August 6th, 2009
01:55 PM ET
5 years ago

Liberal groups launch town hall counteroffensive

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Liberal groups are sending supporters detailed instructions on strategies to counter what they call organized disruptions of congressional town halls - events that have become new front lines in the fight over President Obama's health care proposal.

Conservative groups critical of the overhaul headed into the August recess with their own battle plans for the events, sending opponents of the Democratic approach to health care reform information like links to search engines and lists that relayed the locations of upcoming town halls; confrontational questions to ask members of Congress; and chants and slogans to use in and around the venues.

The increasingly tense face-offs have grabbed headlines, and national Democrats have spent the week highlighting reports of everything from rowdy crowds to physical assaults and death threats directed at lawmakers who are current or prospective backers of the president's plan.

Over the past few days, groups like Health Care for America Now, the AFL-CIO - which is describing the town halls as the "principal battleground" in the health care fight - and Organizing for America, the president's campaign arm at the Democratic National Committee, have sent supporters logistical tips for dealing with any hostile conservative presence at the town halls, and for organizing lobbying efforts to neutralize their impact.

OFA sent its e-mail list a message Thursday that pointed to the protests as a fresh hurdle that called for a concerted push to contact members of Congress in response. "The goal of these disruptions is for a few people to get a lot a media attention and hijack the entire public discourse," wrote executive director Mitch Stewart. The message identifies the lawmaker who represents the specific congressional district of the e-mail recipient, and provides contact information.

A new campaign by the group also asks supporters to make their presence felt at town hall meetings. "Our congressional representatives are back home this month, and they’re facing more and more pressure from special interests on health insurance reform. It’s critical that we get out there and show them where we stand," says an OFA e-mail.

HCAN – the massive umbrella organization that represents the lobbying effort on behalf of major progressive groups and unions like MoveOn, the NAACP, and the SEIU – has given its supporters instructions on their own set of defensive town hall tactics.

The group advises them to coordinate event-day strategy in advance with congressional aides; arrive far earlier than opponents and gather "in the front to create a wall around the Member"; and to assign individuals to shadow reporters and "be assertive in shaping the narrative." It provides suggested questions and possible chants to use in drowning out raucous opponents.

The instructions also offer "precautions to make sure that you can keep meetings you organize under control." Those guidelines include making sure attendees are "easily identifiable"; establishing a strictly-controlled question-asking protocol; and banning and collecting any signs and leaflets that they have not issued themselves.

"Plan for disturbances and assign marshals," say the guidelines. "Make sure that you assign marshals to take care of moving the crowd, keeping people organized and orderly, and acting as security should any need arise to ask noisy or disruptive protesters to leave. If you have cause to think that you will need more back-up, notify the police ahead of time."

Opponents of the Obama plan have taken note of the new efforts. Thursday afternoon, conservative blog RedState noted that a Democratic Florida congresswoman had scheduled a "last-minute town hall" in an effort to "avoid middle class workers opposed to Obamacare."

"She'll be surrounded by union goons from the SEIU to feed middle class voters to alligators if they dare criticize Obamacare," said the blog, which advised readers who lived in the area that "you should show up. Just remember, the union goons are going to do their best to pick fights with you so they can get video for TV a proof that you guys are a mob. Don't let them win, but get your questions asked."

Moderate Democrats and fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats in particular are being targeted with lobbying campaigns, millions of dollars in radio and television ads, and grassroots pressure from both parties and groups across the political spectrum over the August recess, as Congress continues to weigh the president's proposed overhaul of the nation's health care system.


Filed under: Health care
soundoff (108 Responses)
  1. I believe in ceiling cat with education......

    The Commissioner collecting data for Quality Improvement. If you were educated about the Health care Industry, you'd learn there are many committees for QI to constantly improve treatment for patients by tracking records. it's already been going on for 10 years.....hello ?????

    August 6, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  2. rob

    So thelefts answer to these evil hatefull nazi thugs who dare disagree with the health care plan that no one really knows about is to send in the "Organized" patrolls to "CONTROLL" the events?

