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Pelosi Peeved Republicans Opt Out of Rebuttal to Obama Speech

House Speaker John Boehner talks about jobs in West Chester, Ohio, Sept. 2.AP

Republicans have decided they're not going to give a rebuttal to President Obama's jobs speech later this week, a decision House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi took as a high affront to the White House

At least three GOP lawmakers also have announced they're not going to show up for the presidential address. House Speaker John Boehner's office then confirmed Tuesday evening that nobody from the party would deliver an official televised response. 

Pelosi said the party's "silence" would "speak volumes about their lack of commitment to creating jobs." 

"The Republicans' refusal to respond to the president's proposal on jobs is not only disrespectful to him, but to the American people," Pelosi said. 

But Boehner spokesman Mike Steel said Obama's proposals on Thursday "will rise or fall on their own merits," suggesting a GOP response was not needed. 

"Republicans are, and have been, entirely focused on job creation. Every member of Congress, and -- more importantly -- the American people, will provide a reaction to the president's address," Steel said. 

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday that Republicans will have "ample opportunity to express their opinions about the package" and hopefully will provide positive reactions since he insisted without getting into specifics that the proposals have garnered bipartisan support in the past. 

"We are focused on the main event, not on the sideshows, there's an inordinate amount of attention here in Washington paid to the stuff that doesn't matter, the stuff that Americans don't care about, the stuff that when forced to listen to it drives them crazy," Carney told reporters.

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said there will be "plenty" of response to the president's speech on Friday, but told Fox News he suspects the reason there's no formal response is "the speaker doesn't expect to hear much to respond to." 

Some members of Congress, though, won't be there when Obama delivers his address to a Joint Session of Congress. 

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., has said he doesn't think he'll attend -- he told Fox News he's "sick and tired of speeches." Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., also said he'd skip, writing on his Twitter page that he has no interest in being a "prop" for Obama's speech. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., will not attend either, opting instead to hold a Twitter town hall while the president speaks. 

Dana Perino, former press secretary for George W. Bush, said the lawmakers should attend the session because "you're an elected leader, and it's quite a privilege to be able to be there." 

As for a GOP rebuttal, Perino said there is a downside to it in that it always makes the opposition look small in comparison to the president. 

"This is not a State of the Union address, but still tradition would say there should be a rebuttal. I don't think it's necessary, the game is starting," Perino said, referring to the first game of the NFL season, which immediately follows the president's speech. 

Perino said congressional leaders have opened Statuary Hall in the Capitol to allow any member of Congress to talk to the media.

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