm lucky California will fall into the ocean and Texas will burn up and the East will be innundated with floods and hurricanes...who knows, maybe the Arabs will stir up a good thing or two–with all luck I won't have to do a thing! WOW, what a great planner/leader I am! Don't you think this deserves another Nobel?

    September 8, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  24. fastdogz

    In a time when we seem to struggle more than ever to teach our youth respect?? Shameful example our representatives are showing when they have no respect for the leader of our country and to the job for which they were elected!

    I think I speak for many of use when I say: If I decided not to show up to work simply because I disagreed with my boss–there'd soon be a job opening!

    September 8, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  25. Robb

    Note to Republicans: it is time to respect the office of the president. Show up, shut up and listen. Stop playing belligerent politics. This is about OUR nation's welfare. If you can't do this for the American people, then resign. Thank you.

    September 8, 2011 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
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