Rep. Joe Walsh plans to skip Obama address

September 2, 2011 3:16:47 PM PDT
Illinois Republican Congressman Joe Walsh says when President Obama addresses Congress and the nation about jobs next week, he won't be there to listen.

Friday night, members of both the Republican and Democratic parties weighed in on Walsh's decision.

Illinois Republican leaders are whispering their outrage over Congressman Joe Walsh's latest act of protest. The first-term, northwest suburban tea party favorite says he'll take a pass on the presidential address on Capitol Hill next week.

The speech next Thursday night will count as Obama's fifth address to a joint session of Congress. He will set forth the administration's plan to create jobs and reduce the nation's 9 percent unemployment rate.

Walsh says he won't hear any of it. He will leave the capitol hours before the speech, attend a meeting with small business owners in the northwest suburbs that night, and return to Washington Friday.

"We're beyond speeches. I don't want to just be a prop there for him," said Walsh. "I would rather come home and talk to people who really know what we need to do about job creation."

"I think it's disrespectful not to be there," said Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi, who is running for congress in the redrawn 8th District, and who might end up running against Walsh.

"If you believe that there's not even a single thing that the president says that you possibly have interest in, then you're doing a disservice to your constituents," said Krishnamoorthi.

During his second joint session speech, Obama was heckled by Republican Joe Wilson of South Carolina.

"I think when the President of the United States is addressing Congress, Congress ought to be there," said 11th District Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger, who says he will attend Obama's speech not only in respect for the presidency but also to look for common ground on job creation.

"I'm a conservative, I believe that the federal government doesn't create jobs, but I also believe instead of this 'take it to the ledge' rhetoric that we've been continually seeing, there's gotta be an ability for us to work together to find the areas where we can agree," said Kinzinger.

Walsh says his mind is made up about Barack Obama as president.

"I respect the office. I vehemently disagree with what he's doing with the office," said Walsh.

Walsh says he will run for re-election next year but has not decided in which district he will run in. State democrats mapped him out of what they want to be the new 8th District. Walsh's home was remapped into the 14th District, which is already represented by Republican Randy Hultgren. Walsh is the proverbial political "loose cannon" even within his own party.

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