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. Colgate

    Republican obstructionists: Ye shall reap what you sow...

    September 8, 2011 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  2. Larry L

    It's ironic that the President, as he tries to clean up the mess the created by "W" and his nest of theives, is being boycotted by the same people (who created the mess) because they believe he "doesn't listen". What would ever posess any Americans to give a rats-@$$ about the opinion of a Republican regarding economics? Look at their record! Duh!

    The Republican Party's plan is really simple... Rich guys give Republican politicians money – the politicians use the bully pulpit to fire-up groups of right-wing, fearful, bigoted, undereducated radicals – then the politicians oppose every initiative to create failure thus rewarding their sugar daddies. It helps when the pundits on hate radio issues a continual stream of lies and over-simplified sound bites to feed the frenzy. This is how the Tea Party was born and why the Koch brothers drink toasts and smoke Cuban cigars to the ignorance of moronic conservatives. Don't you just love it when a good plan comes together?

    September 8, 2011 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  3. Mike - Las Vegas

    Sen. Vitter is just mad that he won't get the deposit back on the prostitutes he had lined up for this "football party." How this lying, corrupt, morally bankrupt scumbag is still serving in the senate is beyond me and reflects how ignorant his voting base is.

    September 8, 2011 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  4. Terry Gloege

    What difference does it make? If they were there they would only be shouting insults and making faces anyway.

    September 8, 2011 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  5. JCQueipo

    OK,OK, the worst speech the VERY WORST speech that Obama ever did... ... is better than seeing W clearing brush in Crawford every three days or W embarrassing the US in front of the world leaders abroad.

    September 8, 2011 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  6. Katz

    This is just another one of Obamas election speechs. Why does he have to have all this just for his jobs? He could of just given to Congress to read. I don't recall him doing this for his stupid healthcare that ruined this country and put all healthcare more expensive! He's a liar and a talker other than that, he's like a blind man trying to catch butterflies, useless!

    September 8, 2011 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  7. Big_D

    The GOP refuses to show up to work. How typical, and you wonder why nothing gets done. They must have some corporate lobbyists to take bribes from at that time.

    September 8, 2011 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  8. shawn

    I think it's highly disrespectful not to show up as a member of Congress to the President's speech. It's okay to disagree, but as a representative to the people you have the obligation to show up. Unfortunately, I fear the constituencies in those states mimic their leaders, so good luck getting these unprofessional jokes out of office. These representatives are truly showing how much they care about their country, that they refuse to work. And it's no surprise that they are part of the Tea Party Express. How many jobs have Tea Party representatives created? That would be an interesting number. Rather than whining about the President, what have you done?

    September 8, 2011 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  9. Evil Hollywood Liberal

    Ridiculous. So Obama moved the speech to accomodate the Republicans, and now some won't show up anyway. It's ok for them to just come out and say they hate Obama. It'll merely confirm what most suspect, and will give many cover to never vote Republican again. PS> Can't wait to show the next Republican president the same 'courtesy'.

    September 8, 2011 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  10. SaintM

    How is it that someone got away with saying "Whose gonna shoot Obama?".

    For all you racist pig, disrespectful republicans, the number of republicans who will put a republican in the white house is outnumbered by women, minority, gay independent voters who I am sure will guarantee another 4 years of President Obama. Unfortunately, slobs like Boehner, Cantor, McConnell and other like-minded repugs will remain in office because 85% of the people in the states that they represent are ignorant and hate our president just like they do. Wake up America, and through these bum losers out of office in 2012.

    September 8, 2011 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  11. Positive

    Anyone who doesn't show up should be thrown out of office for good! I'm so sick of the childish behavior of the GOP.

    September 8, 2011 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  12. Jack

    You're right, "actions speak louder that words" . It's no longer about Democrats or Republicans, it's about AMERICANS as a whole and it's time to throw out "anyone" and "everyone" in Washington who has their "own selfish interests in mind". I honestly believe anyone who simply reacts with partisan politics is driving the nails into their own coffin and "this time" the silent majority in America WILL take appropriate action. Once this is done we should than apply the same pressure to institute "term limits", require everyone in Washington to have the "same health-care" as they rest of America, paid for out of their own pockets and drastically REDUCE their retirement pay!

    September 8, 2011 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  13. SaintM

    I mean "throw" them out in 2012.

    September 8, 2011 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  14. chickal

    Seriously. What else is new? More stupid political games, with CNN breathlessly describing every punch. All of you are wasting our time: Politicians, Media. All of you.

    September 8, 2011 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  15. Dan

    The tea party Republicans not attending are again demonstrating that all that they will do is say "no" to anything that President Obama puts forward.

