When President Obama enters the House chamber to give his final State of the Union address on Tuesday, one of the three Republican presidential candidates in Congress will be missing.
Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzTrump's America: Businessmen in, bureaucrats out When Trump says 'Make America Great Again,' he means it Booker is taking orders from corporate pharmaceuticals MORE (R-Texas) will skip the president’s address, opting instead to head to New Hampshire where he hasn’t campaigned since November, a Cruz campaign spokesman confirmed.
The three remaining candidates — Sens. Marco RubioMarco RubioGOP, Dems hear different things from Trump Senate committee to vote Monday on Tillerson Tillerson met with top State official: report MORE (R-Fla.), Rand PaulRand PaulDems blast Trump plans for deep spending cuts Trump team prepares dramatic cuts Paul, Lee call on Trump to work with Congress on foreign policy MORE (R-Ky.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders supports women marchers with tweet Five takeaways from Trump's inauguration Trump takes reins of divided nation MORE (I-Vt.) — will attend.
“It’s not a snub. He’s going to be in New Hampshire, working hard to win New Hampshire,” Tyler told The Dallas Morning News. "No disrespect. It just is going to work out this way.”
Cruz, who leads in Iowa GOP polls, trails in New Hampshire in third place – behind Rubio by more than 2 points and behind GOP front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpWashington Post reporter compares DC rioters to Boston Tea Party Women's march reaches Antarctica Steinem: If Trump creates Muslim registry, we'll all register MORE by almost 16 points, according to RealClearPolitics averages.
Skipping the annual address will is not likely to hurt a Republican candidate with primary voters, said Dan Schill, an associate professor at James Madison University who teaches about media and politics.
“I don't think it will necessarily turn off too many primary voters in New Hampshire and Iowa, but there is that risk,” he said.
Schill added, “The choice to stiff the speech can send a message it’s time for change. It may also backfire for people who see it as not respecting office of the presidency.”
For those who will attend, each receives two tickets, one for themselves and one for a guest.
Schill said State of the Union that who a member of Congress brings as a guest to the State of the Union can often be a “news strategy” to help boost a policy the lawmaker cares about and “make it come to life.”
“It’s a way to try to get journalists to write about their guest and their campaign,” Schill said, adding that it also can “personalize and dramatize issues that a candidate cares about.”
In 2013, Rep. Steve StockmanSteve StockmanWhy Republicans took aim at an ethics watchdog Cruz will skip State of the Union Ethics: Lawmakers didn’t ‘knowingly’ break rules with Azerbaijan gifts MORE (R-Texas), for example, invited outspoken musician and gun right supporter Ted Nugent to attend in anticipation of Obama's remarks on the issue of guns.
And last year, Rubio invited the daughter of a Cuban activist to highlight Rubio’s opposition to Obama’s decision to ease relations with Cuba.
A Sanders Senate spokesman told The Hill that the Vermont senator will be accompanied by his wife Jane. “The senator has brought his wife to past events including the Pope’s address to Congress,” the spokesman said.
Rubio will be bringing a Florida teen whose father was killed in Afghanistan while serving as an Army reservist. The teen founded a group that pays tribute to late veterans, according to WFTV Orlando.
Paul has yet to announce his guest.
The rest of the 2016 presidential field will need to be invited as a guest if they hope to attend. But a handful of the candidates have already confirmed that they’re hitting the campaign trail ahead of early-voting state caucuses and primaries.
Trump, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will all be in Iowa campaigning, according to their press aides.
Trump will hold a rally in Cedar Falls, while Fiorina will attend a meet-and-greet, town hall and reception across the Hawkeye State.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will temporarily pause his campaigning and heading back to his home state to make a similar address -- New Jersey’s State of the State -- on the same day as Obama’s speech. Christie has been scrutinized for spending more time on the campaign trail than governing in New Jersey.
Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, who barely registers in the polls, will also be away from D.C. to campaign, according to his spokesman.