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. ccook

    I meant their opinion...

    September 8, 2011 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  2. teena

    So, they have BETTER things to do thatn listen to the President of the United States? Most of us would consider it an Honor and our Duty to be present when the ELECTED official to the highest position in the land was speaking to the Congress!
    These elitist snobs think they can do whatever they want to do and NOT be held accountable when they fail to do their job. I am SO SICK OF THE REPUBLICAN OBSTRUCTIONISTS!!!!!!

    September 8, 2011 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  3. timm4u

    This is no longer the united states of America it's the D.S.A Divided states of America

    September 8, 2011 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  4. Richard from Pa.

    Am alarmed that the politicians not respecting the leader of U.S. It shows other country’s communist or not Americans just not caring about working together, just being selfish. That is why US is on the track to become a 3rd world country. I will watch my life depends on what is being said……Go head Republicans show us how you do not care about the U.S.

    September 8, 2011 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  5. Pi$$off

    why are the GOP/teaparty enterprise, keep saying Obama, same old speeches, nothing new? What new from teh Gop/Teaparty enterprise? What is being offered as a plan, that the Senate is willing to take up? Nothing period, end of story. The GOP/teaparty double down on day one, back themselfs into a corner and left no room for Congressional leader to work comprimses, I presonally think some of this has to do with the removal of "pork barrel" adds, the funny things is the money still being spend, but they lost the abilty to use as leverage to get the few extra votes needed. As well, when the only thing on the GOP/teaparty mind is hurting obama. They can allow anything to go though, it would weekin them and streghten him. So here we sit, the GOP when they weren't in control of House liked alot of what POTUS is requesting, now they still like it just can't vote for it. So here we sit. If you really want to know who is at fault, you have to plain and smiply look to the vote in the last election. So many people voted new members into Goverships, and Congress because they believe tv ads only, (pay by just a few very rich) Take a moment and go look at the loudest big months in Congress, look at how many votes they actually recieved vs how much money was spend. Why in the heck do you think a few billionares spend that money. it sure wasn't to help you. it was to help them. Voters need to WAKE up, get involded actaully look who's backing these GOP/teaparty folks. then ask one question. Am I a millionare or billionare if the answer is NO then don't vote for them, they do care one bit for u, your not going to get the voice in congress. the Dems' are always a slapping post, but look at what they actually pass it focus is mid-class and working poor, isn't that the right voice to have? (unless your fithy rich then the answer is no of course). All i get is one vote but it will be for Obama. With the hope that once re-elected he will Kill "job killing" tax breaks for rich. Kill "job killing" tax loopholes for the Rich, enact TOUGH Wall Street speckers. Enact US corporation penalitys for company's offshoring US JOBS by forcing increase tax rates, and oh actually make companys pay taxes, (they might have a rate of 35%, but with all the GOP loopholes it's avg is 15%). So i say US companys with US workforce you pay 15% (you are creating jobs) US companys with oversea workforce you get to pay 30%. All Corp tax loopholes "CLOSED". Then we see the job's comeback or at the very least the Fed would be able to use the extra tax rate $ to provide loans to US Corp with US workforces. You see either way the mid-class wins, we get a JOB, the unemployement starts moving down, things start to get better. but none of this happens if GOP retain the House, it doesn't work, nothing gets passed that makes any real differnces. and yet the GOP still has not one real program that actual works to help us. last point GOP reduce taxes that will create jobs, well folks it's there a HUGE tax break only for the rich in place today? Where the jobs we real tax payers spend a lot of money give to the Rich, where the JOBS! Reduce regulations are you kidding me, don't u remember the housing bust where they all started, that what you get with derulations. GOP needs to get real, have real comproimse and tell the rich we help u for along time, we have to even this out and help the mid-class and working poor. things are just to bad, your going to lose alittle money but we have alot more in US that really need help today. God bless the USA, and POTUS Obama!

    September 8, 2011 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  6. Wil in the VA.

