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. ART

    If Americans cannot see that these Rethuglicans do not have any interest in the middle class then they must be as dumb as Michelle Bauchman or Sarah Palin

    September 8, 2011 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  2. NoBama

    CNN believes as does MSNBC, NTY, Huff, politico, Media Matters and many others that if you say the lie enough it becomes fact. True in some cases but not when the truth is OBVIOUS for Christ sake! Obama is a one term president. He will loose the election with historic numbers. He has failed as a leader and no lies can fix it.
    That is why they are frustrated.

    September 8, 2011 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  3. Reggie from LA

    Weasles. They can't add any substance to the equation anyway. Don't need them. Any of them.

    September 8, 2011 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  4. Rick 7809

    Right after Obama was elected, Rush pontificated that the Republican party should wish and work for the President to fail. They are just continuing that philosophy. When there will be a republican President (and there will be sometime) the Democrat party will justify worse actions than this by saying, the Repubs did it to Obama. The system is broken when the parties care more about getting and staying in power, than about the citizens of the country. It is very Ironic that when Congress has a 17% approval rating, they think that the country is behind them. It is ironic that Joe six pack of the Tea Party, supports lower taxes on millionaires and less regulation of the financial sector, that just put him out of work and put his house under water. I don't know how this will end, but it will get a whole lot worse before it gets better.

    September 8, 2011 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  5. Jimm

    Well, its expected. Not like these people actually care about jobs...other than their own. What has DeMint done since getting to the Senate? What abot Vitter? Have Broun and Walsh done anything since beinge elected?

    September 8, 2011 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  6. Billy Offspring

    We the people elected President Obama, however some Republicans think it is justified to not show for a crucial speech regarding the #1 issue in America, unemployed citizens and job creation. How do these Republicans think they are helping any of us? Obama inherited a nation with massive debt due to the creation of 2 wars, a devastated economy and a banking system that proved it was not too big to fail. What effort have the Republican shown through all this? More tax breaks for the rich and large international corporations. Their has never been so many billionaire in our country and the ranks of poverty have grown in parallel. Small business is where jobs are created. Large companies can easily send jobs overseas where a local small business must use the work force at hand. Trickle down has failed us yet Republicans have convinced too many people that jobs will be created by giving the wealthy more to spend on themselves.

    September 8, 2011 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  7. disgusted

    Can't show up eh? Well, come next election day, what if the voters don't show up for ya all? Maybe they will have something better and bigger to do like re-elect Barack Obama:-)

    September 8, 2011 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    Look at who they are. "SecedingfromTexas" summed it up quite nicely. They are the worst of the worst. The leading trouble makers from both chambers.

    September 8, 2011 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  9. JOE

    "GOPers speak up but some won't show for Thurdsay's speech." Does that means they're going to drink Kool-Aid?

    September 8, 2011 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  10. Greg

    Pehaps it is better for them to sit out – less chance of childish and petulant behavior like calling out "You lie"

    September 8, 2011 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  11. obandon

    The GOP/Tea have been completely unprofessional and totally disrespectful of this President. Regardless of how they feel they should still act professionally and at the very least be respectful and show some class. My cat has more class in what he deposits in his litter box than this current bunch of GOP/Tea party so called politicians. Term llimits needs to be the answer to these career clowns.

    September 8, 2011 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  12. Four and The Door

    Annie, Atlanta
    @Four and the Door and Enough is Enough – what has your party offered?
    I am proud of what the Republicans have done in the House this year. To start, they were able to reduce Obama's 2011 Federal Budget by $100 billion. Then they were able to get spending cuts along with the increased debt ceiling limit when Obama wanted it raised with no adjustments to federal spending. These are two biggies as far as showing leadership in getting the Federal government spending in control. They paid close attention to what Americans outside of Washington were asking for. And yes, this is the first thing they needed to do towards stable economic recovery and jobs.

    September 8, 2011 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  13. John

    That's just the kind of childish BS that WE THE PEOPLE ARE SICK OF! Keep it up GOP, you'll be out on yer arses!

    September 8, 2011 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  14. qwerty1

    Disagree with the mans policies but respect the office.

    If the president calls a joint meeting of the houses you damn well better show up unless you're dead or in a coma.

