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Politics GOP town halls go viral

21:25  09 may  2017
21:25  09 may  2017 Source:   thehill.com

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Rod Blum (R-Iowa) went viral even before setting foot in his town hall . At a Dubuque youth center, he ripped off his microphone and stormed out of a “They lack discipline,” one House GOP lawmaker said of his colleagues. The viral moments starring Labrador and Blum — two members of the far-right

A Tennessee woman confronts Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) about health care reform at a town hall meeting in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

GOP town halls go viral © Provided by The Hill GOP town halls go viral

House Republicans, on guard after passing an unpopular ObamaCare repeal bill, are seeing their town hall meetings go viral.

In Lewiston, Idaho, conservative Rep. Raul Labrador told a rowdy crowd that "nobody dies because they don't have access to health care," setting off a frenzy in the room and on social media. Fact-checker Politifact promptly ruled that Labrador's statement was a "pants on fire" lie.

Vulnerable two-term Rep. Rod Blum (R-Iowa) went viral even before setting foot in his town hall. At a Dubuque youth center, he ripped off his microphone and stormed out of a local TV interview after a reporter asked why he was pre-screening non-constituents from his town hall if he's willing to take donations from those people.

Iowa congressman walks out of a TV interview and into an angry town hall meeting

  Iowa congressman walks out of a TV interview and into an angry town hall meeting Rod Blum then tells The Post that the GOP health-care bill “isn’t a repeal and replace. This is Obamacare 2.0."A few hours later, Rep. Rod Blum (R-Iowa) showed up at his town hall meeting where most of the prescreened audience screamed at him.

Across the country, angry crowds are acting out against local Republican lawmakers and President Donald Trump's agenda. CNN's Phil Mattingly reports.

Town halls with politicians have grown tense as constituents around the country continue to hammer their Voters are going out in droves to speak with their elected representatives and hold them One woman went viral after demanding a solution to regional coal miners who had lost their jobs and were

"I'm done here. This is ridiculous. This is ridiculous," Blum said as he stood up and walked out of the room as a half-dozen children from the center looked on. "He's going to sit here and just badger me."

Hours later, Blum appeared at his pre-screened town hall at a packed high school gym, and still was treated to loud boos, jeers and yelling - much of it aimed at his vote last week to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

Blum's actions made for great video - though not the kind he was presumably hoping for. Other lawmakers offered criticism for the self-imposed wounds.

"They lack discipline," one House GOP lawmaker said of his colleagues.

The viral moments starring Labrador and Blum - two members of the far-right Freedom Caucus - are being seized upon and circulated by Democratic operatives convinced that the GOP's health vote will backfire and hand Democrats the majority in the 2018 midterms.

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House Republicans are on the firing line at town hall meetings in their home districts. Over the past few weeks, constituents mostly complained about the plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. Get your news on the go !

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These moments also are precisely the reason more cautious Republicans are laying low and skipping public events and interviews all together during the weeklong congressional recess.

Only about a dozen out of the House's 238 Republicans are hosting public events during the break, according to the left-leaning Town Hall Project, which tracks and publishes public congressional events online.

Some GOP lawmakers, like House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) and Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), are holding telephone town halls instead of in-person forums. Such a route allows lawmakers to hear from constituents in a more controlled setting that doesn't risk video ricocheting around social media.

Many of those who are holding in-person town halls are taking precautions.

Constituents attending Blum's town hall were prescreened and prevented from carrying handheld signs. Local Democrats circumvented the restriction by handing out green and red sheets of paper people could hold up if they agreed or disagreed with Blum, according to The Washington Post.

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Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz was met with boos and chants of "do your job" at a town hall in his Utah district.

Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) plans similar restrictions for a town hall on Wednesday night in a predominantly Democratic part of his swing district.

An RSVP page advises attendees not to bring signs or bags. It also notes that "due to safety requirements, law enforcement officers will be in attendance and all personal items are subject to search."

MacArthur's role in crafting an amendment that led to the ObamaCare repeal bill's passage is expected to draw protests at his town hall. Demonstrators organized by New Jersey Citizen Action plan to hold a rally outside, according to the Burlington County Times.

At an event Tuesday, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), a top 2018 Democratic target, was grilled by constituents angry that he voted for the healthcare bill after previously expressing opposition to an earlier version.

Denham co-sponsored an amendment unveiled the night before last Thursday's vote to provide $8 billion over five years to help individuals with pre-existing conditions afford premiums in states that received waivers from ObamaCare protections preventing sick people from being charged more.

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Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) got a frosty reception in his home state on Feb. 9, at a town hall . Angry constituents packed a high school auditorium, grilled

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One constituent at the "coffee and casual conversation" event complained that he called Denham's office the day before the vote and was told by a staffer the lawmaker planned to oppose the bill. Then he saw the next day that Denham had indeed voted for it.

"The whole experience made me feel about this big," the constituent said, holding his thumb and index finger close together.

Another constituent demanded to know why Denham changed his position after indicating he'd vote against the bill to repeal and replace the healthcare law. "Why did you lie to us?" he asked.

Denham calmly explained that he felt the changes were enough to earn his support.

Labrador, who announced Tuesday he's running for governor in Idaho next year, declined to comment for this story. But the Tea Party favorite felt enough pressure that he issued a statement on his Facebook page where he conceded his "nobody dies" quip "wasn't very elegant."

He also pointed out how accessible he's been to his constituents, holding four town halls in Idaho. And he knocked the media for taking him out of context and only focusing on a "five-second clip."

"In a lengthy exchange with a constituent, I explained to her that Obamacare has failed the vast majority of Americans. In the five-second clip that the media is focusing on, I was trying to explain that all hospitals are required by law to treat patients in need of emergency care regardless of their ability to pay and that the Republican plan does not change that," Labrador said in his statement.

"The reason I held four towns halls in Idaho was to have an honest and frank discussion with my constituents about important issues," he added. "It certainly doesn't help that the media is only highlighting a five-second video, instead of the entire exchange."

A DIY resistance tries to keep the fight against Trump fresh .
Stationing herself outside a bank building and holding a sign in the unforgiving midday sun, Katie Farnan was multitasking, as usual. She's a mother of two young children and works for a nonprofit firm but also has a third job: Chair of the town hall committee of the activist group Indivisible Front Range Resistance. And at noon on this spring Friday, she was the very face of a protest movement run by amateurs that has provided the greatest challenge to President Donald Trump: A distracted mother dispensing fruit snacks to her sons, ages 1 and 3, while hoping to intercept a Republican senator attending a private meeting with bank employees.

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