    How can any of these people be tired of speeches when all they do is give tired old speeches every time they are at work (work 2 weeks off a week) I can't say this is the height of disrespect because tommorow isn't here yet lol this is about JOBS and you are to busy to here some possible solutions on jump starting job creation WOW your true colors are showing.

    September 8, 2011 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  7. Suporter of president Obama.

    This is not a matter o choice. This is a must that every elected official should show up for the presidents speech this evening. Lets not play the game card because the economical problem we are in is not the fault of the president , Your administration created this mess, won't accept your mistakes, won the House on false promises and it will be a disrespect to the office of the presidency and to the president not to show up. As you can see Mr. Boehner has lost control and said in his comment he has asked them to show up but they have there own minds and decide what they want to do. This not an individual economic problem. It has touched everyone and if the Republicans have no regards to the presidents speech you know they are trying to put all the blame on him and continue working on making him a one time president.

    September 8, 2011 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  8. Sevres Blue

    Obama cannot win with the Republicans and their media. First he catches heat for taking a vacation (hello? the whole of Washington was shut down, what should he do? besides... everyone deserves time off), then for NOT sounding off on jobs, then he asks (DID you notice that? It's the way it should be.) to speak to joint sessions of Congress, and the Republicans say NO! We can't get the building swept and secured that fast, and Obama says, OK, how about the next night? How horrible! Nasty!
    Get over yourselves, Republicans. You lost the last election. Stop stewing about it and work with each other and the Democrats to help ALL Americans.

    September 8, 2011 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  9. paul from virginia

    The Republicans' singular objective or goal is to make the President Obama a one-term president. They have declared that goal openly (Senator McConnell). Other conservatives have said they wish for him to fail (RushL), etc. That is, they will do anything to make that happen, including opposing any job-creating proposals from the President. So, there is nothing new here. To me the question really is, what the democrats and Pres. Obama do to counter that goal of the Republicans? Of course, the American people in general are witnessing this Republican obstruction and they will act on it, I hope, next year.

    September 8, 2011 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  10. TEA PARTY Mike

    Obama got a 800 billion dollar stimulus, a 600 billion increase in the annual budget, auto bailouts, cash for clunkers, programs to bailout home owners under water, several unemployment extensions, a payroll tax cut, and Obamacare that Pelosi said would create 400,000 jobs right away. Even though Republicans did not support most of this, they did not have the votes to stop it. And some of it they did support and voted for. How much does Obama need? When all this was being passed Obama promised that millions of jobs would be created. If it had worked as promised, we would not need a stimulus two.
    The fact it did not work is not the Republicans fault. Just look at Obama's approval rating on the economy and jobs. Nearly 3 out of 4 people agree that Obama has failed. But tonight Obama is going to tell millions of viewers that the reason all of this has failed is the Republicans fault and he wants to do it all over again.
    No wonder some Republicans do not want to waste their time showing up. I don't think many Americans are going to watch it either, and many who do will probably change the channel before Obama is done.

    September 8, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  11. JOE

    The GOP's two and a half year premeditated and premature jusdement and scrutinity of the president's policies and leadership reminds me of an episode I saw several years ago on the Honeymooners. Do you recall the episode when Ralph Cramden made a rockus with Alice because he thought she was spending a fortune fixing up the apartment to welcome his mother in-law only at the end to discover that Alice was having his mother over? Yea, he sure felt like a-hummimg a-humming idiot. Well, that reminds me of the GOP. No matter what the president does, they criticize and oppose every legislation and policy with cinicism. But at the end of the day, who wins? America wins because under president Obama's leadership, America is sure forging ahead at home and abroad.

    September 8, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  12. Happy

    I have never heard of such disrepect for a president. It can't be because he is blach huh? President Obama should call out each one of their names tonight and ask their constituents what have they done for them lately. Even if they do not show up tonight, when they wake up tomorrow morning President Obama will still be their president. Wash is a dead beat dad who should be paying his child support and Vitters is a pervert who panders with prostitutes and DeMint is just a RACIST.

