August 11th, 2009
10:10 AM ET
5 years ago

Obama goes to health-care battlefront with N.H. town hall


(CNN) - President Barack Obama holds a town hall meeting in New Hampshire Tuesday, placing himself at the battlefront of the push to overhaul the nation's ailing health-care system.

Related video: Obama to give facts, aide says

Similar meetings by congressional members in recent weeks have generated heated and sometimes disruptive debate, demonstrating the high emotions and
political stakes involved in an issue that will affect every American.

Democrats have accused opponents of health-care changes of organizing protests intended to drown out the debate, while Republicans respond the public anger is a genuine response to what they call excessive and misguided legislation.

Videos of some protests circulating on the Internet show raucous crowds heckling their representatives in Congress and carrying posters with devil horns drawn on lawmakers' heads, swastikas or Obama with Adolf Hitler's mustache.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, who had a town hall meeting disrupted by angry protesters earlier this month, said he had never experienced such emotion in his 15 years of holding such forums.

Democratic Rep. Brad Miller of North Carolina even had a death threat phoned into his office. A caller said that if Miller supported Obama's plan, it could cost him his life, Miller told CNN.

Obama, just back from a North American summit with the leaders of Mexico and Canada, seeks to focus the discussion on specifics of Democratic proposals that have cleared committees in both the House and Senate.

He and other Democratic leaders complain that Republican opponents and right-wing political commentators are spreading misinformation about the proposed legislation.

In his weekend radio address, Obama sought to dispel what he called "the outlandish rumors that reform will promote euthanasia, cut Medicaid or bring about a government takeover of health care. That's simply not true."

Republicans respond that the outrage is real, not manufactured.

"These are average Americans that are concerned about this long litany of borrowing and spending and bailouts and government takeover of one industry after another. And this government takeover of health care is just the last straw for many Americans," Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana, told "Fox News" Monday.

The White House has launched what it calls a Health Insurance Reform Reality Check Web site designed to combat what the administration considers misinformation about the issue. The Web page features Obama aides discussing various aspects of health care reform.

Obama calls a health-care overhaul essential for ensuring long-term economic stability. However, congressional action on a health-care overhaul has slowed due to strong Republican opposition. Neither chamber met Obama's desired goal of passing a bill before their August recess.

In particular, the Republicans and some Democrats reject a government-funded public health insurance option, which they believe will lead to a government takeover of the health-care system. Most Democrats want a public option to ensure coverage is available to virtually all Americans and provide competition to private insurers.


Filed under: Health care • New Hampshire • President Obama
soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. Lilarose in Bandon, Oregon

    The town halls across America seem to be dumping grounds for conspiracy theorist types who don't ask a single question, just blab on and on about their personal politics.

    And CNN is picking it up–witness Sen. Spector's 'town hall."

    Ask the conspiracy folks if any of them have ever been "gotten" by one of their theories.....

    What will most likely get them is a heart attack.

    August 11, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  2. Richard King

    I'd like to know WHO and HOW people are invited to these Town Hall Meetings???

    Since it was announced that President Obama was going to be in NH today I've e-mailed the White House with all my personal information requesting that I be selected to attentd this NH Town Hall Meeting and I received no response!!!

    I've been attempting to meet with the President since March 2009, and I receive "standard" reply letters stating how the President is very busy and can't meet with everyone.

    I am in NH for the summer and the President is here, so I requested an invitation to thie Town Hall Meeting but never received a response.

    This only leads me to believe that Politicians (both Democrat and Republican) only choose those that THEY want in attendance.

    HOW DOES THE AVERAGE LOWER CLASS AMERICAN MAKE HIMSELF HEARD IF HE/SHE CAN'T MEET WITH ELECTED OFFICIALS????? This really upsets me.

    August 11, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  3. obama, a failed experiment

    I guess when you can't get people to accept something you cannot explain, then you have to discredit them with lies. Why when people reject one of obama's idea's he can't believe it is just a bad idea. He thinks since he wants it, it must be good and therefore if people reject it there are other reasons such as people paid to disrupt town meetings. LOL! how arrogant!!!!

