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. susan

    Vittar should be tarred and feathered -just imagine, his President is calling a very important meeting and he chooses to ignore. He should be fined and then thrown out of Congress. may his constituents remember this next election. I would be outraged if any Congressman from my state of PA elected no not show up because of a football game party. How dare he!!

    September 8, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  2. Aviate

    It's pretty hilarious that these Republicans are complaining about the speech being a political stunt. That pretty much describes anything and everything the Congressional GOP does these days. Remember when they told us they were going to be all about "jobs, jobs, jobs"? What they actually meant to say is that they're about everything but "jobs, jobs, jobs." I guess these profiles in courage can't bear to hear the president call them out to their faces.

    September 8, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  3. Joe YOU LIE Wilson

    I'm not tired of Obama's speeches. I'm tired of the GOP being petty and posturing every time Obama wants them to do something other than moan and cry.

    September 8, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  4. Sock Monkey

    Every time PBo enters the room he is the least qualified person. Why would anyone want to listen to his jibber jabber? His horrendous policies have driven this country into the ground. Why would he start caring about jobs now? News flash – he does not care about jobs. The empty sock wants to transform this country so everyone is equal. This country was based on capitalism and opportunity. He desperately wants European socialism. If you didn't vote for the Chosen One in 2008 – you were branded a racist. If you vote for him in 2012 – you are a complete idiot.

    September 8, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  5. California Conservative

    ThinkAgain – This administration suing the banks will NOT at all bring stability to the economy. Only a true idiot would think it would.

    September 8, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  6. Babs

    Sweet Christ, I hate GOPers. what a bunch of nitwits. I have to wonder if the constituents they're so busy listening to are people who want them out of office. I have a hard time understanding the idea that American's would say "Please do what's right for us by doing nothing constructive".

    September 8, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  7. Rick E.

    Thank you John Boehner for showing respect and decency towards the President of the United States. I could not agree with you more – that despite our differences in political beliefs, Barack Obama is in fact the elected President of the greatest country in the world. I am simply so tired of the political grand-standing that goes on with some politicians. As a moderate, your call to members of the GOP has given me hope in the integrity of our politicians.

    September 8, 2011 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  8. Bill/Indiana

    A deep South representative (Paul Broun) is going to disrespect the office of the President by not attending his speech to a joint session of Congress? How surprising! I hope he clarifies his position. Is it because Obama is black, or because he is of mixed race? Either way, I'm sure he is accurately representing his constituents' lack of respect for the office. Kudos!

    September 8, 2011 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  9. robert.fascia

    I cannot believe all the idiots who have commented in the negative because a few republican congressmen have something better to do than listen to the garbage the "Gangster in Chief" will spew out tonight to promote more class warfare. Obama is no different than a gangster on the street who sticks a gun in your face and demands your money or else. In Obama's case he uses the muscle of the IRS to do the robbery–with the threat of a frozen bank account and jail time if you don't pay up! Then he spreads our money around to the low lifes in order to garner votes-WHO THE HELL DOES HE THINK HE IS FOOLING?? For those who stated that "after all–he's our President–our sad, sick idiots. He may be their President but to a very growing number of patriotic Americans he is a gangster jerk who cannot even cover his own b.s.!!

    September 8, 2011 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  10. jenart

    Dear President Obama,
    As you approach giving your speech this evening on the dire situation with jobs in this country, I would like to add my support for your fortitude in dealing with GOP/Tea Party legislators who have refused to do THEIR JOBS and represent their constituents as they were elected to do. Those who do not show up are those who are NOT DOING THEIR JOBS. They should be voted out of office in 2012. Their petty bickering has put this country in jeopardy. They are showing their true colors and the American Electorate will remember come Election Day. Again, we will sweep Congress, removing all non-functioning Congresspersons as we did in 2008. THE AMERICAN PUBLIC IS READY TO FIRE A FEW CONGRESSMEN who are not doing their jobs for us.

    Those Americans who wish to see our Country move forward have got your back.
    So, Mr. President, hold your head high and give the best speech ever. I look forward to what you are proposing.

    God Bless You and America

    September 8, 2011 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  11. Ed Zumar

    to all who posted here rightfully complaining about this "action" by republicans – simple answer – vote everyone of them out. it's up to you

    September 8, 2011 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  12. mike

    in the 8 months that the "House" majority is Republican, just how many jobs have they created?
    They have already sent most jobs overseas.