    September 8, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  13. pbooker

    This is the most disrespectful bunch of yahoos ever to wrap themselves in the American flag I have ever seen. I may not agree with everything President Obama does, but he still occupies the office of the presidency of the United States. Jobs people–this is about jobs. People are hurting–not just Democrats, but Republicans, and Independents alike. This Republican congress turns my stomach.

    September 8, 2011 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  14. A Conservative

    Completely disrespectful. Don't really care what the excuses are. Even if President Obama has nothing new to offer he deserves respect. And if you can't respect the man, respect the office.

    September 8, 2011 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  15. annie s

    Well, there ya go....Republicans are so interested in creating jobs that they can't be bothered even listening to the President. I have a great idea – let them all stay away permanently so that we can finally do something productive in this country.

    September 8, 2011 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  16. Carlos Murphy

    Just plain tired of Republicans.

    Stupid debate, stupid scheduleing issue, stupid actions here.

    Worst part was watching Perry get excited about executions.

    September 8, 2011 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  17. Skyler

    If Gabrielle Giffords can be undeterred in slogging her way back to the House of Congress for the priviledge of being present for duty 8 months after getting her brain slammed by a right-wing extremist's hollow point, then these self-serving, reptilian-brained, losers can show up for a effin' speech.

    September 8, 2011 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  18. David in FL

    You pathetic Republicans. You deserve NO respect and should be removed from office. I have never seen such a group of losers!

    September 8, 2011 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  19. Abell

    Boy id like to sit home on tax payer money nice job Tea Party and GOP you guys have the life. As a matter of fact there are some Americans who would just be happy to have a job. And your job creators are talking to you instead of interviewing people for hiring. I have a news flash for you conservatives, there are no such things as job creators except in china. Thanks for caring

    September 8, 2011 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  20. Donovan

    I've never seen such disrespect for the office of President ... EVER. The GOP are shameful.

    September 8, 2011 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  21. VA VERY Ex Republican

    One question and would love to hear a convincing smart answer??? Would the Tea party ever existed if the President was white (BTW, I am White)????? this hate and opposition tells me one thing and one thing only. This president is almost doing everything right and by the book and they just hate because it will kill their chances to gain back the WH if they agree with him or act in a civil manner by respecting the office of the POTUS. those guys are truly playing the millions of their followers by making them believe that this President is out there to ruin them. Some times I do sit down and wish for the GOP to take back the WH so who ever folllows the Tea Party feels the pain of being a racist and kick him or herself in the teath when this country truly goes down the drain under a GOP (My former party of course) takes over.

    September 8, 2011 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  22. NickAnast

    Can you imagine the outrage if 5 Democrats skipped a Republican president's speech? The GOP (not to mention the talking heads at Fox) would be demanding they resign.

    September 8, 2011 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  23. Frank

    Even Howard Stern commented that the absences of these Congressman from President Obama's speech is the height of disrespect. We should all be supporting Mr. Obama's efforts to get people back to work and ask our representatives to put aside partisan politics and roll up their sleeves to achieve a reasonable consensus. Isn't that the patriotic thing to do?

    September 8, 2011 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  24. fiskenmann

    I'm sure those who voted for the five are so proud to be represented by 'jerks five'! Well, obo has to listen to their garbage, so, why can't they listen to his?

    September 8, 2011 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  25. Paul/Iowa

    I wonder how many republicans will vote for any of their party Congressmen and Senators, this coming election, that are out of work, out of unemployment, knowing now how these party members are dis-respecting the office of the President. I always had respect for any President, democrat or republican, during my 70 odd years. This is the worse I have seen, and I can now say that it is race that takes the country down. I am ashamed to call all republicans ,that are treating this president with all the disrespect they can muster, morally sick. They call themselves christians, but violate all of the commandments, by not helping their neighbors, people in need of jobs, homes,food, helping the needy in poverty. This congress better get civil and work together, instead of trashing one another.

    September 8, 2011 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
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