    Typical chicago politics from someone who cannot sell something on it's merit.

    August 11, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  4. steviewondering

    Are you really calling this the battlefront??? Remember, this is an Axelrod production, this will be staged questions, powder puff rebuttals. Obama puts on a GREAT show!

    August 11, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  5. Joe Smoe

    One thing that needs to be considered in this entire mess is the
    drug companies and the insurance companies they are the death
    squads.
    The insurance companies decide if they are going to pay for your health care and the drug companies take millions of dollars and years and years to develop their drugs that are killing people and you don't call these death squads.
    The entire insurance conglomerate and the big drug companies need to be investigated, overhauled and shut down, they need to start helping people find out why we are in such poor health instead treating us when we get in poor health.
    We are born to die and no one will stop that.

    August 11, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  6. Right Leaning Independent

    Well, I for one think that these superior humans that we call our representatives should be heckled! They have wasted our money on bailouts for banks, the auto industry, Acorn and political backers, and a useless stimulus package. Now they are telling us how they are going to spend more of our money that we as a country can not afford on healthcare. If these folks spent their own money in the same manner they spend ours, they would have been bankrupt a long time ago!! Heckle these idiots right back to Washington and than out of office during the next elections!!!!

    August 11, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  7. Kansan

    The simple fact that many at these meetings are ignoring, is the right "EVERYONE" has to free speech. These idiots purposely disrupting the meetings are taking away everyone elses right to speak and ask questions. If you are there to voice your concerns and ask legitimate questions, then fine, do so, that's your right. If you are there to just scream and shout and cause chaos then you are there as a town hall terrorist...of course in a Sarah Palin world, the only "Real Americans" that have rights are Republicans.

    August 11, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  8. Steve

    We have T.A.R.P, we have C.A.R.S and now through the magic of government we might have...wait for it.....wait for it.....

    G.R.I.P = Government Run Insurance Program

    Steve, Dallas, Texas

    August 11, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  9. Pat F

    As much as the Obama thought police, and the "error correction web-site" try, they can't seem to suppress dissent on this. Maybe some more thugs at meetings to intimidate senior citizens, and your new "enemies list" will help. Or maybe a few hand-picked carefully screened meetings and faus "interviews" with your staff and other sycophants might do the trick.

    Americans might be slurping-drinking, Big Mac eating, American Idol watching people. But we're not completely stupid – or at least not fooled for long. Too bad, Barry – the kool aid is wearing off quickly.

    August 11, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  10. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    The president needs to start showing what kind of bill he would do if he were still in Congress. I know that I would support a government plan that covers those that were reject by most insurance coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

    There also needs to be a way to get more nurses and doctors (among other health professionals) into the health profession. With more doctors and nurses able to afford to do that job (paying for school and insurance is far too high), there will be more places for people to go and possiblily lower rates and more time with patients.

    August 11, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  11. Kate in SW Fla

    I think the President shold point out that he knows a thing or two about being called "un-American," and emphasizes that kind of talk should end. But so should the other ridiculous hate speech coming from the right. If the American people are angry about death panels, extermination camps for special needs kids and euthanizing grannys, who can blame them? Problem is, NONE of that is true. Let's have rational discussions about this very important issue. The President has asked for a "Bi-Partisan" bill, still hoping for that. It is hard though, when he just gets this kind of wild rhetoric in return. The Republicans are afraid that if Obama succeeds, they will be in the wilderness for years. In reality, they COULD just work with him and then we all win.

    August 11, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  12. Alicia

    I am glad people are asking questions. My question is why are they not running after the Republican town hall meeting?

    What disturbs me is there will be good questions by attendees that I would want to know.......then here comes the 'I want my country back' which means they hate having a Black President. It takes away from the protestors credibility.

    August 11, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  13. RR

    Obama is NOT there to listen. He's there to SELL. he's already made up his mind for us.

    August 11, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  14. Obama=Trickle up Poverty

    Let's hear him campaign speech these people to death!! I want him to tell them that he and the rest of congress are dropping their private coverage and will be the first ones on the new program.