    This paragraph is particularly interesting:

    "The instructions also offer "precautions to make sure that you can keep meetings you organize under control." Those guidelines include making sure attendees are "easily identifiable"; establishing a strictly-controlled question-asking protocol; and banning and collecting any signs and leaflets that they have not issued themselves."

    Here come the Brown shirts and the Union thugs to controll the crowds.

    Scary stuff. Nov. 2010 can't come fast enough.

    August 6, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  3. Johnny DC

    You want a Civil War, Liberals? Fine. I'm glad I'm on the side with the NRA and military spending.

    August 6, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  4. JB - NYC

    I sense a lot of smelly hippies and hairy women will be showing up.. Go libs!

    August 6, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  5. TCM shutdown......

    No person from the DNC would try to shut you down. Shut down means "shouting" as you interrupt a person who's answering your question after you've already spoken. democrats aren't doing this in health care talks....but your party of Bozo's representing the Health Insurance industry are...........

    August 6, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  6. Rob

    Reading the libs posting here I think it's pretty obvious that any smart, rational person will never be able to converse with them. They are so hopped up on Obama-aide they can't see the truth if it's right in front of their faces. They've become full of the lies Obama, Pelosi, the unions, MoveOn, MSNBC, you name it have spewed out. They believe that government is going to take care of everything and they don't have to pay anything for it.

    Anyone who is confronted by these lib mobs better realize this. They will not talk facts. They wil lyell, scream, falsely accuse, and lie. And then they will report back to their handlers that you are being un-American.

    Welcome to the Obamanation! Orwell would be proud.

    August 6, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  7. Kevin B

    A few questions for the republican/Insurance oppostion group of fear mongers.

    Where does the reform being discussed in DC say, "seniors will be killed"?

    Where does it state, that this will be "universal health care"?

    Where does it say , you can not keep your own plan?

    Where does does it say you can not keep your doctor?

    Nothing like a few facts to refute your shrill, manufactered, willfully uninformed outrage.

    August 6, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  8. Darrie

    President Obama was elected MAINLY on his promise of Health-Care reform. Americans are not going to let disgruntled racists and their hateful jealous selfish dirty maneuvers keep America from having the progress it needs and has seen the promise of on Health Care. The Repuglican-instigated astro-turf crowd may yell, boo and disrupt to their selfish little hearts desire but they won't stop genuine Americans who know what America really needs to progress and become united in spite of the dirty tactics of the Party of NOOOOOO!

    August 6, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  9. Refiblicans will lose the health care status quo in fall..........

    And I'll be ALL too happy to pass 'em a "kleenex" to wipe the tears away......... : )

    August 6, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  10. Dont blame me

    So the liberals are bringing in their NORMAL RENT-A-MOBS.

    Page 58 of the bill states that the government will be able to access YOUR bank and savings accounts in order to extract YOUR money in order to ensure that YOU are paying your fair share of the hospital bill.

    Come on people READ THE BILL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    What do we have to do to IMPEACH our representatives that don't represent the people???

    August 6, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  11. Tony

    "Liberal groups are sending supporters detailed instructions on strategies to counter what they call organized disruptions of congressional town halls"

    This is the Lefts problem. They are sending groups and paying them to counter the right. The People, Conservatives and Democrats are showing up as INDIVIDUALS to ask questions and make their opinions known.

    Should we be surprised? No, and now they want to colect your anme too..................

    August 6, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  12. David

    Since the New GOP is not interested in the FACTS or a DEBATE, it's clear that what they are 'afraid' of is not healthcare reform, socialized medicine, a birth certificate, or bigger government, but the fact that the vast majority of rational, thinking, educated Americans, reject the lies, deceptions, hate and fear mongering. which is all that the GOP offers.

    The more they purposefully disrupt congressional town hall meetings on healthcare reform that over 75% of Americans are asking for, the more Americans(Democrat, Independent, Respectful Republicans) and the rest of the world, move closer to Obama and his policies, and away from the anything GOP.

