Walsh says he was 'offended' by joint congressional session
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."