    August 11, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  15. Kevin in Ohio

    King Obama will no doubt carefully orchestrate this town hall so that only his Union Thugs and ACORN comrades are there. He is doing everything he can to inhibit legitimate dissent.

    August 11, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  16. rob c

    If we can spend money on wars we shouldn't be in what's wrong with taking care of US citizens. The old folks protesting and the republicans were gung ho for medicare part d. But when it comes to taking care of the rest of us who are young and not old, white , or not about to get medicare or ss those same groups say no. Look at the protestors, they all seem to be old and white people who came of age in the 60s and 70s when whites were still treated like they were the only ones in this country.

    August 11, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  17. Randolph Carter

    Because screaming and whining works when you don't have logic or facts to back up your arguments. Have a nice day!

    August 11, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  18. Wake-me-when-it's-over

    I hope President Obama will 'finally' understand, that Americans do not believe what he says anymore. They know that he tried to ram this through, and hope that the general population did not get any detail information about it. Conservatives are not surprised by him, because he is a liberal socialist. What amazes me personally, is how the other grown men and women, have been marching to the tune Obama plays.
    Now they appear to be marching in quicksand. Let us give them a hand up, and show them a really good Bi-Partisan solution. We know
    that there is much to be done. We love America and freedom must be
    protected!!

    August 11, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  19. MLH

    What I don't get about the genuine anger – and I know at least some of it, if not all is genuine, is that a town hall meeting is not a protest rally, nor is it a shouting forum. they can wrap themselves in an American flag all they want, but shouting down the speaker or others whose turn it is to speak is not appropriate behavior, nor does it further their cause. Furthermore, so many of the people that show up on television have so clearly not read the content of 3200 that it seems odd that they can protest it so vituperatively.

    August 11, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  20. Sam Sixpack

    Howard Dean was the shill who first brought up euthanasia, the parade thereafter pretending it was Sarah Palin are lying to you.

    You can read all about Obama's real death panel in a letter from Peter R. Orszag to Nancy Pelosi dated July 17, 2009 and posted on the Whitehouse's own website, no less.

    August 11, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  21. Common Sense

    It is ironic that these allegedly "grass-roots" protesters would draw comparisons to Hitler and Nazi Germany in their opposition to health care reform, when it it is they who are using the tactics of the brownshirts that brought Hitler to power. Of course they would not know that, because they are mostly uneducated and easily led by the demagogues of the far right and the Fox entertainment channel. Why does this shouting down of debate reek of Rove and the other Texas dirty tricks crowd. It is 2009's version of swift boating. Hey CNN how about doing a little investigative reporting and get to the bottom of this?

    August 11, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  22. Craig of LA

    The modern republican party now fully reveals in the light of day what they have become – a party of angry, overweight, middle-aged white people comfortable with their selfishness, bigotry and rascism. We see the heckling, the lack of civility, the organized attempt to disrupt and deny fellow citizens their right to talk to their representatives, the despicable signage and labeling of our President and Democrats as Nazis, the deliberate and malicious false assertion of "death panels" and forced euthanasia to strike fear in the hearts of our senior citizens. Truth, decency and righteousness will triumph over this unholy cabal. Lincoln, T. Roosevelt and Reagan are turning over in their graves.

    August 11, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  23. Hugo

    It has recently been reported FOX 30 that Rev. Wright and Bill Ayers are now revealed to be behind assisting the GOP white racist devils in their "Community Organization" effort to defeat Obama's Nationalized healthcare Bill. When questioned by "Move On.Org" the two men simply stated what's good for the goose is good for the gander, right ON and Power to the People!

    August 11, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  24. awaitingliberalizationbyCNN

    A very tightly controlled crowd of supporters will ask him questions that are hand fed to them. The new face of the American republic. But then I am part of the unpatriotic mob, whose movements and thoughts are being fed in to the enemies list being compiled by this thug administration. Nancy Pelosi is going to take care of my type.

    August 11, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  25. Bob in Pa

    Battlefront ? Couldn't you choose your words more wisely ?

    August 11, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
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