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updated: 9/9/2011 12:43 PM

Walsh says he was 'offended' by joint congressional session

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  • U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh makes speaks at a small-business forum at the Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts on Thursday.

       U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh makes speaks at a small-business forum at the Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts on Thursday.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh talks to the media while holding his notes for the small business forum behind his back at the Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts on Thursday.

       U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh talks to the media while holding his notes for the small business forum behind his back at the Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts on Thursday.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh bounded back and forth to pick audience members to speak Tuesday night at a small-business forum in Schaumburg.

       U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh bounded back and forth to pick audience members to speak Tuesday night at a small-business forum in Schaumburg.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh makes a point to the people at the small-business forum at the Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts on Thursday.

       U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh makes a point to the people at the small-business forum at the Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts on Thursday.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Schaumburg's Tony Domino sits outside Schaumburg's Prairie Center for the Arts with his protest sign and waits for U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh to exit from the business forum held on Thursday night.

       Schaumburg's Tony Domino sits outside Schaumburg's Prairie Center for the Arts with his protest sign and waits for U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh to exit from the business forum held on Thursday night.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh dons his microphone before he addresses the small-business forum at the Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts on Thursday.

       U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh dons his microphone before he addresses the small-business forum at the Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts on Thursday.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh calls a timeout on John Terrell of Lindenhurst as he makes his point at the small-business forum at the Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts on Thursday.

       U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh calls a timeout on John Terrell of Lindenhurst as he makes his point at the small-business forum at the Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts on Thursday.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh talks about President Barack Obama's speech at the small-business forum at the Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts on Thursday.

       U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh talks about President Barack Obama's speech at the small-business forum at the Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts on Thursday.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Congressman Joe Walsh makes his point as he speaks to a packed house of almost 100 people at small-business forum at the Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts on Thursday.

       Congressman Joe Walsh makes his point as he speaks to a packed house of almost 100 people at small-business forum at the Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts on Thursday.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Video: Martin Brashir on Walsh skiping speech

 
 

U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh stuck to his guns and skipped President Barack Obama's jobs speech to a joint session of Congress on Thursday night.

Instead of taking a seat on the right side of the House chamber with his fellow Republicans, the McHenry freshman was at Schaumburg's Prairie Center for the Arts for a small-business forum he set up for the evening. While people watched the speech live on a large screen in the center's auditorium, Walsh was sequestered in an anteroom, where he later said he was reading a copy of Obama's remarks.

Moments after Obama ended his speech, Walsh emerged and spoke to the media outside the building.

Walsh said he boycotted the speech -- a move that garnered national attention -- because he was "offended" by Obama's request for a joint session, something the congressman said should be reserved for more significant occasions.

"If I'd have been in that chamber, I would've felt used," Walsh said.

When asked about the specifics of Obama's proposal, Walsh said it was "too soon" to say what he supports or proposes. Even so, he criticized the speech in general.

"He's talking about more government spending... and more government aid," Walsh said.

When the interviews were over, Walsh went inside and held court with the business owners and other people gathered there. He served as something of a talk-show host, bounding back and forth across the front of the room to pick audience members to speak.

Many people were angry about the economy, the cost of doing business and President Obama's policies. One accused the White House of launching "an assault" on entrepreneurs and innovators.

Walsh's only rule was that people not ask him about his decision to skip the speech.

"This is not about politics," said Walsh, who's heading back to Washington, D.C., this morning. "This is about policy."

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