Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., gave health-care town hall attendees in Lake Elmo, Minn., not only something to think about in her comments condemning President Obama’s government health-care plan, but also something to smile over when she zinged a heckler with an impromptu remark that elicited uproarious laughter from the crowd.
Bachmann had been arguing, “I would far prefer to have American medical care than I would health care in the U.K. any day of the week,” a comment which brought cheers and applause from the approximately 400 who squeezed into a junior high school auditorium to hear her speak, with another roughly 400 watching via closed-circuit in the school’s cafeteria.
But when she held up a stack of papers she claimed were headline reports from U.K. newspapers carrying stories of poor health care under socialized medicine, an unidentified man attempted to interrupt.
Bachmann was in the middle of highlighting a story about 4,000 U.K. women forced by a lack of hospital beds to give birth in hospital hallways, when the heckler became too loud to ignore.
“That happens here!” the heckler shouted.
“Not here,” Bachmann attempted to argue.
When the heckler insisted she was wrong, Bachmann responded with an impromptu zinger:
“I’ve given birth here probably more times than you, sir,” she said.
The gathered crowd erupted in laughter.
Video of the exchange can be seen below:
Like many of the town halls held by lawmakers in recent weeks, Bachmann’s gathering was attended a feisty crowd prepared to cheer, boo or protest the increasingly controversial issue of the government’s involvement in health care.
Unlike many of the town halls, however, Bachmann didn’t meet with constituents in attempt to sell the president’s plan for health-care reform; instead, she voiced her opposition to it.
Bachmann explained the meeting on her website:
“As August winds down, Congress will soon be back in Washington trying to slap together an expensive health-care overhaul,” her website states. “And whether it entails a ‘public option’ or ‘co-op,’ a government take over of our health-care system is simply unacceptable.”
She continued that theme in Lake Elmo:
“Let’s not destroy what truly is the greatest health-care system the world has ever known,” Bachmann argued, a point that was greeted with outbursts from both sides, but unlike many of the town halls, the cheers drowned out the boos.
“What Washington is doing a lot right now is saying, ‘Trust me, just trust me,’” Bachmann summarized. “The American people are saying, ‘We don’t trust you.’”
As WND has reported, Americans have been flocking to lawmakers’ health-care town hall meetings, typically voicing loud displeasure with the ever-expanding size of the federal government and what many see as yet another intrusive expansion.
All across the country, legislators coming to their home districts in attempt to sell the health-care plan to constituents are being met with fierce opposition and huge crowds:
Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., was confronted by self-described Democrats who accused their representative of lying about health reform and protested, “Why would you try to stuff a health-care plan down our throats in a couple days when the president took six months to pick a dog for his kids?”
- Also in Maryland, Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., admitted to receiving nearly 1,600 RSVP’s for a town hall meeting at a concert hall that only seated only 500. When an estimated 1,500 showed up for the meeting, protesters lined the streets outside with signs and shouts.
- In Mehlville, Mo., protesters lined up around the block of the Bernard Middle School gym where Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-Mo., had planned a public forum. When hundreds were left standing on the street, they remained outside into the evening. Eventually, a union representative reportedly assaulted one of the protesters, Kenneth Gladney, which lead to six arrests, including a St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter. Gladney later appeared in an interview on the Fox News Channel explaining the attack, which drew national attention.
- A video posted on YouTube, one of many from around the country, reportedly shows several hundreds standing outside in a stunningly long line, waiting to get into a packed town hall meeting on health care with Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga.
- Rep. Tim Bishop, D-N.Y., has called off further events after a June 22 event he held in Setauket, N.Y., in which protesters dominated the meeting by shouting criticisms at the congressman for his positions on energy policy, health care and the bailout of the auto industry.
- Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., got an earful, too – especially on the health-care issue.
- Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., heard from a very well-informed veteran – to the enthusiastic applause of those gathered.
- Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., also heard from the crowd when he made a gaffe by saying the work needs to be done “fast.”
- The Pittsburgh Tribune review captured video of a town hall with Specter in Kittanning, Pa., reporting that 1,500 showed up to voice their concerns over health care. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” Specter told reporters afterward.
- U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., tried to explain at a town hall that people “don’t know” how much they’re already paying to cover the uninsured, but his reasoning was drowned out by protesters.
- WND reported the story of Mike Sola, a Michigan father who confronted Dingell in a separate meeting over what he feared Obamacare would do to his handicapped adult son. Sola later reported he was threatened at his home, at night, by supporters of the government health-care plan.
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., visited a Denver, Colo., clinic for the homeless to raise support for Obama’s health-care plan, only to be met by streets lined with protesters opposed to the measure.
- Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-TX, went out to meet constituents, only to be met with protesters shouting in opposition to the health-care bill, “Just say no!”
- At a health-care town hall event in Syracuse, N.Y., in July, police were called in to restore order, and at least one heckler was taken away by local police.
- Close to 100 sign-carrying protesters greeted Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Fla., at a late June community college small-business development forum in Panama City, Fla.
- Danville, Va., anti-tax tea party activists claimed they were “refused an opportunity” to ask Rep. Thomas Perriello, D-Va., a question at a town hall event and instructed by a plainclothes police officer to leave the property after they attempted to hold up protest signs.
- Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., was chased by a crowd saying the Pledge of Allegiance.
- In the wake of vocal town hall protests covered by the press, Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., attempted to ban news cameras from his public forum on health care reform, but eventually relented and allowed the coverage.
- A handful of New York’s congressmen, including Democrats Brian Higgins and Louise Slaughter and Republican Chris Lee, have shunned the town hall meetings altogether, opting instead for telephone meetings or no meetings at all.
- Rep. Mark Schauer, D-Mich., also sought to dodge boisterous health-care reform critics by holding a teleconference forum, rather than a public town hall meeting. The decision didn’t stop protesters on both sides of the debate rallying outside the lawmaker’s office.
- The constituents of Rep. John Tanner, D-Tenn., unable to access their representative through a town hall meeting, created a video charging that Tanner has met with Michael Moore and Fidel Castro, “But he won’t meet his constituents in the 8th District to talk about health care.”
- Meanwhile, as WND reported, pre-written questions from participants with track records of campaigning and organizing for Obama have led some to believe the president has been stacking his own town halls with “plants.” The practice, some allege, may also be in use at other, purportedly open public forums.
The biggest source of protests are the health-care bill, the $787 billion economic stimulus package and the cap-and-trade legislation. They’re also angry about Barack Obama’s refusal to release his birth certificate to prove he is a “natural born citizen” and constitutionally eligible to serve in the White House.
According to an Associated Press report, Obama’s top political adviser, David Axelrod, showed Senators in D.C. video of some of the boisterous town-hall meetings and discussed how to respond to disruptions.
“It’s a challenge, no question about it, and you’ve got to get out there and make the case,” Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., said afterward. “This is not the time for the faint-hearted.”