Freshman Tea Party Republican Joe Walsh (8th) is making good on promises not to show up for the speech. Instead Walsh will hold a “small business job forum” in his Illinois district “with the people who really create jobs.”
He’ll return to the Capitol before Friday morning voting begins, he said in a statement.
Walsh has made a congressional career out of criticizing the president, and he hasn’t been shy about why he’s skipping the speech.
“How idiotic is this president?” the freshman Tea Party Republican said last week. “I don’t want to be disrespectful, but he’s going to bring forth a jobs plan next week. Think about that for a minute. He’s been in office for three years. He’s destroyed job creation systematically for three years.”
White House press secretary Jay Carney chose his words more carefully on Sunday when asked during a press briefing about Walsh’s decision.
“The idea that the president of the United States giving a speech about the need to grow the economy and create jobs is political — I’ll let you judge that for yourself,” Carney said.
Walsh repeatedly has called the president’s speech a political move.
“I don’t see the point in being a prop for another of the President’s speeches asking for more failed stimulus spending and more subsidies for his pet projects,” he said.
But not everyone’s buying it.
During a speech at the Union League Club Wednesday, Sen. Mark Kirk defended the president against a certain, unnamed Illinois Congressman who vowed not to attend the president’s speech.
“I will be in the chamber, because you have to respect the office,” Kirk said. “Even if you campaigned against the current office holder, you respect the office and the role of the joint session is in the Constitution.”