    September 8, 2011 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  13. Bill

    Mr. President, in the unlikely event that you're reading this, this is what you get for being bipartisan. That approach will NEVER WORK. The Republicans will simply interpret your efforts as weakness. Now they are being so disrespectful as to blow off a presidential visit to Congress. Be more partisan, damn it! The Republicans would not hate you any more than do already and the Democrats will support you more enthusiastically.

    Why do I feel like I'm talking to a brick wall?

    September 8, 2011 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  14. Aviate

    Of course they're not going to attend–they're much too busy blowing on their dog whistles...

    September 8, 2011 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  15. Steve in SJ

    The demagogues of the GOP right wing have so polarized this nation that even civil war is not inconceivable. They call themselves Americans and patriots? Pathetic! They give lip service to the values that this nation was founded on and use the fear created after 9/11 as their rallying cry. We don't need foreign enemies, they are right here in Congress, obstructing any attempt for change that they did not initiate and disrespecting everyone who disagrees with them. A fine example for our children, they are:( Oh wait...they act just like children!

    September 8, 2011 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  16. Robert

    I can't believe that any senator or representative is too busy or has anything more important that they'd rather be doing than attending the president's job speech. Congress is back in session; it's time to get back to work...for them and the country. It is people like this who give Washington politics a bad name...people who don't listen and reject ideas simply because it's coming from the other party. Listen for a change, then criticize later but do so constructively. God help this country the day the NFL trumps national business...shame on Vitter.

    September 8, 2011 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  17. California Conservative

    Keep playing the racist card libs. It's worked so well so far hasn't it?

    September 8, 2011 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  18. Yucon

    The Pres. gets the same respect he gives to the Republicans. No love here. Though I agree congressmen should be there to hear BOBAMA, because of his title. Not agreeing w/him is something else, just don't clap when he speaks. Beware Dems will show the same respect if a Republican is elected.

    September 8, 2011 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  19. Michael Thompson

    Dear Congress:

    Go the **** to work.

    Oh, and by the way, the president is the leader of the entire nation, no matter who he is. You are a legislator. When he addresses a joint session of the legislature, suck it up and attend.

    September 8, 2011 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  20. maggie

    m, you're absolutely right. This ultimately isn't about Obama, it is about the office itself. And Chuck, well said, brutha. Truly. What job programs has congress offered, other than to cut as many jobs as they can by holding up funding bill after funding bill, bills that routinely pass through irrespective of administration? I would say, zero. And before my conservative friends jump me about the need to stop spending, I would say two things: 1) every economist worth his or her salt who has publicly opined has said that now is not the time to cut spending; even the Europeans who put austerity measures in place are backing off because they realize that all they did was further choke the economy in their economies in the process; and 2) if we need to have the debate, let's have it but not by holding people, places and things hostage. I don't know when such a strategy has ever worked and the Tea Partiers are showboating for their audience, they've also showed their buns to the rest of the country because their approval ratings are literally in the toilet.

    September 8, 2011 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  21. California Conservative

    2009 "sovel ready jobs" = FAIL
    2010 Jobs, Jobs, Jobs = FAIL
    2011 Summer of recovery = FAIL

    Three strikes libs. Obama's OUT

    September 8, 2011 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  22. pat carr

    This is good for us to see now. I am glad the republicans are so stupid and arrogant that they are displaying this behavior well before elections. Shame on anyone who votes for these rapacious clowns

    September 8, 2011 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  23. Jennifer

    "The only reason that Obama can't get much done is because the Congress which is REPUBLICAN CONTROLLED refuses to put partisanship aside and really put in an effort to help us! "

    Really? Then please explain why he failed his first two years in office as well, when he had a Democrat controlled Senate AND Congress. I eagerly await your explanations.

    September 8, 2011 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  24. BENJI

    What a bunch of racist! I'm voting for Obama just to vote AGAINST them!

    September 8, 2011 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  25. Dwayne

    What do you expect from a spoiled child who didn't get the candy bar at the checkout line back in 2008? Kicking and screaming and name calling when the American people realized that the GOP's only desire was to make wealthy people wealthier. Their only goal has been to vote no, insult ,disrespect and do everything they can to get the whitehouse back. Until that happens, expect alot more kicking an screaming and name calling.

    September 8, 2011 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
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