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. paul

    Not attending this meeting on "jobs" should be an impeachable offense. This really shows just how much they care about finding a real solution to job creation. Throw in the fact that most Republicans have already bashed the Obama speech before even hearing it and it shows the true spirit of the party of "NO". They are betting on the economy staying in the tank and thus they WIN. Great strategy for the country and future legislators.

    September 8, 2011 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  2. TJ

    I'm not watching. I've had it with speeches.

    September 8, 2011 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  3. livingston

    @ A Soldier – Well said! The GOP is behaving like a bunch of spoiled brats. They have lost the support of everyone but the lunatic fringe. All they want to do is destroy the President and they don't care if they destroy the country to do it. Fortunately the majority of the American public is starting to recognise this. Have they noticed their approval ratings? They better start dusting off their resumes. They are going to need them.

    September 8, 2011 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  4. ThinkAgain

    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.

    When did I say anything about the administration suing banks?

    September 8, 2011 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  5. Wise1Speak


    (1.) – It is obvious that President Obama has bent over backwards to please Republicans like no other sitting President.

    (2.) – It is also clear that Tea Party Republicans will stop at nothing to personally destroy the President, even when it comes ruining the nation's credit or destroying the country under President Obama's watch.

    This kind of "disrespect" and "hypocrisy" must be called into check by voting out any Tea Party Republican that is anti- middle-class while supporting corporations that don't pay their fair share of taxes.

    September 8, 2011 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  6. ThinkAgain

    Another thought regarding the GOP's rush to de-regulate industry:

    I happen to like toys without lead, toothpaste without anti-freeze, prescription drugs that have been tested, cars whose wheels don't fall off, houses that don't fall over during an earthquake (like in Haiti, which has no building codes).

    Reasonable regulation is just that – reasonable (and if you know anything about human nature, absolutely necessary). This silly idea that the "market corrects itself" is just an excuse by greedy jerks to make as much money as possible without any concern for the harm they do in the process.

    September 8, 2011 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  7. ThinkAgain

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

    Hear, hear! I'm lucky enough to live in a state that has fairly high voter turnout, because if not, I'd be car-pooling folks to the polls all day November 6, 2012 to help get the vote out.

    There are more registered Democrats than Republicans – all we need to do is GET OUT AN VOTE DEMOCRATIC in November 2012!

    September 8, 2011 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  8. wise american

    It is clearly plain to see that the two headed monster Republican/Tea party are determined to destroy the counrtry rather than accept Obama as President Of the United States no matter what he says or does they will oppose without thinking twice about it. They will stll go down as the party who put party first rather than we the people. I'm fed up with them.

    September 8, 2011 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  9. Doug

    He is an evil man who truly hates every American right of center. Almost every Democrat in America supports inflicting harm on every American right of center, Hoffa was just preeching to the Dem choir and their chorus of hate.

    With that said, out of respect for the office there was no reason not to attend.

    September 8, 2011 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  10. ingrid

    Very disrespectful of the GOP. There is no excuse for this behavior. Disgusting.

    September 8, 2011 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  11. marty

    The actions of these political appointees are another example of ill -equipped persons being elected to serve in a position of trust and intelligence, but have demonstrated that they cannot deliver. They should be recalled immediately.

    September 8, 2011 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  12. doglover_50

    Can you imagine if the roles were reversed? There would be calls for treason and hanging of any democrats if they pulled a stunt like this. So bizarre these people think they are more "American" and patriotic. I happen to think my own boss is an idiot with some TERRIBLE ideas, but that doesn't give me the right (and I certainly do NOT) skip meetings for that reason....

    September 8, 2011 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  13. doglover_50

    Amen to Soldier's comment!

    September 8, 2011 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  14. Kenny K

    I thought these representative just came back from long vacations!

    September 8, 2011 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  15. lcleejr

    once again republican politicians have shown us they could careless about doing anything to help our country. their money won't matter much come election time because voters won't believe anything they say. republican politicians have become an embarssment to the majority of voters. its unfortunate so many republican politicians are cowards.

    September 8, 2011 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  16. ThinkAgain

    California Conservative: Unplug Obama's teleprompter and watch him have "deer in headlight" syndrome.

    Enough with the teleprompter! Have you ever given a speech? Using a teleprompter allows the speaker to directly address the audience, looking them in the eye.

    President Obama doesn't have a problem speaking without a teleprompter; he did it countless times during the 2008 election debates, town halls, interviews and spontaneous question-and-answer sessions and countless times since he was elected and sworn in as POTUS.

    You and your ilk are just jealous that President Obama can actually think and speak coherently – so just get over it already!

    September 8, 2011 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  17. ggwindsor

    glad to see america waking up you,ve been asleep for a while from canada

    September 11, 2011 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
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