Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman called the controversy over the timing of President Obama's speech to Congress concerning jobs nonsense, saying it is what people hate about politics, reports the Associated Press.
Huntsman notes that Obama has not been able to deliver on jobs up until this point in his term, so the logistics of the speech are irrelevant.
Originally, Obama requested to speak to a joint session of Congress on the evening of Sept. 7. However, Republicans balked at the timing, saying that would conflict with Texas Gov. Rick Perry's debut in the POLITICO/NBC Republican Presidential Debate. Some Congressional Republicans even accused the President of trying to upstage the event and said they would use parliamentary procedures to try to block the speech.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney points out that the conflict with the candidate debate was purely coincidental.
Both Houses will be back in session after their August recess on Wednesday, Sept. 7, so that was the date that was the date that was requested, Carney said in a statement obtained by POLITICO. We consulted with the Speaker about the date before the letter was released, but he determined Thursday would work better.
Although the President technically must get approval from the presiding officers of both the House and the Senate -- in this case Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Vice President Joe Biden -- Presidents have always been able to get the time slots they request. Some Democrats slammed Republicans, arguing that they were playing politics and disrepecting presidential prerogatives.
Of course, Obama's new speech date does not come without conflict. The NFL's Thursday night opener begins Sept. 8, and Obama may try to give his speech before the football game in order to attract more viewers.
Huntsman's call for civility may not bode well for him in a Republican primary race, a contest where he hasn't been able to break into the top tier. Other candidates, such as Perry and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) have been consistently jabbing the president on his record. As the average Republican primary voter is significantly more conservative than the electorate as a whole, the more conciliatory tone of Huntsman's campaign has failed to gain significant traction.