    September 8, 2011 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  16. CBR

    Wow! The Republicans will not support or work with the President. Gee Mitch McCopnnell has been saying that since the inauguration. Republican will refuse to attend, Personally, I think they should resign their seat in Congress. We did not send them there to be so stubborn.

    Finally, the maturity level of these Republicans is that of a 3rd grader and that might be an insult to third graders. Come on Americans, speak up and stop this tom foolery and demand that they work on the economy and jobs. There is no time to spare. Maybe it is time to start our own Party for people who want our leaders to work together and get the job done, period.

    September 8, 2011 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  17. Lisa P


    Get your facts straight: it was not "the entire Democratic legislature in Wisconsin" it was the Democratic State Senators. We have a bicameral Legislature; the Democratic members of the Assembly stayed right where they were.

    The State Senators were not "refus[ing] to do what is required of them and what they are paid to do"; they were pulling the Wisconsin equivalent of a filibuster - denying a quorum in order to block legislation that they (and their constituents, of which I am one) strongly disagreed with. The Republican minority in the U.S. Senate does the exact some thing with great regularity and for far less reason. If you are not condemning them for their refusal "to do what is required of them and what they are paid to do" - and, coincidentally, what the country desperately needs them to do, which is to find compromises that move our country forward, not to block anything and everything the majority proposes - then I am afraid that you are the hypocrite my dear.

    I commend the Republicans who are refusing to show up for our President's speech for being so up-front and open about their utter close-mindedness. I am also happy that they have chosen to move their usual massive display of disrespect away from the House floor; apparently tweeting during the State of the Union did not produce the intended effect (except to annoy me). I hope their constituents notice *this* time and give every one exactly the response such behavior deserves.

    September 8, 2011 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  18. skarphace

    The Republican I am most dissapointed with in his decision not to attend our President's speech is Ron Paul.

    My vote is still undecided, but his chances at my vote just diminished.

    Shame on you, Paul.

    September 8, 2011 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  19. TigerLily194

    ANY elected politician who does not show up for a speach by our STANDING PRESIDENT should be barred from participation in the congress. This is a total disrespect of our nations leader whether you agree with him or not....... Just remember what goes around comes around and as a card carrying Republican I have never been so discusted with a group of people in all of my voting life.......... I will surely vote you out come election year............. You have set a presidence for the future and now that it has been set whether it is a republican or democrat in the WH you will garner the same disrepect you have given............ !!!!

    September 8, 2011 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  20. SurRy

    "Louisiana Sen. David Vitter just had bigger and better plans, but changed them to attend." I guess he couldn't find any diapers to wear with pro$titute$

    September 8, 2011 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  21. Shannon

    we need to stop electing these disresptful people, they seem to have forgotten on the Republlican side, that they work for us. It's their job to participate in running our government. I think anyone who doesn't show up should be forced to resign.

    September 8, 2011 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  22. A Soldier

    I'm a soldier in the US Army and I find all the disrespct towards the Commander n Chief out of control. If he calls a damn meeting your elected asses need to be present. He is the President not you. You were elected to serve the people not think whats best for your schedules. Simple fact is no matter if I like the President or not he still is the boss. But they would want the same respect from service members if they were electeded. Do your damn jobs in DC instead of all the grandstanding and maybe things would be better. Your lifetime healthcare provided by the people, your pension for life for serving 2 yrs of bullshit talking provided by the people. Do something right and act like proffessionals because your days are numbered.

    September 8, 2011 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  23. Dave in Cleveland

    Gee all southernors, all republicans...... what a surprise. Let's be real, Obama is "not THEIR President".

    September 8, 2011 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  24. ThinkAgain

    California Conservative: Compromise isn't in your volcabulary....

    YOUR party is the one that has said NO to everything the President has proposed.

    And the reason why the deficit has grown under President Obama is because Obama had the stones to put the cost of the Iraq and Afghan wars on the books – Bush left them off and cut taxes (NEVER before in our history have taxes been cut during wartime – AND Bush passed those cuts using reconciliation – a backroom deal, if there ever was one).

    Then Bush had Cheney go out on the Sunday talk shows and say that "Deficits don't matter" when the Clinton surplus went up in smoke because of the failed Bush policies.

    Reagan at least cared enough about our country that when his tax cuts resulted in deficits, he raised taxes 11 times during his presidency.

    If you're looking for arrogance, look to all the chicken hawks (Bush, Cheney, Norquist, Rove, Limbaugh, Gingrich, Wolfowitz) who started TWO wars.

    If you're looking for arrogance, look to Bush and Cheney who think they've never made a mistake.

    If you're looking for arrogance, look in the mirror at a fool who thinks that taking supporting the Republican failed policies is a good thing because it makes you feel all puffed up and important!

    September 8, 2011 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  25. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    Republicans, like their Taliban brethren, hate freedom of speech.

    September 8, 2011 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
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