    September 8, 2011 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  15. Alan

    We need to listen so we know why we must take obama out!

    September 8, 2011 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    "How about Obama scheduling his speech on the night of a GOP debate (scheduled months ago) in an attempt to play politics & upstage them?"

    First, Obama's office consulted with Boehner 's office before attempting to schedule the speach for Wednesday...and Obama himself sent a letter to Boehner requesting it.

    Second, it's probably not a good argument to be making that the opposition's presidential campaign debate that will result in no solutions, no action, no legislation, no nothing (or "know nothing" as the case may be) should take precedence over the actual sitting President's desire to speak before a joint session of Congress regarding the single most important problem facing our country. THAT is petty politics.

    September 8, 2011 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  17. Bob R., Lanham, Marlyand

    It's a racial thing, which is at the core of the lack of respect for our President. Let's re-elect President Obama if for no other reason than to jamb racism down the throats of the SOB Tea Partiers!

    September 8, 2011 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  18. Sniffit

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


    September 8, 2011 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  19. The Elephant in The Room

    Good to know that Vitter values watching a football game over PERFORMING HIS JOB. If any of us acted like this, we`d be fired.

    Mr. Walsh, if I were the President, you wouldn`t get into see me so YOU WON`T be bringing anything back to me. The reason you wouldn`t get in is your disrespect.

    Many of the President` supporters want him to be more forceful and strike fear into Republicans ala LBJ. They seem to miss the point though that IF Obama were as threatening and as much of a SOB [and I mean that in the nicest way] as LBJ, a majority of white people would never have voted for him and he wouldn`t have been elected.

    America still has a problem with a Black man, asserting his will. Subconscieously they want to "label" him as arrogant, cocky, elitist, menacing or dangerous when he impliments a consequence environment against people who are white.

    For all those democrats & independents that say they want the President to kick butt & take names, you`ve got to help further a climate where, before he gets to be President, the black man is as secure in being an SOB as LBJ was.

    Re-elect the man and give him a fillibuter & obstructionist proof Congress and Barack Obama will take the gloves off.

    September 8, 2011 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  20. Patricia

    How disrespectful. He is the President and they are not showing up? How childish. I have never witnessed a President being so disrespected as President Barack Obama has; he and his entire family has come under so much ridicule. There appears to be a more underlying problem.

    The reason why we are in this mess is because of the Republicans. Thy block everything this President tries to do. Last time I checked; didn't the Republicans state say on the campaign trail, that there main focus were jobs??!! Looks like they lost focus.
    I guess those that will not be attending feel they are making a statement, but its the wrong one and people are watching.

    I don't remember the Democrats not attending Bush's speeches; when he clearly had nothing to say. But out of respect for the position they he held and they attended and trust, the Democrats had a reason not to attend.

    What a sad state of affairs this is.

    September 8, 2011 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  21. Irrma in North Carolina

    There is nothing that any one can do about the racers tea party gang, it is up to the guy up above to take care of this awful bunch who is tearing this country down. Hope the american people can see what they are doing and vote them out.

    September 8, 2011 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  22. Debbie

    GOP is acting quite childish. They just don't get it. They were elected to actually do their jobs, not host football parties. They can't convince me they have my best interests at heart if they don't bother to listen to anyone other than themselves. Vote them out.

    September 8, 2011 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  23. Teresa

    Hopefully we won't have to put up with all this hatred for too much longer. The way things are right now I think the end of the world as we know it will be a good thing. One thing for sure, there won't be a politician left on earth. You see the Good will inherit the earth. I have never met a politician that is good. Good at manipulation, lies and deceit but that's about all. So whether you are Republican, Democrat, Independent or crackpot get ready for some big changes.

    September 8, 2011 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  24. Marry

    GOP/TP – the party of "NO"! They will not work with the President. They have not done that for even one day since he entered the WH! He will try – but they will not change their ways. That is why WE have to change the Congress and the Senate so the President will have resonable people to work with for the country during his 2nd term!

    September 8, 2011 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  25. Raymond

    So Sen. Vitter makes it clear that a NFL game is far more important than the job issue we face in this country. I always thought a senator gets paid to do the job, not watching a football game...
    Well, I guess I was wrong and I hope this is Mr. Vitter's last term representing the state of Louisiana.

    September 8, 2011 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
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