In a pushback against Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, on Saturday California GOP Rep. Tom McClintock was forced to request a police escort after his efforts to defend his party’s Obamacare plans before a packed auditorium fell short and almost turned violent. Hundreds of people showed up for the town hall meeting, and McClintock's staff told him the situation was deteriorating, according to the LA Times.
"It's the first time I've ever had a police department have to extract me from a town hall, and I've done well over 100 of them in Congress," McClintock told the LA Times. A KQED Public Radio reporter tweeted this video of McClintock leaving among yelling protesters:
— Katie Orr (@1KatieOrr) February 4, 2017
The angry town hall participants chanted “vote him out” outside the Tower Theatre in downtown Roseville, the Republican-heavy population center of McClintock’s sprawling congressional district. Inside the theater, more than 200 people gathered for a town-hall event hosted by McClintock the Sacramento Bee reported.
McClintock left the theater at 11 a.m., immediately after the town hall concluded, escorted by police as he waded through a thick crowd of protesters who trailed him, shouting, “This is what Democracy looks like.”
Attendees, some carrying signs that read “Resist,” “Dump Tom McTrump” and “Climate change is real,” pressed McClintock to denounce Republican plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, acknowledge the science supporting the human causes of climate change, and oppose Trump’s executive order temporarily restricting refugee admissions to the U.S.
“I believe that order is constitutional,” said McClintock, one of several comments that elicited boos at the hourlong event. McClintock’s visit drew hundreds of people, most of whom had come to express opposition to the new administration.
Inside the theater, McClintock took about a dozen audience questions. Some of the most passionate comments came from people who said they feared losing access to health care if Republicans press forward to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a clear replacement. “What do you expect seniors and people with disabilities with low income to do if you take away our Medicare and Medicaid that we rely on to literally stay alive?” asked Amanda Barnes, who said she was paralyzed from her waist down after a hit-and-run accident in a crosswalk five years ago.
The angry reaction was to be expected: as the SacBee adds many of the town hall participants "identified themselves as liberal Democrats and progressives, while party registration in McClintock’s district – which incorporates all or part of 10 counties spanning from Tahoe to Yosemite – is solidly Republican."
McClintock's response to the crowd failed to register:
“I understand you do not like Donald Trump,” McClintock told the crowd at one point. “I sympathize with you. There have been elections where our side has lost. … Just a word of friendly advice: Remember that there were many people in America who disagreed and feared Barack Obama just as vigorously as you disagree with and fear Donald Trump.”
The progressives who forced the republican congressman to get police cover explained their action as follows:
“This is really all about resisting the Trump agenda,” said Wendy Wood, chairwoman of Indivisible Sierra Nevada, a local chapter of a political organization formed in response to the election. “Most of us have never participated in political activism of any sort. Something is happening here, and people here are not happy with (Trump) and McClintock. We’re here to vote them out.”
Roseville police and fire officials capped attendance inside the theater at roughly 200 people. Those left outside voiced frustration about being locked out of the theater, some saying they had driven for hours simply to see McClintock face to face.
“We just wanted to be able to ask questions of our representative and share our thoughts on key issues,” wrote Lauren Lake in an email. “I drove hours over a snowy pass to be there … we were told that the venue was at capacity and no one else would be allowed in.” Unfortunately, her angrier "democrat and progressive" peers made that difficult.
In a separate incident in Florida, Rep. Gus Bilirakis faced his own angry crowd during a town hall meeting in Palm Harbor. The Tampa Bay Times reported that more than 200 people appeared at the Palm Harbor community center on Saturday morning with nearly all the guests voicing in support of Obamacare. It was not immediately clear if, as in the case of the McClintock town hall, the activist crowd consisted largely of "democrats and progressives."
No matter the ideological constituency of the protesting group, however, it increasingly looks like the Republicans will have major problems with both the repeal and replace part of Obamcare, contrary to Trump's early promises, as increasingly more Congressional republicans demand to have a plan in place for when Obama's signature healthcare law is eliminated, a process which will likely prove to be a major hurdle to the speedy implementation of Trump's other various economic policies, as Goldman explained yesterday.