WASHINGTON -- House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday that his Republican colleagues "ought to be respectful" and attend President Barack Obama's address to Congress later in the evening, despite the vows of some in his party to boycott the speech for political reasons.
"The president is coming at our invitation," Boehner told reporters. "We ought to be respectful and we ought to welcome him."
Boehner said he has been encouraging his colleagues to attend Obama's speech, during which the president will roll out his much-anticipated package of new job creation proposals. Obama "is the president of the United States," Boehner said, "and I believe that all members ought to be here and do this."
But, he added, just because he wants members of the House of Representatives to attend doesn't mean they will.
"I’m just the speaker," he said. "You've got 434 colleagues who have their own opinions, and they're entitled to them."
A number of Republicans are making a point not to attend Obama's address in protest of his economic policies.
"Instead of being a prop of another one of the President's speeches, next Thursday I will fly home to IL to talk to real job creators #tcot," Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) tweeted last week.
"If [Obama] sent a written proposal over first, I would go hear him explain it, but frankly right now I’m so frustrated I don’t think I’m going to go,” Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) told ABC News on Monday.
“I can’t imagine too many Americans wanting to hear another speech with no real plan attached,” DeMint said.
Other Republicans who have said they won't attend include Rep. Ron Paul (Texas), who is also one of Obama's GOP presidential challengers, and Rep. Paul Broun (Ga.). Instead, Broun said he plans to watch the speech from his congressional office, where he'll be hosting a live town-hall meeting via Twitter.
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) initially said he would skip the speech to host a football season opener party with family and friends, but on Thursday he said he had no choice but to stick around for the address because of the way Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had scheduled votes for the day.
"Typical Harry Reid. He's now schdld votes that should’ve been this morn 4 right b4 & right AFTER prez's speech. Pens me in 2 have 2 stay," Vitter tweeted.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney called it "regrettable" that some are skipping Obama's address for purely political reasons.
"The president is addressing a joint session of Congress to talk about the economy, the American economy -- the need to grow the economy and to create jobs," Carney said during a Tuesday briefing. "I think that's a goal shared by Republicans of all political persuasions."
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