In the latest round of political maneuvering ahead of President Barack Obama’s jobs speech, U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint has decided to remain in Washington, D.C. tonight instead of flying home to visit Boeing’s North Charleston campus.
But the South Carolina Republican isn’t sticking around on the president’s account. A DeMint spokesman said the lawmaker will be on the phone while the president delivers his much-anticipated address to Congress.
“Tonight, Senator DeMint will take part in a conference call with South Carolina business leaders who are actually creating jobs, instead of just talking about it,” Wesley Denton, the spokesman, wrote in an email today.
DeMint had planned to leave Washington in protest of Obama’s speech, but then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid scheduled a vote immediately following the address on a largely symbolic bill to disapprove an increase in the federal government’s debt limit.
DeMint will cast his vote, according to Denton, then travel to Charleston, in time to make a speech tomorrow to the National Speakers Conference, a gathering of state house speakers from around the country.
The meeting with Boeing officials and workers will be rescheduled, according to Denton.
DeMint is one of two Republican senators and a handful of Congressman who have vowed to skip Obama’s speech.
U.S. Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana took to social media this morning to explain the reasons for the moves and countermoves.
“Typical Harry Reid. He’s now schdld votes that should’ve been this morn 4 right b4 & right AFTER prez’s speech,” Vitter wrote on Twitter. “Pens me in 2 have 2 stay.”
A followup posting from Vitter said this:
"Reid ensured I'll miss my Saints party at home. Don't worry--only strengthens my Who Dat resolve. On 2 the Super Bowl!"
In other words, Reid’s decision to schedule a vote on patent legislation before Obama’s address and on “a joint resolution relating to the disapproval of the President’s exercise of authority to increase the debt limit” afterward meant he could not travel back to Louisiana to watch the season-opening NFL game between the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers.
Charleston Boeing spokeswoman Candy Eslinger today said the decision to cancel DeMint’s visit was made “early this morning or last night, I’m not exactly sure.”
She said Boeing hosts visitors “all the time here” and that the cancellation was “not that extraordinary.”
But the circumstances of DeMint’s planned visit were unusual.
Last week, Obama asked to address Congress on Wednesday, but that conflicted with the Republican presidential primary debate, so House Speaker John Boehner asked Obama to speak tonight instead. Obama acceded and will speak just before the NFL season kicks off.
Yesterday, DeMint and Vitter pledged to skip the speech anyway, citing priorities in their home states.