    August 6, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  13. Right Leaning Independent

    Well, knowing how Liberal are such loud mouths, I am sure the opposition does not stand a chance... I would suggest that the opposition just yell "BOO" and watch the Libs run away...

    August 6, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  14. dwayne

    bring it on Republican Party!! you will lose we need public health care the live you are saving maybe your own

    August 6, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  15. single mom

    Interesting what gets Americans to pay attention to what their government is doing. A 4 trillion dollar deficit. Higher taxes. The administration calling on people to turn each other in for speaking against the government. Civil discourse and public gatherings restricted.
    Oops. That last one hasn't happened yet.

    Please, whether you agree or disagree with the Obama admiinistration, PLEASE, keep your discussions civil!

    August 6, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  16. Dave, the Truthteller

    Gee, what a stretch for Dems. They have been doing stuff like this for years. Lib monkeys are just mad because they are getting a taste of their own medicine...

    August 6, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  17. Commissioner of data for QI (quality improvement)..........

    Quality Improvement committees have been in existence for 10 years now. these Committees follow patient care by tracking patient records for constant and continuous improvement. So don't try and scare others into believing patients records would somehow not be confidential. Patient records are extremely confidential . Even more so than Corporate records sold to health Insurance Industries. Yet as republicans......you can't mention it......can you ?????

    August 6, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  18. Scott, Tucson

    Obama ought to dress his goons in Brown Shirts so we Americans can recognize them for what they are.

    August 6, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  19. Trade Freedom for Security, Lose Both

    Even in Thomas Jefferson's day government health care was an issue. Here's what he said: "If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny. "

    August 6, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  20. rand

    I want to know if all these protesters that are disrupting meetings because the oppose government health care would deny themselves or give up their medicare/medicaid????

    This broken system is bankrupting us and forcing too many into no insurance situations. Who pays for their health care??? YOU DO.

    Most logical people realize this grave situation. Only those being paid and bussed by the insurance, pharmaceutical and medical companies are crying foul.

    August 6, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  21. grrace

    we are getting a public option.

    August 6, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  22. Chuck

    How are the Republicans that disrupt townhall meetings different than Hitler's brown shirts? Aren't these the same people the RNC bused into Florida to force election workers to stop counting votes? They have attacked Obama from the start and never stopped, like they did to Bill Clinton. Should we start treating Republicans as traitors?

    August 6, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  23. Sniffit

    "Censorship because they don't want to hear that they're wrong?"

    It's not censorship to expect people to behave themselves, wait their turn, and act in a respectful manner to everyone else there, including the representative holding the meeting. Clearly, that is not what is happening though based on the many clips shown all over the tv. The right to free speech does not include the right to shout, wave your fist in the air and disrupt public gatherings. Moreover, these idiots are shouting the exact same crap in MA as they are in MI and CA. It couldn't be more obvious that they're nothing more than GOPer mouthpieces regurgitating the errant flatulence that escaped Lilmbaugh's mouth and was promptly disseminated to the GOPer base to fuel their ideological vomit.

    August 6, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  24. Phil

    Obama and crew are starting to sound more and more like Chavez and his Venezuelan cronies. The dems had no issues being disruptive and protesting everything the past 8 years, but now that they are in power, if you do not agree with them, they take issue. Give me a break, the dems are the ones spreading the conspiracy theory that the republicans are purposefully disrupting these town halls. Don;t they realize that people just don't like the healthcare "reform" and are speaking up loudly because they aren't heard otherwise? Whatever happened to "liberal" ideas and thinking. They are supposed to be more tolerant of dissenting opinions, but instead are the ones who try to suppress opposing views. Love it. Also, why is it the dems are always the ones on these comment sections name calling and acting like children??? Don't believe me...go through and read the comments. 90% of the vile comments are by dems/liberals.

    August 6, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  25. libs r fools

    americans really need to get together on this one, dnc is going to push this, so we need to continue to fight this health bill, politicians are not going to listen to what the americans want, be cause they dont care,go to all town hall meetings as possible,and yell,yell, congress needs to be kicked out of office

    August 6, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
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